A Batey is a community home to sugarcane workers in the Dominican Republic, mostly migrant Haitians. I arrived into Batey Monte Coca knowing little of what I would encounter, nevertheless I can say that from the moment I stepped foot into the Batey I felt loved and welcomed.
The Bateyes are the poorest regions in the island, where sugarcane workers are practically exploited. They work long hours under the sun and receive an extremely low pay. The conditions in which they live and work in are inhumane. However, they always have a smile on their faces, they sing and dance through life and are the people with the biggest hearts you’ll ever know.
In the Batey, you can see children running barefoot through the sugarcane fields, hitting a soda cap with a stick while imagining they are playing baseball in the MLB, singing bachata and of course, dancing! Always with the biggest smile on their faces.
Strong, faithful, loving, hard-working, honest and thankful are just some of the words that describe the people I met in the place I can now call a second home.
Looking at something through love can fully change your perspective. I decided to look at every single person I met with love and from love and as a result I saw directly into their hearts. I got to know the struggles, blessings and deepest dreams of the most discriminated people in the island, I looked into their eyes and saw a million things lying in their soul.
I write because I believe that we are all equal, that we all deserve the same respect, because I want the world to realize that regardless one's religion, ethnicity, gender, economic situation, country, etc. We are all one, we all have the same rights. I write because I’m tired of looking around and finding that so many people are suffering because their governments put their economic interest rather than the dignity of their citizens first.
Today I write on regards of my second family in the Bateyes, who deserve to exercise their basic human rights, who deserve a dignified home, a nationality, an education, food, water, electricity, among many other things they lack, but most importantly I write because I want everyone to see what I saw, I saw who they really are, I want everyone to stop looking at them as less and start looking at them with love, because when they do it, they’ll see the amazing human beings they are.