I’ve been in DR for two weeks. There are moments that it feels like I’ve been here for two years. There are moments that it feels more like two hours.
It’s amazing how much one person can learn in two weeks time. Life lessons that make you a better version of yourself.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned, thus far, came late last week.
We didn’t have access to the second Bateye that we wanted to teach in. You can’t just walk into a Bateye, talk to the people, see what they need, and then serve them. There are rules. There are guidelines. There are corporations.
Each Bateye has a promoter that seeks to connect the Bateye with the community and provide them with their basic necessities. The promoters live in the Bateyes, but usually in the nicest house at the main entrance. We know the promoters of the Bateyes where we work, but they do not have permission to give us permission when we ask for things.
It’s all quite complicated.
We kept reaching out to our different sources, making attempts to receive access, and failing. We scheduled a day trip to the department of education to ask for favor. Just before we went, though, we ran into the promoter at the hospital and talked with her for a bit. She suggested one last at-home effort before going to the education department.
She knew someone.
The next morning we picked her up and drove through some sugar fields to a little village. We got out of the car, walked between a few homes, and met with an elderly woman. She was in her nightgown and drinking a large glass of warm milk. She was as delicate and fragile as she was commanding and assertive. Everyone knew that she was in charge.
We spoke for well over an hour. The conversation was in Spanish, so I followed as closely as I could. There are times, though, that you don’t have to be fluent in the native language to understand the situation.
She was approving our program. She was supportive. She was behind us.
And that was it. That was all we needed. I still don’t know her name or why she mattered or what her role with our Bateye is, but I know she liked us and wanted us to be allowed to teach.
We started yesterday. The kids stormed the school to try to get in. We had to guard the doors and stand at the window to keep order. It was incredible. Yet, it didn’t come through an email or a trip to the government. It came just as it was supposed to come. It felt like a version of social networking, without technology or phones or facebook or twitter. It came through warm milk and an hour in the sun, through faces, through people, through relationships.