We woke up this morning excited to get started on the projects and visit with the kids in the Bateyes that we met yesterday! When we arrived, the music was blaring and the people were smiling - the kids, however, were nowhere to be found (they were all at school). We got to work building a latrine for a family in the community.
The work was hard, but we made the most of it with lots of laughter and dancing as we worked. For every wheelbarrow of sand we pushed, there were at least five smiles shared. The people in the community continued to be so supportive as we worked, and even though we didn’t know their language, they still tried to learn about us and who we were!
When we finished the latrine at the end of the day, we watched the husband and wife who lived in the home share a hug in their yard and look proudly over their new latrine. Filled with proudness, we loaded the buses expecting to go back to Ascala and chow down on rice and beans. Instead, we took a slow and bumpy road into the middle of the sugarcane fields, where we each got the chance to chop down a sugar cane with a machete, like the workers do, and then eat the raw sugarcane! It was definitely an amazing experience, and it was especially awesome that I chopped down my sugarcane stalk with one swing of the machete!!
We ended our day with rice and beans, and (thankfully!) French fries the kitchen staff made for us, a little taste of home! We all had a meeting where the program leader Manuel explained the history of the Dominican Republic - it was so good to understand the context of the work we were doing. I finished my night learning a new card game, Rook, and taking some time to reflect on our lives. We complain about so many things, but seeing these people with literally nothing makes me realize how much we take for granted and how, in the grand scheme of things, how ridiculous my problems are. For them to have all these problems, and still living so fully - playing music, blowing kisses, and giving hugs. The people in the Bateyes focus less on material things, and more on the love and smiles of the people around them - I encourage you to take a moment this Thanksgiving and strive for that!
-Anna Jung & Abby Burris