|Processing Sugar Cane|
|Joy with some of the kids in the batay|
The difference between Haiti and the Dominican are like night and day. The Dominican has modern cities and visible infrastructure. It is a major tourist destination and many ex-patriats retire there or move there from all over the world. The land is beautifully lush and forrested. The only thing that really seems similar is the depth of poverty in which the Haitians live.
|Houses at Amistad Batay|
|Patients In Clinic|
|Luke Working in Clinic|
|Jacy Giving out Glasses and Josie Giving out Lollipops|
We took our bus and made the 9 hour journey from Port au Prince to Santo Domingo in a quick 14 hours. We had issues at the border- of course- got scammed a couple of times- of course- but made it finally. After one night in "La Capital" we headed to the north coast. Six hours over the mountains to arrive in Puerto Plata for 5 days. We are here with all 6 of our kids including Justice- whose papers that took us an extra month to get but have not even been looked at yet. We also brought Dago, Wesner, Baz, Madame Raymonde, and Jarrod- a PA friend from TX.
|Clinic Under a Mango Tree|
|Loving His New Specs- He's Smiling on the Inside|
|Uncut Sugar Cane Fields Due to US Subsidies|
We got to spend two days doing eye clinics in Batays around Puerto Plata. A Batay is a settlement in the middle of the sugar cane fields where the workers live with their families. The conditions are horrible. No septic, no electricity, limited water, and no security. The two batays in which we worked were even worse off. They are located in the middle of a plantation that a Cuban family owns. The family owns over 1 million acres of sugar cane fields in the DR and are paid subsidies by the U.S. and Dominican governments to NOT harvest the cane anymore. Because of that, the people living in the Batays are out of work. The kids that are born here are not given birth certificates which makes it practically impossible to go ever go to school. We were given a glimpse into yet another facet of the difficulty of the plight of the average Haitian.
|Joy Visiting the Villagers|
The clinics were great. We saw hundreds of very grateful people. The people here are thankful for help and their attitude is different than the people we encounter daily in Montrouis. The people here, young and old alike, just want work. They are not surrounded by humanitarian groups doing free distributions of everything from food to condoms like we see in Haiti. The people are not trained to seek out the white people to meet their needs. They know that if they can find some work, then they can make it. It was refreshing to see that attitude even though the work is so sparse for uneducated and often hated Haitian immigrants.
|Joy Doing a Little Shopping|
We return to Santo Domingo tomorrow to start looking for sources for supplies we need for The Mission. We are also planning to talk to a pastor in the south of the island that works in many of the Batays there and hopefully be able to go and see a working plantation and see how we might be able to help in the future.
Then we return to our home on the other side of Hispaniola. We plannded the trip to be a time of retreat for our staff, relaxation for our family, and an exploratory excusion into the lives and plight of Dominican Haitians. It has been all of the above. We are reminded why we have been called to reach out and share the love of Jesus with some of the most awesome people on earth. What an honor!