BATEY 5 SLAVE CAMP
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The history of the Dominican Republic includes a hundred years or so of slave labor populated by slaves brought from Africa to work on the sugar cane and other farms in the sweltering heat until they dropped dead in their tracts. They resided in small communities called Bateys and lived in deplorable conditions. Later in history, heads of the Dominican State paid large sums of money to heads of state of Haiti to bring in poor Haitians to work the land. Today, the land remains in the hands of a few who work the land using mostly illegal Haitian immigrants and descendants of slaves. The Bateys remain the poor of the poor, depressed economically, suppressed intellectually and deprived of the most basic of human needs and dignity. They don’t even have decent community names---just Batey 1, Batey 2 ----etc. They remain as modern day slave camps where the next generation has little ability to escape.
Our humanitarian mission activities took us to Batey 5 a few kilometers west of Vicente Noble a community about 3 hours west of Santo Domingo where we live. We are going to finance a water project with the organization World Water Relief. We will put in a water filtration system, and new plumbing to 3 bathrooms and 2 drinking stations at the school in Batey 5. Hopefully, the children will be able to improve their studies and learning capabilities if they have clean water to drink and a decent bathroom to use during the day.
As we passed through Vicente Noble we had the opportunity to visit the municipal cemetery. A man with a machete came out from among the headstones! He scared us at first, but he turned out to be the caretaker (so he said) and actually told us a little bit about the local customs. Dead people are put in a concrete vault and just put on to top of the ground. Family members are stacked on top of each other. If you are wealthy and ambitious enough, you build a little house for your ancestors.
Whenever we are out and about we always like to shop at the roadside markets. You can get pretty good deals on auyama (squash), mango, (we had no idea there are so many different kinds of mango), lechosa, zapote, rabano, etc.
Tim and Marsha Walker, missionaries who hail from Mesa, Arizona were with us on this trip. Elder Walker serves as the mission doctor for the entire Caribbean.
We had fun attending a show put on by CONADIS where handicap people are able to sell their wares. We bought a wire figure, a pretty pot, a hair thingy, and a hen with eggs.
Movie of deaf man carving wood--click on the arrow