Saturday, August 25, 2012


no matter how many international films i've watched, global health reports i've studied, development books i've read, or how informed i've chosen to make myself, there is nothing like real-life experience.
a real-life experience with people who live every day in poverty, who know nothing else.

today, we went to caraballo, a little batey about an hour's drive away from cabarete. 
and after spending only a few hours there, i feel as if am a changed person. 
i've come into contact with poverty, with extreme suffering, with pain.
and sure, i've seen it a lot in films and on the news and in books. 
but never in my life have i come into contact with it in such a manner, 
spent time with an entire community living in such dire circumstances.

historically, the bateys of cuba and the dominican republic are sugar-cane-centered communities that house many immigrants from haiti who come to harvest every year. 
well, the sugar cane factory in caraballo has been shut down for a decade,
so this very remote community has virtually no source of income.
it is filled with a combination of haitians and dominicans,
and it is suffering immensely. 

one-roomed shacks made out of scrap metal serve as houses.
trash is everywhere. 
pigs, horses, goats, chickens run around with barely-clothed children. 
remains of once-successful humanitarian efforts litter the community. 
a single room serves as a bedroom, living room, and shop for a family of (soon-to-be) four. 

and it doesn't stop there. 
but though their living conditions are bleak, 
the people of this little batey are so, so kind.
and the children? where do i even begin...

i spent the afternoon sharing secrets with my new little amiga, 
playing soccer with the sweetest child on the planet, elso, and his buddies,
exchanging contact information with a group of the nicest teenage boys,
and filming the music class in DREAM's montessori preschool.


when i think about all of the inequalities out there,
the huge disparities between what i have been blessed with and what many in the world are lacking,
my heart physically aches.

thinking about my experiences today literally brings me to tears. 
but i am thankful for my experiences.
they have re-ignited my humanitarian flame
and will hopefully serve as a reminder of all i need to be constantly grateful for in my life.

i feel as if i can't really articulate what i'm trying to say in an eloquent manner,
so i'll stop writing before i get too ramble-y.
but if you're in an air-conditioned home reading this, with a full belly and clean clothes on your body,
please take a second to be grateful for what you have.


Bethany Petersen said...

Anna!! This is truly remarkable!

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