The Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches, resorts and golf courses in the Caribbean but, quite purposely, none of these places show you how the Dominican people live. Tourism dollars rarely benefit the people who need it the most.
That’s where an organization called the Community Service Alliance or CSA makes a difference. It’s mission is to coordinate volunteers and study abroad groups with projects that help the local Dominican communities.
Yesterday, the University at Albany School of Public Health students helped transform a spot plot of land into a thriving vegetable garden for a Batay worker and his family. Batay is the word used to describe a class of extremely poor, uneducated, often immigrants but not always, peoples that work on the sugar plantations.
The family we were asked to help are a mother and father of 4 children that have been married for 19 years and both have medical issues.
The students, CSA providers and the family worked as one big team. All pitched in digging up the dry dirt with pitch forks and shovels. They carried heavy canisters of filthy water from the stream atop their heads. They helped assemble a water filter tanks and plant vegetables.
The sun along the equator zone is brutal so every hour everyone broke for water, more bug repellant and sunscreen.
After roughly four hours the task was complete and the Batay family wept with joy and gratitude. The students felt just as grateful to be a part of something so special.