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The Dominican Experience- Landing in Santiago

January 15, 2010

I got a call on Wednesday evening after attending the Earthquake Relief Emergency Meeting in NYC.  It left me frightened for what I might see, yet my heart was calm and my spirit called for home.  I left Haiti in tears last September not wanting to head back to the unfamiliar life of NY, away from where my soul finally felt a feeling of peace and home.  That call on Wednesday pulled me back.  Director of Strange Things, Alexandria Hammond and I have been extremely concerned about the conditions in Haiti since the earthquake.  We have also been concerned with the aftermath, and how the children of Haiti may suffer.  Photographer Will Sterns asked me to travel with him to Haiti the Thursday morning, and with the support of family, friends, Creative Connections, and a close contact at UNICEF I decided to go.

Why Did I Go? To be of service to countless families abroad who are not getting any news about their families and people.  To be a communication resource for most of the diaspora because we are not hearing about our areas and our people.  To do what I can for the people in Haiti while we all wait, simply because Nou Bouke…

When Did I Go? On January 14th, at 11:16 am- Jetblue flight 825 took off for Santiago.  With help from Global Potential’s Executive Director, Frank Cohn, I was able to maneuver through Santiago, lodge at a hotel, and write to you now as I brace myself for tomorrow mornings journey at the Jimani border.

Who Else Came? Will and I met two New Yorkers, Liam and Craig.  A man with a camera, and another with a medical degree and a box of supplies.  They felt compelled to come to Haiti although never stepping foot in the country, not knowing a soul on the ground, or the language or the people.  Yet they are here.  What more could I ask for?  I now have a doctor with supplies embarking on this journey to first-stop: Carrefour Feuilles, where from what I have heard thus far, no one has reached.

What Did We Do? Share a cab from Santiago airport to an area close by the border crossing called Jimani.  Jimani is not the best place to stay with one hotel and Tomayo’s hotels are booked with others waiting to cross the border, and so we’re in Vincente Nobles- the closest possible location.

Where Are We Going? The guys have agreed to come with me to Carrefour Feuilles.  Its been hit pretty hard and I have family living on Route Des Dalles who are unaccounted for.  I walked from my uncles house on to the Olofsson all summer and so being welcomed by Richard Morse, providing one doctor, and having a base there is the plan.  RAM, the racine band led by Richard Morse and his wife have contributed to Strange Things with their music and essence.  Mr Morse has kept up with his inspiring persona by sharing information with us via twitter.  If you haven’t already, please follow him on twitter to get updates!  I signed up for the first time because it has been the only news for the people that I’ve heard thus far.

I have a contact on the Dominican side ready to assist people to come to the border.  Plan on staying overnight in DR close to the border and heading out the next morning.  Safety first!  You must plan out something like this and organize, otherwise you may not cross over at all.  Beneco, my contact has been a blessing.  Please leave comments of organized groups with contact information (email please) and as I obtain access again I will try and upate you on the crossing situation and journey, so that more of us can get here and help.  We need hands here…kreyol speaking, medically trained, helping hands, water, water, water, food, supplies, etc…

In Solidarity!

I can be followed on twitter here:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ellie permalink
    January 15, 2010 4:21 pm

    I admire your resolve, be safe and I hope your family is ok.

  2. Mary Holder permalink
    January 15, 2010 7:20 pm

    Bagay, I learnt of your journey through my friend Roseann Warren on Facebook. Tears are in my eyes. Please accept my blessings and love to you and those who travel with you! I cannot find the words to express how amazing what you are doing is. So many would love to be able to support in the same way! Sending you strength and love! Mary Holder. May God protect you and those you look to support in their time of need!

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