The Dominican Republic has a long history of tension between the various ethnic groups that settled the island of Hispaniola over the centuries. Over the past 15 years in the area of Somos Amigos Medical Clinic, the tension between those of Haitian descent and the more lightly-complexioned Dominicans has gradually lessened. In the region surrounding the clinic, the farmers welcome the cheap labor provided by those fleeing Haiti, and the locals look out for each other. However, due to government policy to expel all Haitians from the Dominican Republic, there is still some tension and the Haitians are always fearful of rejection.
One day during the January clinic week in El Naranjito, a Haitian mother and her 4 children were waiting for medicines from the doctor who had treated them. They had been at the clinic for many hours (as had many other patients). The 3-year-old started crying and rubbing her tummy. It was not necessary to speak Haitian Creole to understand that she was very hungry. The mother tried to comfort her. Then, one of the almost-blond-haired, Dominican children of about the same age walked away from her mother who was waiting to see a doctor and quietly handed the little Haitian girl a snack pack of crackers she had been saving to eat. The Haitian mother was overjoyed, expressing her thanks with a smile and words in Creole.