As I’msitting in my little home office, it can be a challenge to understand that the world is much bigger than where I live in Kennesaw, Georgia. Or even the country that I’m proud to call home America, the same country that my father Moses Mwaura migrated to. Yet God calls for us to not only recognize that we’re part of a world representing over seven billion people, but at the same time to love the world. In fact, I would even venture to say that Isaiah 37:16 makes it clear that God made and sees the entire world, which is unlike me. God doesn’t see just one part of the world which is why as Christ Followers we should be praying for our world daily.
Recently on a rare Thursday Evening when many people were done working for the day, I had the privilege of spending a few minutes with United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield. During my amazing time with her I learned so much about our world and the reasons that we should see ourselves not only as citizens of America but worldwide citizens. We have been placed here by a God who made and oversees the world. He desires for us to do our part, which in part is praying for the world around us.
During my time with Ambassador Greenfield, she stressed that although she loves the world that the one part of the world that she is concerned about is Haiti. As a man who has lived in Florida, I understand her sentiments. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and the rate of famine that is plaguing that part of the world is alarming. Although the Haitian people are a resourceful and steadfast people they have been through a lot. “Every two to three years, a national disaster seems to hit Haiti which makes it hard for them to bounce back,” according to Ambassador Greenfield. I can still remember that two years ago their President was assassinated while he slept, and it sent the country into turmoil. As citizens of the world, if we’re to make a difference we should listen to the prompting of the spirit. We should find our part of the world that God may want us to get involved with, pray for it, and even go if we can. If we are to do our part in loving the world we must get out of our personal boxes and get involved.
“We prevented famine in Africa by providing $500 million dollars to confront famine.” In hearing Ambassador Greenfield say this, it brought tears to my eyes. I think at times in our world we can get consumed in thinking that our tax dollars aren’t at work. But they are in cases like these. Luke 4:23 is clear that to much is given much is required. Although we have our problems in America, we have been given a lot. Which is why we should be missional as believers. The Great Commission is clear that we have been called to go into all the world which has never been easier than it is today with modern technology. In the world that we live in today, with just a click of a button, we can have conversations with people that our ancestors would have never dreamed of having. Just by having a conversation with someone in another part of the world we could be making the connection of a lifetime and maybe even bringing peace. I believe that great connections always bring peace. “The United Nations has prevented World Wars and is the only institution that we have worldwide.” This may explain why Ambassador Greenfield loves her job and seemed to be upbeat even after most of us have stopped working for the day. “I’m on a mission”, which for ambassador Greenfield began growing up in a small southern town in Louisiana. During our conversation she was on her way to the airport heading home from a trip to New Orleans. “I loved being back in my home state and the hospitality that they show me…I hope I’m making them proud.”
As citizens of the world my prayer is that when people see us as American Citizens and followers of Jesus, that we are making them proud. We have been given a mandate by God to not only go into all the world, but also tackle issues that the world may be ignoring like climate change. The Ambassador is clear that climate change issues are not only affecting the us globally but also right here in America. To truly see the needs that are around us, we must people that love and recognize the needs around us. The United Nations is in New York City and is known as “The People’s House.” Ambassador Greenfield says, “It’s the peoples house, so anybody can come”. I will be taking her up on that offer because I believe that we are not only called to love our world, but we are also called to participate and engage with the world as world citizens. God doesn’t just love America, but He loves the entire world and there is so much work to be done. It is going to take all of us to pull off the task that He has called for us to do: bringing heaven to earth so that all may experience the kingdom of God.
Volunteer groups from several U.S. states were stranded in Haiti this past Sunday after violent protests over fuel prices canceled flights and made roads unsafe.
Church groups in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are among those that haven’t been able to leave, according to newspaper and television reports.
Some flights were resuming Sunday afternoon, according to airline officials and the flight tracking website FlightAware. American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said in an email that two flights bound for Miami and one for New York had taken off Sunday afternoon.
But even getting to an airport could be risky, U.S. officials warned. The U.S. State Department issued an alert Sunday urging its citizens on the island to shelter in place and not to go to an airport unless travelers had confirmed their departing flight was taking off.
Dr. Salil Bhende, a North Carolina dentist, said in a phone interview that a group of about 16 dental clinic volunteers was supposed to fly out Sunday from Port Au Prince but couldn’t make it to the airport because the roads were unsafe. After encountering rubble and garbage in the road, the group turned back to a church about 45 minutes outside the capital city where it was staying. Airline officials told them they might not be able to get a flight home until Tuesday, Bhende said.
“There were a lot of blockages,” he told The Associated Press. “It was very difficult to get to the airport, so we just turned around, basically, to be safe.”
Another member of the group, Pastor Fred Stapleton of Cornerstone Covenant Church in western North Carolina, said the volunteers have plenty of food and feel safe in the church.
“Nobody here is afraid for their life, or anything like that,” he said. “The people have taken care of us. We’ve been kept in a safe place.”
Chapin United Methodist Church in South Carolina posted online Sunday that its mission team is safe but stranded. Marcy Kenny, assimilation minister for the church, told The State newspaper that the group is hoping the unrest will abate enough for them to make it to the airport.
“They’re just waiting for things to die down a little bit,” Kenny said.
About 30 volunteers from a Bradenton, Florida, church were unable to make it to the airport Saturday because of protesters blocking the streets, according to the Bradenton Herald.
The group from Woodland Community Church includes about 18 teens, plus ministers and a handful of parents, said Jill Kramer, whose 15-year-old daughter is on the trip. They tried to leave for the airport early Saturday morning but turned back after they encountered protesters.
Kramer, who spoke to her daughter by phone, said the group has food, water and safe shelter at the nonprofit group where they had been working.
“The mission team, the directors they all decided it just wasn’t worth it to go farther,” Kramer told the newspaper.
— Yonat Shimron
In less than 24 hours the Dominican Republic will begin what is euphemistically being called a “social cleaning.” In this process of state housekeeping, the government will deport over 100,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent in effort to tidy of their immigration rolls. The criteria for this is unjust and appalling, ranging from targeting those with Haitian-sounding names and dark-skin to picking out women who look like prostitutes and considering those to be among the number.
According to an aid worker whose account was published in The Nation, the following is occurring:
“…in the barrios, police trucks have come through to conduct limpiezas (“cleanings,” with the adjective implied: “social cleanings”): “The detained tend to range from intoxicated persons to suspected prostitutes, but are disproportionately Haitian or dark-skinned Dominicans with Haitian facial features. These could just be guys drinking and playing dominos or women standing on street corners. More often, though, they tend to be young men with Haitian features and darker skin. The police usually—usually—detain them for a night and then let them go with a warning.” But, he says, this stepped-up activity is preparation for June 16:
Given the common practice of nightly police sweeps, the government solicitation of passenger buses, the official declaration of intent to pass Law 169-14 without delay on June 16, and the general history of anti-Haitian abuses on the part of law enforcement and government authorities, it is reasonable to assume that the infrastructure is now in place for mass detention and deportation of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic. The general attitude among this vulnerable subpopulation is a mix of fear and resignation.”
The majority of those in danger of being deported are migrant workers who own businesses in DR but there are also families, women, and children who are at risk of being deported to Haiti. Some media sources have referred to the threatened population as “Haitians” but this is a misnomer because the people actually have no connection to Haiti—some having never visited the country—and thus they are being deported to become strangers in a strange land where there aren’t even enough resources for an influx of citizens.
Many are currently scrambling to gain legal residency before today’s 7pm deadline, but they are doing so in the midst of volumes of paperwork and understaffed offices. Even if they are able to get through the paperwork and the lines there are criteria they must meet such as proving that they arrived before October 2011. This becomes particularly challenging for those born in rural towns under the care of midwives which, in many cases, means they weren’t issued birth certificates. Immediately this puts many at a disadvantage and increases the risk that they will be deported from the only home they’ve known. One has to wonder if these criteria weren’t purposely established to ensure that many wouldn’t be able to secure their residency before the deadline.
Unfortunately, the current situation in the Dominican Republic is nothing new. It is only making good on an approximately 78-year tension that has existed in the Dominican Republic. It started with the 1937 Parsley Massacre which was carried out by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo who targeted Dominicans who were dark enough to be Haitian or who were unable to pronounce key words in Spanish. So what we are seeing today is a continuation of an old battle fueled by anti-Haitian sentiments. Discrimination is at the root of this and the “social cleansing,” which is actually more akin to ethnic cleansing, is the government trying to create some semblance of ethnic purity on the island.
Furthermore, this is not just a battle on the island but America has a role in this. In an interview in the Americas Quarterly, Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat said,
One thing that is not mentioned as often is that early in the 20th century (1915 to 1934 for Haiti, and 1916 to 1924 for the D.R.), the entire island was occupied by the United States. Then again, in the D.R. in the 1960s, Trujillo — who not only organized a massacre, but wiped out several generations of Dominican families — was trained during the occupation by U.S. Marines and put in power when they pulled out. Same with the Haitian army that terrorized Haitians for generations. It is not a matter of blame but a matter of historical record.
Thus the discrimination currently taking place is a strongly-rooted practice in not recognizing Dominicans of Haitian descent as full Dominicans.
According to sources, the government has procured 12 buses and opened processing centers at the border to expedite the process of deporting the Dominicans of Haitian descent.
So what can we do?
1. The Dominican Republic is a hot tourist destination for many black and brown people. Thus the first thing that any of us can do is ensure that our fellow brothers and sisters with plans to vacation in the region this summer cancel their trips immediately and boycott. We must choose our people’s freedom over our leisure and to continue to pump money into DR’s economy is to suggest that we don’t care about their lives.
2. Sign the petition to pressure the Dominican Republic government to stop the “cleaning” they have planned in the next few days.
3. Encourage the Human Rights Watch to become more vocal about this situation, particularly through their director, Ken Roth, a prolific social media user who hasn’t addressed the situation much–only one tweet of a NY Times story and the Human Rights Watch homepage has nothing about the situation on their homepage. Tweet the @hrw (Human Rights Watch) : “Why are you ignoring Haitians in DR? Stop the exile!” Share the same tweet with both the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses. Call HRW, follow link http://m.hrw.org/contact-us
4. We can continue to complain about what mainstream news media isn’t covering or we can just cover it ourselves. Let’s stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic and remember that, we too, share in their struggle. Keep spreading this news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the word out.
The Bloody Origins of the Dominican Republic’s ethnic “cleansing” of Haitians
Five Things to Know About the “Cleaning” of Haitians from the DR
Why You Should Boycott the Dominican Republic
We Regret to Inform You that in Four Days You and Your Family Will Be Deported to Haiti
The Dominican Republic and Haiti: A Shared View from the Diaspora