Local Haitian-American chef Nahika Hillery has made it her mission to feed and educate people about Haiti. Her dishes have earned her several awards and national attention, but she's using that spotlight to speak about the events happening in Del Rio.
“I hope everyone shares the same sentiments on what’s happening, it is literally inhumane what’s going on right now, it’s devastating,” said Hillery.
Hillery is the chef and owner behind Kreyol Korner Caribbean Cuisine. She delivers, caters, and runs a pop-up food truck for events and festivals.
"It’s been such a great experience, what I do have to say is Austinites have been open arms with the idea of bringing Haitian cuisine here,” said Hillery.
In the last six years, she’s shared her cuisine with Austin, Houston, and across the country on food competition shows. Her goal is to inform people more about Haitian culture through cuisine.
“The cuisine is everything about who we are,” said Hillery,
"We have Spanish influence in our food, Arab influence in our food, African influence in our food, so bringing all of those together really makes our cuisine."
Her mission is now evolving after seeing what’s happening along the border in Del Rio. An estimated 14,000 migrants, mostly asylum seekers fleeing from Haiti, have been camping under the International Bridge in Del Rio. Several shocking photographs have been taken of the situation.
"I think even just the man on the horse with the whip, like, that literally killed me to see that, but that’s like a depiction of what I feel like Americans are towards Haitians just in general," said Hillery.
Hillery is volunteering with an organization in Houston, called Houston Haitians United, to serve food to the arriving migrants, many of whom she says lack necessities.
“I saw so many pregnant women that need maternity clothes,” said Hillery, "so many children that need new shoes."
“Everyone that marched for Black Lives Matter, we need everyone to speak up right now,” said Hillery.
Hillery says the lack of education on the history between Haiti and America is disappointing, and she wants to see more Americans helping.
"They’re of Haitian descent but they’re coming from South America, they spent most of their lives there, so to even consider deporting them to Haiti, to me that’s a humanity problem,” said Hillery, "why would we drop them off in a county they’re not familiar with at all that can’t provide them the resources for the peaceful lives they are looking for?"
The Del Rio port of entry has reopened, and the migrant encampment has now been cleared. Hillery says she will continue to change people’s perceptions of Haiti.
"We have an amazing cuisine we have beautiful music so it’s just really nice to share those parts of who I am, how I grew up, and what Haiti really represents.
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