Today we learned the meaning of hard work. We met downstairs for breakfast at 7:30 and we had fresh fruit and fritters, filled with cheese, chicken or fish. They were delicious and prepared us for the work ahead of us.
We traveled to a Haitain batey in San Joaquin to help build a structure to hold and sell filtered water at the local church. The batays evolved when the Dominican government brought Haitain workers to work in the sugar cane plantations. Now that the demand for workers in the plantation has diminished, the Dominican government wants to send them back. However, the Haitain government will not accepet them back because they do not have paperwork proving that they are Haitain, leaving them essentially country-less. Because of this, the batays are typically not given government assistance, causing them to rely on organizations such as Foundation for Peace for resources.
Currently, the batay residents must travel long distances to purchase bottled water that they are able to safely consume. The new water filtration system will greatly improve the quality of their water and will allow the church to sell it at affordable prices to the community. We started by moving a pile of dirt and rocks away from the construction site. The majority of the day was spent mixing cement, pouring a footing, and laying cinder blocks for the walls. It a was a team effort orchestrated by Fausto, who likes things done “muy rapido!” We had fantastic little helpers (young, but incredibly strong children) who helped us build the structure and impressed us with their strength. It’s safe to say, everyone was dirty and sore by the time we were done. Luckily, Marilyn and Dr. Taylor played mother hens by making us go inside when our faces were red to rehydrate and rest. It was also interesting to see nursing and psychology students doing health screenings from house to house. Overall, it was a very busy and tiring experience and no one wants to hear the word “cubo” (bucket) for the next ten years. We appreciated the break from speech pathology and audiology and were excited to see the fruits of our physical labor at the end of the day.
Before leaving, we walked through the batay to see the houses and a glimpse of their way of life. The houses were mostly made of wood with tin roofts and we saw children taking baths in small buckets outside. They washed clothes by hand and hung them up to dry outside. The locals wore thin clothing due to the heat, humidity, and lack of air conditioning. They also have one community toilet in an outhouse in the center of the batay that is used by most of the residents. It was nothing like anything we had seen before.
Once we arrived back at the Mission house, everyone was looking forward to the cold shower. Shower times doubled as we tried to get all the dirt and cement off our bodies and out of our hair. We had a delicious dinner of fried chicken, vegetables, fried plantains, and french fries. We finished everything they made and still had room for ice cream from the local ice cream parlor. We were super excited for this little slice of heaven. Now that everyone has full bellies and sore muscles, we are ready for sleep. We have another long, but exciting, day ahead of us tomorrow as we head to Casa de Luz, an orphanage for children with disablities, where the speech girls will get to use their master minds to work on feeding skills. Buenas noches!
Kati Lanner, Caleb McNiece, Jasmin Peter
Sent from my iPad