Charissa Zehr Archive

Piecing a patchwork towards peace

December 11, 2015 Charissa Zehr

By Charissa Zehr The quilts were hung with care and pride at the front of the open-air pavilion where the graduation ceremony was to take place. The vivid colors and detailed piecework narrated the story of a community that was ripped apart and has worked their way back towards wholeness, piece by piece. On one side, the quilt portrays a rather idyllic scene – children at play, animals, vegetation, and people going about their daily tasks. The opposite quilt stands in stark contrast. The mountain backdrop is similar, but one house is engulfed in flames; armed people in fatigues line […]

Displaced and without a home

August 14, 2015 Charissa Zehr

By Charissa Zehr A crisis is rarely made in a day, and there is no exception with the threat of mass deportations of Haitian migrant workers and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic (D.R.) to Haiti. The D.R. and Haiti have a centuries-long history of simmering tension that has at times boiled over. Almost two years ago, the D.R. Constitutional Court retroactively stripped citizenship from hundreds of thousands of Dominicans with Haitian ancestry. While some of the affected may have parents who migrated recently from Haiti, many have lived in the D.R. for decades and have few ties […]

Dignity and fair wages in Haiti

April 15, 2015 Charissa Zehr

In a quiet farming hamlet in the northern part of Haiti, farmers were forcibly removed from fertile land to make way for a new industrial park in 2012. They were poorly compensated for their land, making it nearly impossible to continue their agricultural livelihoods. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), financers of the Caracol Industrial Park, promised that the investment would yield some 65,000 jobs. To date roughly 5,000 jobs have been created. Workers earn $5-$7 per day and spend one-third on transportation and lunch costs alone. The government of Haiti is aggressively […]