In 2012, Marie Rose was living in Santo Domingo. As a native of Port Au Prince, Haiti she moved to the Dominican Republic in 2006 in search of work. “There were no opportunities in the Capital,” she said. “I had no choice but to go.” Managing a small street-side market stall where she sold toiletries, she made a reasonable income, “I liked my life over there,” she said, with a nostalgic smile. “If they hadn’t come after me, I never would have left.”
One day, Dominican Officials came unexpectedly and demanded to see her paperwork. “I did not have the papers I needed to live there, and I begged with him in Spanish, but it was all over. They took everything I had and threw it in their truck. He took all my merchandise.”
Marie Rose was forced to sleep in a holding cell before being transported and left at the Malpasse Border Crossing. “It was so sad,” she said. “My kids were still at the house. I had to ask my neighbors to take care of them until I could get enough money to send for them. It was six months before they were able to meet me at the border.”
As the main point of contact for the Haitian Immigration Center at Malpasse, Madame Toussaint came to collect Marie Rose and bring her to the encampment at Fonds Bayard. Life is challenging for the estimated 1,000 residents of the community, all of whom were deported or fled persecution over the last decade. With virtually no formal industry, and a lack of formal paperwork, for many at Fonds Bayard, life is experienced in limbo.
Until recently, Marie Rose lived as a sans papier, a person without paperwork proving their identity. On April 4th, 2017, however, everything changed when REBUILD globally partnered with Life Church who facilitated and processed more than 230 birth certificates for people in Fonds Bayard.
“Life is different now. I was really afraid to live without any ID, and it created a lot of problems for me,” Marie Louise said. “Having a formal identity in Haiti means I can do a lot of things I couldn’t do before. For example, I was baptized, but my church wanted a birth certificate to give me a certificate of baptism. I was submerged in water but had no proof. Now I will be able to prove it.”
Marie Rose is now empowered to make plans for her future, “When I was having problems with money, I used to ask for loans, and they would deny me because I didn’t have a birth certificate. This won’t be a problem now. Also, if I want to get married, now I can,” she smiled. “I don’t have a boyfriend yet, but I would like to get married one day.”
Soon, Marie Louise would like to return to the Dominican where she can buy product and return to Haiti to sell in the market, “I would love a passport so I can go back. They wouldn’t be able to mess with me now.
If they ask for my papers in the street, now I can proudly look them in the eye and say, ‘HERE IT IS!’”
Life Church and REBUILD globally are working together to provide more opportunities for legal citizenship for refugees like Marie Rose. You can support our work by sharing this post or joining our Pathways to Impact Monthly Giving Movement!