We responded to a call from a stake to help a clinic in Las Americas, a subdivision of Santo Domingo. This little clinic services the poorest area of the Dominican Republic that we have seen yet. The following pictures do not convey the feeling we had as we began to descend steps through a congested neighborhood ever doing down down down. Think of a natural cave with steps leading down ever getting darker and narrower. Add filth in the narrow passages, sewer water ditches that over flow whenever it rains, leaking PVC water pipes, smell and disease and you might get an idea of what we experienced this week. There are 3 neighborhoods called HOYOS (holes) where the poor of the poor somehow survive.
We were not prepared. Edith had on a nice dress and blouse. We both wore our best go to church shoes. We did not have on proper attire or nose masks to trend through the slim pits that accompany the oppressed of the earth.
Yet, it is unbelievable that we saw smiles on some faces---even cheerfulness on some. Others were obviously suffering. The little kids are running around in filthy conditions and the little boys had fungus all over their heads oblivious to what it means to be a Child of God.
Near the bottom a man has a yucca production factory. Wallace used to like yucca bread—not any more.
The sewer in one of the neighborhoods all drains to a natural cave opening, ponds and soaks into the ground through the many cracks in the earth. Little houses cling to the rock all around barely distinguishable from the cesspool that is their back yard.
When the sun goes down, delinquency reigns, and people swelter in the heat or freeze in the rain until the daylight comes again. There is no escape!
We are going to do what we can for the health clinic. They operate on practically nothing. No-one pays and the government gives the clinic very little. All you out there thinking the government knows how to take care of your health care needs to come visit this area with us.
It is depressing to know that all the medicine, nebulizers, vaccines, and bandages and other stuff we can buy in the world for this clinic is not going to solve the black hole these people live in.
Upon returning to our apartment, we washed our clothes and showered and continue to count our many blessings. We used to complain---we don’t complain about anything now.
We don’t even complain about the bichos (little bugs) that get on our clothes every time we visit a certain house in Monte Plata. These little critters have bitten us up pretty good leaving nasty red itchy blotches on our feet and legs.
Leaking PVC water pipe
Sewer ditches in middle of walkway
Another sewer ditch. This area floods every rainstorm
Someone had chickens.
Little girl didn't like her hair in braids
Little boys with fungus on their head
Yucca man proud of his work
Health Clinic personnel who took us on the tour
We invited a veterinarian to come to Monte Plata to teach the families about chickens. The meeting was well attended. Edith brought the refreshments and won new friends. Several women lined up to take the empty juice cartons home. Unfortunately, Edith only had two.
We purchased the paint and other materials needed to make some much needed repairs at the building of one of our wheelchair partners. They served us Sancocho, a popular Dominican stew.
Wallace with his big serving of sancocho (Dominican Stew)
"How many can ride on a moto? One more"