Today was another day of extreme highs and extreme lows. Seems to be the norm this week.
We visited another community today – about an hour outside of Santo Domingo. I thought we had seen the worst place on earth … I was so wrong. Today we spent time in a Haitian slum in the DR. It is one of the three poorest areas in the DR. Hopelessness. They have nothing – some kids didn’t even have clothes. Their eyes are empty. Three little kids found us when we arrived – one little dude took my hand as we walked. The two little girls giggled a bit with me. Other than that you heard nothing but a couple of roosters and a starving dog with a strange whimper. It is by far the most hideous environment you can imagine. There is a child there with special needs – I wanted to take him away and find him a home. CI has built three latrines there that help with sanitation. We also built a water station so they have water in this village. We have 25 sponsored children here and have 6 waiting for sponsors. Sadness and hopelessness.
We spent the rest of the day at the CI Bailey Center. It is an amazing place with doctors, dentists, a playground, a garden for the moms, a library and computer room. It is like an oasis in this area of complete sadness. You hear kids laughing, moms talking together, teens meeting on a variety of projects they are working on, a teacher working with 3 & 4 year olds and music outside in the courtyard. We met our sponsor son, Christopher. He is 7 years old and one of four children who lives with his lovely single mom. Jim gave him a new baseball mitt and ball – he didn’t take it off the rest of the day! He is smart, sweet and loving. He doesn’t have a bed and mom doesn’t have a way too cook food, so we are going to figure that out when we get home. He needs someplace to sleep. Mom hasn’t had a good life, but her faith is strong and she loves those four kids. She told me she feels blessed to have what they do. She said she prays for a way to cook, materials for their home (shack) to keep the rain out and something for the five of them to sleep on.
The kids sang and danced for us and we got to dance with them. It was a true honor meeting the moms and volunteers (and the amazing staff) who keep the CI center in this community delivering such vibrant programs for these children. One mom made us a traditional Dominican lunch. Our little dude,Christopher, ate two full plates and had three bottles of fresh water. He gave us huge hugs goodbye and asked us to come back to visit – with our kids 🙂
The week has given us so many memories and we’ve shed so many tears (happy and sad). The poorest of the poor have shown us friendship, love and kindness. Last night we surprised an amazing young man who has been a sponsored child for 14 years ( he is 19 now) and volunteers at the center. He and his Father came to the restaurant (a huge thing in their lives), but had no idea why we invited them. We gave him a 4 year scholarship to college plus books and transportation. He looked up with tears rolling down his face and thanked God, his family and Children International. This was a night we will never forget – a kid who came from NOTHING but a home made of garbage and now is headed to college to become a teacher. Truly blessed to have met him!
Grateful for this gift from CI – meeting those that the world has completely left behind. Meeting loving Moms, rock star volunteers and staff and absolutely precious children. Grateful.