During Sunday service, one of the kids shared a song with us. It takes a lot of courage to sing and play guitar in front of a crowd. KUDOS!
The tireless efforts of Blanco, Dr. Grau, Dr. West, Dr. Bob and others that have guided us on this mission typify the wisdom of an old Haitian proverb: “Beyond mountains, there are more mountains.” More than a decade after the Blanco’s Kids project came to life, these courageous leaders have shown us that even the smallest contribution need not be in vain. Over the years, the mission has been fraught with one challenge after another, but this has never deterred them. Today, what stands is a shining example of what can result when optimistic and dedicated individuals continue to add even “drops in the bucket”. Join us on this journey.
Years ago, while studying medicine abroad in my ancestral Philippines, I was struck with a dilemma that would haunt me for some time. I was astonished by the wretched poverty I witnessed among my people. Having spent my entire life in America, I was compelled to wonder, “Why not me?” How did I escape such poverty? What made me deserving of a life free of the this type of hardship? Am I deserving? I felt guilt, gratefulness, anger, sadness, and even happiness about this. All of these feelings were justifiable, but none of these put me at ease. Eventually, my reading of Christian Scripture helped me to reconcile myself with this situation by giving me the insight that my life’s hardship is of another kind. For myself and others who are more fortunate, our lifelong battle is to devote ourselves in some way to protecting those who need the most.
After meeting Thomas, Uchenna, Omolara, Magy, Elizabeth, Sheena, Caryelle, Stanley, and Sean, it did not take long for me to understand that God has abundantly bestowed each of them with uncommon compassion, generosity, and ability. Along with such privilege, I believe each of them has been vested with great responsibility. Serving here in the Dominican Republic and shedding light on the plight of the Bateyes, upon returning to America, is a terrific way to uphold this responsibility, if only in a small way.
To those who are of like mind, I encourage you to join us in this important struggle. The people whose lives you will touch will no doubt bless yours more than you could possibly improve theirs.
(Something I realized while on this trip, influenced from moments of feeling limited in my ability to help after witnessing the complexity of poverty contributed by the darkness of prejudice and hatred)
The Dominican Republic is an island paradise and home to many snowbirds trying to escape the bitter cold every winter. Regardless of what visitors set out to achieve while on vacation they cannot avoid occasionally bumping into someone from neighboring Haiti. If one is to peel away the layers and delve deeper he/she will discover an imminent public health crisis facing hundreds of Haitians in this beautiful island paradise, especially in and around the sugar plantations in the so called “Bateys” where the plight of many of these “stateless” people is at its worst and social conditions are primitive. Visiting this spring with a group of public health colleagues from Rutgers was a poignant experience that demand more than just a cursory awareness. From preliminary evaluations of the health and social conditions in many of these “bateys ” it is clear that the situation requires urgent attention. There is abject poverty compounded by deficient / non-existent access to drinking water ,food ,basic needs, sanitation and waste disposal. Men, women and children including the elderly and young babies face certain death and disease if nothing is done immediately to get beyond simple awareness. Many organizations within the DR ,USA and Canada are providing assistance. Much more needs to be done and it doesn’t require much resources. Get in contact with Rutgers School of Public Health for more information and what you can do to help.