In 1991, Homelands co-founders Sandy Tolan and Alan Weisman traveled to the Dominican Republic to report on Haitian sugar cane cutters working in near-slavery conditions on Dominican plantations. Their story, Sugar and Sorrow in Hispaniola, aired on NPR’s All Things Considered as part of the Vanishing Homelands series.
Listener Joel Abrams of Boston has never forgotten it. “If you had asked me was I interested in farm workers in Haiti, I would have said no,” he told NPR recently. “But I listened to this, and it really made me care about them and brought them to life as people for me and in a remarkable way.”
On May 5, All Things Considered aired excerpts from Sandy and Alan’s story as part of NPR’s 50th anniversary celebration. You can listen to it here. In a medium as evanescent as radio, it is beyond gratifying to know that the work lives on in people’s hearts.
Not only that — this particular story will have another afterlife. Sandy has been working on a podcast series about his search for Lulu Pierre, one of the cane cutters he and Alan met 30 years ago. He’s also producing a piece on Haitian cane cutters for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. We’ll let you know when there’s something to listen to.