In the Dominican Republic, there is a network of sugarcane communities (bateyes) in the provinces of Bahoruco, Independencia, and Barahona. These communities were created by the sugarcane industry to be settled by Haitians, who were brought to the Dominican Republic many years ago to work in the sugarcane fields. The bateyes now have generations of Haitian-Dominican families and a unique culture all their own. Unfortunately, many folks who live in the bateyes are at risk of becoming stateless, due to the passage of legislation in the Dominican Republic that limits the citizenship rights of those people with Haitian ancestry. If these batey residents cannot get documented as Dominican citizens, their opportunities for employment, education, and health care will be extremely limited.
Declaro Mis Derechos (I Declare My Rights) is an initiative that empowers community leaders through human rights and child rights education. This project will train community leaders as promoters, who will then educate community members about their rights and the steps they can take in order to achieve proper documentation. With documentation, people living in the bateyes will have improved access to education, health care, voting rights and many more opportunities to carve out a better life for themselves and for their families.
The first half of the Declaro Mis Derechos course has been completed by 18 participants. This year, four new communities attended the conference, allowing the Declaro Mis Derechos Network to grow. The first part of the conference focused on professional development and participants learned how to give presentations about human rights and the importance of documentation. They also learned about effective communication and how they should present themselves in front of government organizations when lobbying for the rights of their fellow community members. During the week break between the first and second part of the conference, each participant will give a presentation on human rights to their communities.
"In this country, it's very important to have your documents because it is the main way to have the opportunity for education, university, and also the opportunity for health care, or to play sports in the U.S. Without your documents, it is very difficult." - Yelin, Project Participant
"The participants have been amazing, and I am very excited that we have been able to involve four new communities that have not been involved in Declaro Mis Derechos before. The program is growing, and we are excited to grow with it." - Estefani, Project Leader