Today was “Deconstructing Poverty” day. We got to get a small taste of what some of the locals live like in the dump (El Vertedero) of Constanza. The gentleman who runs the dump has been there for 23 years. He lives with his family under a tent not far away from the rubbish. It was not only a shocking disbelief, but it was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Some of the kids of my delegation could not withstand the smell of the trash, the sight of the all of the wild animals, and especially the families living comfortably malnourished. There were potatoes on the ground, smoke in the air, and wild dogs. The dump actually has smoke rising from underneath the ground. The rubbish keeps burning all day and night. It is the most polluted air you could breathe. They don’t even wear gas masks because they are accustomed to the air. At the dump, everyone lives for themselves, so there is no sense of community or teamwork. One of the tour guides, Jonathan (22), moved to Constanza in order to buy land, but he did not have enough money and ended up living at the dump. Although he lives in bad circumstances, he still aspires to become a business owner. He also wants to learn English. It made me question, how could someone be so used to these living conditions? Although this seems like an extreme circumstance that in the Dominican Republic some children are not encouraged to go to school and some people are set with the fact that this is their life. Even though we are open to the idea of helping them they refuse to ask for help. We saw so much with our own eyes, it was also a really huge learning experience for all of us.

Our question of the day was, “What are the root causes of poverty that you saw today? What is needed to break the cycle of poverty?”

Considering everything that we witnessed today, the root causes of poverty are lack of education and the fact that they are comfortable in their situation.

Later today, we got another opportunity to teach our enthusiastic students how to speak English in our tutoring classes. We had a lot of fun with the students of all ages. Being on the other side of education is very beneficial. We understand the struggles of being a teacher. Patience is key, along with the love of helping others.

Zack and Keera