Whenever I travel, I love to get off the tourist track and connect with local people to see how they live. That’s why I was so excited to get to visit student homes to see how these kids live in the Dominican Republic. As I mentioned in my post about Dove Missions, this was a real highlight of my trip.
The students who attend Dove’s programs do not have a lot. They live in very small houses that are right up next to each other.
They make use of all the space they have, even the little alleys between their houses.
Some have been lucky to get concrete houses donated by international charities, like WestJet in Canada. Most have to use simple materials to build with. For instance, here you can see the ceiling in one house, and a window in another, made with steel.
Inside, the people are really creative with not a lot of space. I was really impressed with how much they were able to fit in such a small area.
Another obstacle they deal with is electricity and water. They only get these things intermittently. In fact, we were told that water only turns on about twice a week. Often, it comes in the middle of the night, at 2 am, so they wake up to fill buckets so that they can save it for the next day. They have to be very careful with their water, because they only have a small amount to use for cleaning the house, dishes, laundry, cooking, bathing, etc. The water is good to drink, but you can boil it to kill any parasites that might be in the water. I don’t know if they do this or not.
Another problem is what to do with trash. They don’t have trash pick up, or even any good place to put trash. Some people collect recycling and make very very little money for it. Unfortunately, people need to throw trash just outside of their houses, because there’s no other option.
So, even though they live in a beautiful spot right on the ocean, the water near their houses is not so clean.
Despite not having a lot, the people in these communities seem very happy. They take care of each other well.
They even have pets. There are lots of adorable puppies around, but also cats, birds, goats, pigs, chickens, and more.
We met one woman who lost her niece, and she was raising the orphaned kids as if they were her own. Many people in this area really help each other out in these kinds of ways.
The houses get very hot during the day, so people gather outside to spend time together and support each other. Dominoes is a really popular game in the Dominican Republic.
It was a little strange for me to be a visitor in this small community. I wanted to be respectful of their privacy, but I also felt that it was really valuable to bring back these pictures for you to see.
My hope is to help people in the United States and other more developed countries to open their eyes to the diversity of ways that people in developing countries live. I don’t want to gawk or sensationalize poverty. These people have tough lives, but they are also just like you or me in many ways. If one of you sees this and decides to go out and do something to help improve people’s lives, then I’ll feel that this blog entry was worth posting.
Any of us could have been like this little guy, born into a place like this. Can you imagine living here?
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