Your donations can give kids a kick start in life

By Terry Inigo-Jones,
HSAA Communications

Nonentities. Homeless. Stateless.

That’s the reality for a group of people living in the Dominican Republic. They are the descendants of Haitians lured to the country for work, born in the Dominican, but not recognized as citizens, living in the country but with no rights.

“These are second generation of those people. They have no jobs, they have no option for education, they have no health care,” says Glenda Brown, an HSAA member and laboratory assistant at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre. She visited the Dominican Republic last year to take kits of washable and reusable sanitary supplies to girls as part of the Days for Girls charity – see http://www.daysforgirls.org for more information.

“During my trip down there last fall, we met one fellow, he was mid-30s, father of four. He’d got pneumonia, he got really, really sick, so they took him to a Dominican hospital, which was the only one they could get to. He didn’t heave health care, he had no insurance and he was Haitian, so they kicked him out and he died. They refused to treat him. They can do that,” says Brown.

“They can’t get back to Haiti because they don’t have Haitian papers. They don’t have Dominican citizenship, so they can’t access any services or health care or sometimes even education.”

Life is hard for these descendants of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. To the authorities, they are nonentities, grains of dust.

“I thought discrimination here (in Canada) was bad, but it’s nothing compared to down there,” says Brown.

With little or no access to education, health care or any public facilities, the options for the children are slim, but they’re working to make things better for themselves.

Some of the volunteer guides she met on her last trip have formed soccer and basketball teams for the children. They’ve created a soccer field and are organizing games between the teams.

“The (children) pay no fees for this, but (in order to play) they have to clean up the fields or they do some community-service project. So, they’re not just out there playing, they’re actually helping out their community as well. That’s a good thing to do.”

However, the kids need soccer shoes and basketball shoes. Soccer balls, basketballs and shirts would also be useful. The more gear they have, the more teams they can form and the more children can be helped. They would also welcome the donation of some hockey bags to transport donations to the Dominican Republic.

The question is: Do you have lightly used or new shoes, shirts, balls or hockey bags you can spare? If so, you can drop them off at the HSAA offices in Edmonton or Calgary or contact Brown at dgttrans@telusplanet.net and she’ll arrange to get them. She’ll take them with her when she returns to the Dominican Republic at the end of October.

You can help these youngsters build sports teams while also building their community – and then everybody wins.

To see more of what’s happening, watch these videos made by volunteers in the village of Ascension:

Future for the Village 1

Future for the Village 2