A message from Ulrick Gaillard, J.D.
Founder of the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA)
When I visited the Dominican Republic in the summer of 1996, it was to research and understand better the widely-publicized issue of the Haitian migrant workers or Braceros and their families —and their sub-basic living conditions in labor enclaves known as bateyes. I sought to write a book about their lives, expectations, and future in the foreign State. I also hoped to educate about the legal implications, under international law, found in the bilateral labor treaties between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to have thousands of Haitian men laboring in vast Dominican’s plantations under questionable conditions — and denying their Dominican born children the country’s nationality because their parents are undocumented or “in transit.”
After months of interactions with the migrants, their families and leaders; reading articles and reports; and interviews of individuals with extensive knowledge on the issue, however, I came to the firm conclusion that the tragic socio-economic conditions of thousands of Dominican and Haitian migrant families in the bateyes would not change simply by writing a book. The population instead needed a structured environment to give them equal access to basic living necessities, health care, technical skills capable of fostering self-sufficiency — and to guarantee their children the human right to be healthy and educated, productive and not a societal burden.
It was based on those basic principles that the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) came into existence on October 23, 1997. Through bona fide partnerships with the batey communities, government and religious institutions, the non-profit and corporate sectors, and concerned individuals, we have been able to take unprecedented steps that have cleared the path for thoughtful dialogues and collaborative alleviating endeavors. Our 2001 International Conference at the United Nations provided a unique opportunity for scholars, government officials and grass-roots organizations to analyze together their achievements, goals and frustrations in dealing with serious issues of migration, labor, poverty and rights. Meanwhile various parties remain committed to join forces with BRA for the benefit of those we serve.
I would like to acknowledge our dedicated Board of Directors, partners, associates and volunteers that have enabled BRA to move closer to fulfilling its mission one step at a time. Thanks to them we have grown significantly, not only in numbers but also in knowledge and expertise, leadership ability and creative wisdom.
We open the doors of our organization to you so we can continue searching for better ways to improve the lives of those who are unable to achieve much — although capable — because of economic, political or racial barriers. It is a human investment that will in the end benefit us all.
I thank you for visiting us. Please stay in touch. Tell others about us.
Excerpts from this audio were taken from a speech given by Ulrick Gaillard in 1998 during a presss conference held at the Hotel Santo Domingo with members of the Dominican’s State Sugar Council (CEA) and the Haitian Embassy after he had organized the organization’s first medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic just one year after founding the Batey Relief Alliance in 1997.
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