6 of 12 videos

Forgotten Faces

Batey Dos- Forgotten Faces

This audiovisual presentation is an excerpt from a photo reportage I did in one of the poorest Haitian immigrant settlements in the Dominican Republic: Batey numero dos (Batey two).

While not geographically too far from the riches and the modern lifestyle of a Dominican city, people here live on an average of ten dollars a day, six months of the year, the other six months, on zero income. This is because the private sugar cane company employing them requires their services only during harvest season, leaving these workers to fend for themselves the remaining six months of the year.

There is a local clinic, just two rooms and a cabinet full of aspirin, painkillers and condoms serving over 8000 Haitian workers, also from nearby settlements. Since the sugar cane company employs airborne weed killers liberally spraying from an airplane all over the area, there has been a great increase in eye problems and blindness amongst the workers. Obviously, since the Haiti earthquake, the number of Haitian nationals illegally crossing the nearby border in search of work and better life conditions has greatly increased. Most of these people own nothing if not the ragged clothes they are wearing.

They live in substandard housing, cement and zinc roof shacks built in the 1950’s, often up to 15 people in a room, sleeping amongst dirt, vermin and desperation. They told me their biggest problem is food. They are hungry. The little money they earn harvesting sugar cane is barely keeping them alive six month of the year. The remaining six months they are on their own.