Bearing witness

We spent the past two days driving to Dajabon, a town on the border of Haiti and the DR and on the International Road, which separates the two countries. We drove to Dajabon on Sunday and spent the night at a small parish some miles away. Our accommodations were simple — there was no water because of heavy rains and the river level, but we had drinking water.

We had a great time in the evening with a dominoes tournament ( I am buying some to bring back so prepare to learn how to play) and then playing “Mafia,” which sounds bad but we had fun trying to figure out who was pretending to be someone else. An innocent smile doesn’t get you far in that game.

Dajabon on market day is nearly indescribable. I know now what people mean when they talk about a sea of humanity. A bridge over the river that separates Haiti and the DR is open on market day and people from Haiti flood back and forth, trying to get as much as they can. We saw small men, barefoot, running with bags of rice weighing down their shoulders — the rice had to weigh 100 pounds. Wooden carts laden with mountains of plantains were pulled by one man, pushed by two more. We saw things I never thought I would see.

Our trip on the International Road brought us face to face with a small piece of the reality of Haiti. Children obviously suffering from starvation and malnutrition chased after our bus. Houses of sticks and mud dotted the hillsides, bare of the trees that still cover the DR side.

During tonight’s reflection, Kyle asked us to think about bearing witness and what that means for each of us. How will we be witnesses of what we saw today? It’s a question I want to keep asking myself.

Carol Zuegner

About Carol Zuegner

I am a journalism professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. I teach writing, social media, media entrepreneurship, international mass communication and I am lucky enough to be a part of Backpack Journalism. I focus on interviewing, writing and being Mama Zoogs.

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