A journey to one of the bateys of the Dominican Republic began with a group of hopeful Northeastern students with a single goal in mind. They wanted to improve the lives of the poor people living there – simple as that. I am one of those hopeful students, and stating that I learned a lot about the individuals who lived in such bateys would not serve justice to my true emotions. As soon as we arrived, the children of the community poured out into
the road and ran to greet us; the brightness of their smiles did not only accentuate their warm, delicate faces, it was also an indication of hope. Our mission in the batey was to speak with as many people as possible – the old and young, the deaf and blind – in order to grasp a clear understanding of the causation of the prominent problems. At first sight, I knew that the people lived in misery: children played amongst the trash, people wore wor -out clothes, and the ubiquitous smell of waste exacerbated the conditions in which
One of the children whom I met at Mata Los Indios, the batey, stood out to me. His name is Diego, a five year old who was one of the first to run to us in delight. He asked for a piggyback ride, as did many of the other kids. I will never forget the way he laughed and
became overjoyed just by me playing with him. I thought that it couldn’t be that this child had never played with others before, but rather, it is because it was one of the very few instances that someone had shown compassion and played individually with him; it was the same for the other twenty or so children who surrounded us. Hearing the parents of the children talk to us about the instances in which the children and them spend periods of hunger and sickness was appalling, and the more I saw and heard, the more compelled the group and I felt to help these people out.
We are currently investigating the main problems of Mata Los Indios, and as I presumed, hunger, a lack of clean water, and a lack of jobs were the underlying factors that further perpetuated the level of poverty and misery. In order to solve these problems, the group and I are working diligently to concoct a strategy that can potentially provide the people with the guidance and resources they need and allow them to strive for a better life. With the help of MOSCTHA, the organization that we are cooperating with in that community, and a unified effort on behalf of the students, I am hopeful that Diego and the rest of the children will have a better life: one in which hunger, pain, and misery are merely problems of the past.
-Ricardo Ortiz, International Business