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BOL 2013  *  Ñapa  *  BOL 2012  *  Poem  *  Virtual Vigil  * 

Border of Lights
October 4-6, 2013

At border between Haiti & Dominican Republic

But we will also be holding a Virtual Vigil
Please join us

Border of Lights Team at the Border during the Vigil. Border of Lights, October 2013
Border of Lights, October 2013
Julia Alvarez with Lesly Manigat in Solidarity at Border of Lights, October 2013
Solidaridad. Dominicana. Haitiano.
Lesly Manigat y Julia Alvarez.

Message from Julia
September 24, 2013

As many of you know, last year for the 75th Anniversary of the Haitian Massacre, a group of us organized ourselves under the name, Border of Lights, and we assembled at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We lit up the border with light and song and poetry and a service. Additionally, we spent three days in the border towns of Dajabón (DR) and Ouanaminthe (Haiti) doing service projects with Haitians and Dominicans, collaborating together. We were able to clean up the park in Ouanaminthe, leave implements for the locals to continue the mainteance (a lawn mower, pruning shears, shovels, hoes), feed upwards of a hundred volunteers who came to help, deliver 1500 small trees to be planted on the desolate, eroded hills above Massacre River, as well as conduct workshops with students in the park and in a Sunday gathering in Dajabón.

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The gathering was an immensely powerful and moving testament to the goodwill which exists between the people in both countries. But it is only the beginning of a shift in a history of violence and conflict between these two traditional "enemies." Border of Lights is committed to continuing our work as a community of concerned artists, activists, Dominicans, Haitians, with supporters of many nationalities. So, again, on this 76th anniversary of the massacre, we are gathering at the border in Dajabón and Ouanaminthe, continuing our project work, with a special emphasis this year on outreach to young people. We are hoping to hold workshops and interactive sessions with school children of both nationalities.

This year, because of increased tensions between the two countries, we have not been able to procure the permits to gather at the border and have been discouraged from any large group gathering. We will still be holding a service and a small group of us will stand at the border in solidarity. Instead we are asking supporters to join us for an online vigil, October 5, Saturday, from 8-10 pm (EST). This is a way that those who cannot be physically on the ground with us can "join" us online. We hope the Virtual Vigil goes viral and global, as this will send a powerful message to both countries that there is a community out there supporting change, peace, harmony between both countries.

Inspiration:
A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship, a book of nonfiction by Julia Alvarez, available now in hardcover and paperback -- click for book summary
A Wedding in Haiti

Visit our website: borderoflights.org.

Please be sure to follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/BorderofLights.

Twitter handle for BOL is @border_oflights.

Thank you for
joining us!
Julia Alvarez

Virtual Vigil, October 5, 2013

During our Virtual Vigil we chatted with supporters on Twitter and Facebook. Here are some of the questions and answers.


Terican, Age 35, Maryland, asks:

With the new citizenship laws that have been passed, stripping many Dominicans (mainly Haitian-descendant) of their citizenship, how can faith-based mission groups that work in the Dominican Republic be sure that they are ministering to the needs of the communities who may be drastically affected by this new law? How can they be mindful of the particular needs of these communities?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Terican: I think a lot of the most important work being done in social justice is by many faith-based organizations. This year, Jesuit community and nuns on both sides of border helped us with our projects and supported us. The former head of Episcoplian church in DR came out strongly against the recent ruling. The "answers" come from asking the questions you are asking and then listening, listening with "the ears of the heart," and with the social conscience not to remain silent, not to lose hope, not to let the lights go out, thus: Border of lights!


Jazmine, Age 15, Jamaica Queens, NY, asks:

What inspires you to do the work you?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Jazmine, when I was 15 years old, I was living in Jamaica, Queens. Now, part of what inspires me is thinking of young women like you who need to know you can dream big and you can follow what your talents are to help the world become a better place.


Maritza, Age 23, Miami, FL of GLAM Life Blog, asks:

What does this new court decision mean for Dominicans of Haitian descent? Is there absolutely nothing that can be done to reverse it? What steps must be taken to improve the state of Haitian-Dominican relations? How can we heal from all we've been through? Some people think that this massacre should be laid to rest because it was "so long ago." How can we help others understand the importance of this historical event and its current implications?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Maritza: This new court decision is a not erasure of Dominicans of Haitian descent. What can be done about it: We, the people, need to unite and raise our voices. Border of lights, our vigil, the different activities organized to protest are important. We need your voice, your community's voice. What we can do to improve relations are small but significant steps. Like our annual commemoration of the 1937 massacre. Today BOL was in Haiti, working with kids in Ouanaminthe, cleaning up a park, proving in very small ways we can work together. The day before we were in Dajabón, having a group dialogue with locals about relations between the two countries. We cannot go forward with true solidarity unless we first recognize what happened in the past. Otherwise, as proven by the recent ruling, we keep repeating the past! But don't give up, Martiza. We need your voice, your conscience, your youth and passion to help us!


Aranelis, Age 13, Modesto, CA, asks:

Isn't it one island? Why is there So much tension?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Aranelis: I agree and would go even further: One small planet: why so much tension?


Alexandra, Age 32, asks:

What are some positive things that have come from mending both sides?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Alexandra: The positives are there in a hundred little ways! Border of Lights group saw it left and right today. Why it's important to come together. We, the people, need to join together and show that we are one people.


Ivan, Age 20, Cambridge, MA, asks:

What brought your group together? What is the story behind Border of Lights?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Ivan: Some day we will write the long version, but here is the short version: Why BOL? How could we live with ourselves if we kept silent once we knew the story?


Nasira: Age 9, Cleveland, OH asks:

What made you want to stop bullying?

Julia Alvarez answers:

Nasira, I never thought of myself as a bully, but I suppose there have been times when I was less than kind. Those times, when I see the hurt or pain in someone's face I think what if this person was my sister or my daughter or my mother? Then, my heart melts. I think you can't teach people these things. You can only be the good example that makes them realize there is a better way. And no matter what, keep loving them! Then, they will see that they are lovable. And then, they can stop beating up on themselves!


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