Joel lives in Batey Lechería in the Dominican Republic. Batey is the Haitian word for village. The older generations in Batey Lechería are Haitian.
Life for Haitians in the Dominican is difficult. Unless they have sufficient funds to start their own business, which most do not, they are passed over for work because of their nationality. Dominicans prefer to hire their own countrymen.
Joel lives with his mother and three siblings. His mother works in a cherry plantation. She also washes and irons clothes for additional income. Her income is simply not enough to provide for the basic needs of her family.
Joel's dad abandoned the family when he was just six years old. His dad remains in the village but will not acknowledge or provide for the family.
Joel has sickle-cell anemia and the medial treatment necessary for his condition puts an additional financial strain on his family.
His siblings are Franklin who is 16, Osvaldo who is 15 and Mario who is six years old. Franklin is in charge of caring for the family while Joel's mother is at work.
Currently, Joel is in 4th grade and his favorite subject is language arts. Joel speaks Spanish. In his free time, Joel enjoys playing baseball. He would like to become an engineer in the future.