Rode Hard And Put Away Wet

my God, where do these days go?

Friday, July 15, 2005

This is Part III of my Dominican Republic journal. I traveled there for five days.

There are few experiences that all Americans have in common; few things for which one or two words will evoke a common memory. For instance, if I were to say “wardrobe malfunction,” every single person in America would know exactly what I was talking about. Another such shared experience is this one: “Sally Struthers.” Now, does everyone have the same image in his or her mind? Little Ethiopian boys and girls, flies, tears, “for the price of a cup of coffee a day”…. Everybody on the same page? Good.

After Peralta, we few, we proud, we band of gringos traveled to a town called Bani, and a suburb called Santa Rosa. Remember Sally Struthers? That was Santa Rosa. Houses made of concrete with corrugated tin roofs. Children bathing in the same water that women were cleaning their mops in. Filth and dirt as a way of life.

In the below picture, can you see the concrete trough running through the center of the street (the man in the white shirt and blue jeans is sitting on the edge)? That trough carries the neighborhood’s water. Water for bathing, cleaning, etc. comes through there. (By the way, that’s me with the video camera, if you didn’t know).

In this place, we met a man in a Hawaiian shirt. His name is Esdras Kelly. Esdras felt the call of his God to create a church in the dirtiest place in the world. A large part of Esdras’ ministry is a youth center with a basketball court, a small gym, and a library where the kids can do homework. The gym charges 10 pesos (about 50 cents) a day.

Santa Rosa is infested with dirt, disease, and drugs. But, among the infestation, there is a glimmer of hope. It’s not quite shining through the darkness yet, but it’s starting to. People, the lowest of the low, who would have otherwise never understood their worth as a being created in the image of God, are beginning to see that they carry a spark of the divine inside themselves.

Esdras works for a couple of thousand dollars a year.


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