Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Out and About in Little Haiti

One of the things that we have come to realize throughout our work these past two days is how important outreach is. As Aman said "anyone can fill out forms, but it takes more to make a connection and gain someone's trust."

Our morning on Tuesday was largely spent wandering around little Haiti in community centers, churches and residential areas near Nicoles in order to talk to people about what TPS is, why we are there, and why we want to do this. One of the things that we think that people forget is that we are strangers showing up in someone's community and telling them to trust us. I think by the end of Tuesday we felt good about what we had done there because it felt like we had started to make some connections in the area. We had made enough of a connection that people were sending their friends over to the clinic, people were coming back to the clinic when they said that they would, and Aman even made a connection that could allow him to make an announcement on pirate radio. One thing that we felt might make it easier would be a deeper connection and liaison within the community.

In the morning Nicole, Christine and I went to Notre Dame Church, and we felt that having someone there who was already a presence in the area would have made it easier to talk to the people there, and might have made us a more credible presence. Overall I think that outreach will continue to be important, even if the clinic is flooded with people: making a connection in Little Haiti will continue to be important for future work in the area.

That being said, intake went really well. We had 8 clients who came in, and it seems that now that they have met us and trust us a bit, there may be more people who will come to the night clinics, or the clinics in the next week. One woman mentioned that she knew of a lot of people who had received deportation notices (but had never left the country) and were therefore extremely nervous to file any kind of paperwork at all. Hopefully now that we have established some credibility more people will come in!

Ed. note: Dana Isaac is a second-year law student at the University of San Francisco.

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