“Alone, human beings can feel hunger. Alone, we can feel cold. Alone, we can feel pain. To feel poor, however, is something we do only in comparison to others.” – Eric Greitens

Question of the Day: What are the root causes of the poverty that you saw today? What is needed to break the cycle of poverty?

Hello, my name is Erica Rosslee (she/her), and today I led our group in learning about poverty. We all went to a local dump here in Jarabacoa and talked to a worker or buzo named Ramon. It was a pretty difficult experience to hear some of his answers to our questions and witness the scene across the landfill. Afterwards, we had a discussion at the hostel about poverty and its causes, which was followed by lunch and a local hike to decompress. Following that activity, we worked on the next stage of our Community Action Project where we planned and designed the school garden, fence, compost bin, and wall art for our presentation tomorrow.

At the dump, we learned that the workers have no protection from the government here and if they get sick or injured, they have to stop working and can’t afford to go to the hospital unless they borrow money. In addition, these workers have to endure long hours for unfair pay but only do so because they believe they have no other way to survive. In our reflection, we discussed the similarities between poverty in the U.S. and the D.R., and we heard some of the experiences glimpsers have had with it. We all agreed that education is the best way to escape the cycle of poverty and that we will return home with much more appreciation for the things that we have.

I felt surprised as I was not sure how to feel when we went to the dump since it was such a different experience than I am used to. I also felt a little helpless for the workers once I was able to process some of my emotions. The government and the companies that they sell their findings to don’t treat them fairly, and they’re just isn’t much they can do. Ramon’s answer to the question, “What makes you most happy?”, being, “A good meal,” struck me deeply as well. The way in which he said it felt so different than the way someone well-off would say it, and it really hit me differently than anything else in the day.

I am most proud of being able to get the group to calm down and get quiet for breakfast by placing my thumb on the table and waiting for them to do the same and stop talking (a technique Brendan taught me). Nothing like that has ever worked for me, and it showed me that there are different ways of leading than by just your voice. Being a leader today was harder for me than I expected. I had a tough time getting people to listen, but I also learned that there are different leadership styles for different times. You don’t always have to yell to get someone’s attention. The most inspiring moment I had was the talk I had with Bridgett about my feelings from the day because I was able to process my emotions. I realized that it’s okay if something doesn’t work out great the first time; it can be a learning experience and an opportunity to try something new. I was also told that the best leaders are vulnerable and that people will respect you more when you show them other, more vulnerable sides to your personality.

I felt courage today at the nightly meeting when I was able to be vulnerable to the group about my emotions from the day, and they received it really well, showing me much compassion. We all showed commitment in our discussion about poverty, and camaraderie in our ability to take what each other said to heart.

I’d like to give BIG LOVE to Bridget for talking through things with me both at dinner and while writing this post. To Liss and Lani for checking up on me during the day, and to all my other fellow glimpsers for the fun games we’ve played and conversations we’ve had. I’d also like to give big love to my mom, dad, brother, grandparents, friends, and aunt for always being there, and of course to my cat who probably doesn’t even know I’m gone.

Now,┬áit’s time to pass the torch to Moises and MagdaElena, our LDDs for tomorrow.