Ok…we have a community of Haitians that have come over the boarder into the DR…I would assume that most, if not all have come over illegally. They’ve all gathered together in this community and are trying to survive. They are extremely poor…the average family is living off of a half of a sweet potato a day. Hunger is our first issue. The level of poverty forces them to do things they shouldn’t. (perfect conditions for child trafficking) The problem with this, we just saw play out...right before we got here, the people here we’re stealing food out of the fields of the local farmers to survive. The consequence of these actions could have been catastrophic. The farmers came, in the middle of the day, while the parents were off looking for work and food and burned down all their houses while the kids were still home. Fortunately the kids all got out but it could have been bad. Fortunately a 5 year old who was left home caring for a 3 year old had the whereabouts to get his little sister out of the house in time. Problems #2, #3 and #4…it’s rare to see a mother and a father…only mothers in the home (there’s no commitment on the part of the men in the community #2 and the women are allowing the men to come and go as they please #3) and the women who are stuck caring for their 5 to 10 kids don’t know how to care for their kids (#4). We have a heart warming video…I’ll have to get it translated for you and show you later of a mother essentially saying, “I don’t know how to be a mom” "I have a 12 year old daughter and I don’t know what to do.” (this daughter is a high risk individual for child trafficking…vulnerable child on her own=easily trafficked child). There’s another 12 year old girl in the community that is pregnant…this daughters future if education doesn't happen.
Problem #5…Everyone in the community is very uneducated. No one can read or write…from the youngest to the oldest. No education means low level or no work…a vicious poverty cycle. We need a school here. We need to start shoring up the foundation from the ground up. And that school probably needs to be one that could feed the kids that attend. We need to help Pastor Sené figure out how to get a school for his community AND we will help him lead his community to that end.
Fast forward 24 hours and Pastor Sené has offered up his church to also act as the communities school. He’s awesome and catching the vision. Lance Mergens, our country mentor, sat down with him for hours and helped him to create a budget to be able to feed the kids that would attend and what it would cost to be able to hire teachers. The result of that budgeting session: It’s going to cost him $700 a month to feed the 30+ kids that would be attending and to hire the teacher. We quickly approached a donor and can I just say…PEOPLE ARE AWESOME. We have someone that has committed to help Pastor Sené for a full year!!! Now, it’s just about putting some structure in place to make sure we succeed there and we have to find a teacher. The Pastor is on the look. This is SO exciting.
Last problem…people are getting Cholera. No one has bathrooms so they are just going to the bathroom everywhere and people are getting sick. Sounds gross I know, cause it is. Additionally there’s trash everywhere. Problem #6…we have to restore community dignity so that they take pride and care about what happens within their community...good or bad. We're brainstorming but maybe we can put in a simple community bathroom and an incinerator. I may reach out to you all for help on that…stay tuned.
I've gone on long enough...We’re having success!!! To quote one of my favorite holiday film's songs, “Put one step in front of the other…” A great first step wouldn’t you say?