Sweet sugar cane, sour reality

Most of the people that work and live in the Dominican Republic’s bateys are Haitian and really poor Dominican. They are working together for the sugar cane company. They suffer from nationwide discrimination and are forgotten. They suffer bodily pain, skin rash, malnutrition, hunger, frustration, sadness and anger, all at once. These workers are living under terrible, deplorable and unbelievable conditions to help themselves and other people like us to live “the sweet life.” Meanwhile, they are the ones who are doing the enormous work, getting rashes from cutting the sugarcane and doing work the human body is not able or willing to do. These batey people are the ones that bring sweetness to all Dominicans, Haitians and the rest of the world. As a Dominican-American, it’s really sad when I come to my country to do a humanitarian mission and see how different things are and compare the two countries to one another.

After the amazing week that I worked at different bateys and in the barrio, I can say that, “Yes! I saw God!”. It was sad, but at the same time it was worth it. I saw God wherever I went with this beautiful, wonderful, merciful, helpful and incredible team that God has called to work in His name and for the glory of His only and Holy Son Jesus Christ. God has used all of us in different ways as part of his body: where all of us are an important part of Him and for Him. I have a picture in my heart and memories that will last forever and will go with me wherever I go. This experience will help me to improve the “Children of God Ministry.” I praise God for all the people who’ll come to work in Dominican Republic as a team; a team like the team we had here that week at La Romana. Even though we came from different states and many of us met for the first time here at the mission, we all worked together with our hearts filled with love, to serve the Lord and minister and evangelize to all God children.

I thank God every day for all the things that I get to receive from Him and for His mercy. I thank God for all the things that I get to do and to help those who provide for my brothers and sisters in Jesus. I would like to personally thank each person in the team for being very good, flexible, compassionate, and willing to help and praise God in every moment in their lives and with their actions. I extended and especially thanks to Dr. Donald Anderson, for all the effort, dedication, perseverance, passion, patience and Love that he put into this ministry to make it possible and to make it happen. May God bless all and each of the leaders, because with their wisdom and direction, everything was possible. Thanks to the rest of the team for being there all the time and everywhere we went to and for all the support that they gave me in a time of darkness. I saw God in the team itself.

(Deuteronomy: 8)

Raquel Alvarez
Rhode Island
Santo Domingo

Re-entry

I was looking forward to returning home, seeing my husband, checking all that email, wolfing down cereal and fruit for breakfast and potatoes for dinner, my own bed and a hot shower. Lots of things that make me like where I live. I found all of that here, but I was also surprised that my return was not as smooth and easy as I expected. Looking at photos reminds me of so many people hurting and oppressed. I was engaged with a purpose and a pace that doesn’t fit here at home. Friends and family are eager to tell me of their week and how they waited until I returned before making decisions, and what do I think, and won’t I be part of this or that project. They don’t feel, they can’t feel what I experienced and they are caught up in their own busy routines. Probably by the end of the week, I will be up to speed and able to respond with more clarity to demands of job, friends, and family. But I want to hang on to the spirit filled community on the trip and the hope filled people we visited. I must seek another purpose and pace here at home. I just need a few days to adjust.

Jean Burton
Member
Emmanuel Baptist
Albany

Gooey mess

Most nights we gathered in the dining hall and stayed up late counting pills and sorting clothes to take to the bateys the next day. We also mixed this gooey mix of vaseline and sulfa which when spread on one’s body can combat scabies. This is an annoying and unpleasant process but then again so is having scabies. Doing this in the bateys where there is little running water and lots of dust sounds like a recipe for a mud encrusted child! On day five, we discovered that our pharmacy had a stock of a medication which also combated scabies with just one or two small pills by mouth. What a difference! Hopefully future medical teams with use this medication and forgo this gooey mix.

Jean Burton
Member
Emanuel Baptist
Albany

The routines of home

As I settle into the routines of home, I find I am thinking most of the children. They are so beautiful! They have bright, curious smiles, and they love having their pictures taken. They pull me from one place to another so that I can take a picture of them by this bush or by that fence or with their little brother, cousin, friends. One little boy shares a piece of sugar cane with me. A little girl tries to teach me a song. I try to teach them the Hokey Pokey.

We make do with our lack of common language.

They make do without so many things we take for granted. In all of the bateyes I visited, and among the hundreds of children I encountered, I saw a total of eight toys. Two girls had Barbie dolls, both without any outfits or accessories. One boy had a softball and a beat-up glove. A group of children played with two “kites,” which were plastic grocery bags on a string. And finally, in one batey, two trucks made from quart juice bottles with bottle-cap wheels. I wonder what they would make of our Toys R Us emporiums and Buy Buy Baby stores. I hope they get the chance to find out.

Edith Leet
Member
Emmanuel Baptist
Albany