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Border of Lights 2012

Border of Lights began with a handful (of Dominican- and Haitian-Americans and others in solidarity with us) who wanted to commemorate the anniversary of the Haitian Massacre. The movement grew over the course of nine months of preparation for the gathering we planned on both sides of the border, October 4-6, 2012, seventy-five years after the massacre (October 2-10, 1937).

We were all deeply moved by the response of so many generous, good-hearted people. In fact, we raised over $5000 on Kickstarter, funds we used for buying equipment (a lawnmower, hedge clippers, paint, brooms) for cleaning up a park right across the border in Quanaminthe, Haiti, and buying 1,500 trees to plant on both sides of the river. We also served lunch to two hundred Haitian and Dominican volunteers who showed up to help with the cleanup. It's amazing how much we packed into three days in the border cities of Dajabón (DR) and Quanaminthe (Haiti).

Border of Lights, October 2012
Border of Lights, October 2012

For me, the most thrilling moment came the first night, after a mass of reconciliation, when we marched through the streets of Dajabón with candles and white flowers and stood vigil on the border, singing, reciting poems.

Finally, what a thrill: answering lights came from the Haitian side and floating lanterns were placed on the water. Where seventy-five years before, the river had flowed with blood, now it was a river of light. Our Haitian brothers and sisters shouted out greetings, we threw the white flowers we had carried with us into the river.

Across the River: Haiti. Photo by Bill Eichner. Border of Lights, October 2012
Across the River: Haiti

We are planning to make this an annual gathering, and who knows, perhaps a global event, Borders of Lights: every year people along troubled borders and inside communities in conflict can gather to express their solidarity; their longing for peace, justice, and collaboration. We are brothers and sisters who have to learn to get together on this planet if we are going to survive as one human family.

Dalai Lama in Vermont, October 2012
Dalai Lama

This view was corroborated upon my return by none other than the Dalai Lama, who was visiting the Middlebury College campus. (Somebody pinch me and tell me so much magic is possible in two short weeks!) Educate the mind, the Dalai Lama encouraged teachers and students in the audience, but be sure the heart keeps pace. And always open it up, make all you do be about something bigger than just you.

Further Reading:
Read my ñapa: "Hay dos países"
Border of Lights --, also on facebook
NPR TELL ME MORE program with Edwidge and Julia (listen)
NPR Blog: Remembering To Never Forget: Dominican Republic's 'Parsley Massacre'
Miami Herald: Haitians and Dominicans remember Parsley Massacre, 75 years later
Christian Science Monitor: Haitians, Dominicans try to move beyond Parsley Massacre's long shadow
Deutsche Welle: Hispaniola hopes to heal wounds of the past
BBC: The massacre that marked Haiti-Dominican Republic ties

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