Greetings from Canada de las Palmas!
Today, us Glimpsers got a taste of how life looks like for 1.6 billion people living in a developing world. Yes, that means no running water, no electricity and no full tummies. Where do we start? We spent the day with a lovely rural community right outside of Constanza. In Canada de las Palmas, we were greeted by the president of the neighborhood association Jose Victoriano and his wife Amelia. Our group was divided between 7 host families including Nina, an elderly woman who has lived in the community for over 50 years and Justina, an exuberant woman working at a slaughter house. While helping with light housework, we were able to converse with the locals in order to get a greater understanding of what poverty truly feels like.
Sianna: My host family consisted of Nina, a 73 year old woman and her 15 grandchildren. While Nina often went without basic needs due to lack of funds to provide for both her and her family, she was one of the most welcoming and giving people I have ever met. She instantly received us into her home with open arms, we were greeted with not only hugs and kisses but coffee and sweets as well. She quickly became a motherly figure to all of us missing ours dearly, and explained that I especially resembled her daughter, who she has not seen in over 8 years. While being embraced by the lovely Nina, I felt an overwhelming feeling of both love and safety, I could not help but tear up every time. While spending the day with her, she led us through her garden of herbs which she uses to both cook and heal with. From her I learned that with a heart full of generosity and love, I will never live a day in need. As my life continues, a piece of my heart will remain with Nina and her lively family. Encanta a usted, vive con Dios, Nina.
Isabella: I was assigned Justina Victoriano and Fermin Victoriano who have been married for almost 40 years. She insisted that we were her hijos (children). She made us feel at home, every second we spent with her felt like we were with our own families. Though this entire community is living in poverty they were always willing to give us anything we needed. She insisted that we were her family and should feel comfortable enough to sleep in her home, eat her food, and embrace. We conversed over multiple cups of coffee. As we asked her questions about life for her and her family she happily shared with us anything we wanted to know. She shared with us her views on immigration, discrimination, and racism in the Dominican Republic. Justina and the community live under two dollars a day, yet she has never been sad a day in her life. She often goes with out clean drinking water, a flushing toilet, regular electricity or an insulated house. She cheerfully gave us the entire tour of the neighborhood from the top of the mountain to the community center. Along the way, we stopped at all of her friends houses. Everyone, though we didn’t have the time, invited us in for coffees and conversation. This day has opened all of our eyes to how much we really have compared to this community. In the US we complain about so much, myself included, when we have all of our basic needs and then some. They have so little but still manage to have a smilie on their faces.
Be happy always, Justina.
We miss and love you all. Happy Belated Father’s Day! See you in 6 days.
Sianna and Isabella