September 6, 2012
Being down here in the Dominican Republic, witnessing many injustices and social issues that seem unfair and unrealistic, and trying to find hope and joy in just being in the moment is very challenging for me. I am blessed to have Comunidad Catorce (Community 14, that’s the group of us down here) to lean on for support and help in processing all of this, but there is still so much more that needs to be thought about and surfaced. Most of the things that I’ve seen have just been the tip of the iceberg. And with that being said, I am constantly asking myself how there could possibly be more beneath what I am seeing. It’s really hard to comprehend that what I am doing down here is not changing things for everyone at once, or that it will even change things for the long run. Right now I’ve witnessed a lot of programs or projects that serve as a mere temporary fix for the problem, something that will only benefit the people short term. Yes, that is great for the time being, but what about the future? Shouldn’t we be working towards a better future for all, even the next generation so they don’t have to continue the cycle of the “in the moment fix?”
Being at my service site of Caritas I’ve thought about this a lot. About how the program is just a temporary fix for the hungry children who need a place to stay before school starts, or a place to learn a little more about values and education. My role is to be that support for them: to teach them a bit of English and Spanish to help further the education they don’t get enough of in the classroom, to teach them life values and morals, and to be their friend. I want to be more for them though. I want to be that person that inspires them to want to break the poverty cycle through their education—the only way down here that you can break the cycle. I want to show them how to live a dignified life and how to care for others through love and service. But I am struggling a lot with this. Being at Caritas breaks my heart. It shows me the imperfections of this world and how unfair it is that a poverty cycle continues due to lack of education which brings forth desire and opportunity to do something more with life. It is very easy for me to get frustrated and want to blame someone for these conditions and injustices I’m witnessing down here, but what’s keeping me together is prayer. In The Mountain of Silence, Father Maximos believes that “when people pray sincerely, from the heart, for the good of others, the Almighty always responds in one form or another.” It’s hard to pray because at times I feel hopeless and that God’s justice for these people isn’t right. But Father Maximos goes on to say that ”God’s justice works in mysterious ways, beyond the reach of our intellects.” So for now all I can do is pray. I put my trust in the Lord with my service at Caritas in hopes that I am making a difference in these children’s lives, even if it is just for a temporary fix to the problem. At least I know that through my service I will be a part of something greater than myself that could hopefully one day break the poverty cycle for one child, if not many more.