Friday, March 20, 2009

Ds in the DR





This is Maria. She lives in the Dominican Republic, and has Down syndrome, (Ds). She is 16. As soon as I spotted her out of the 50-60 kids that came to play with us the first Saturday we were there, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Every person with Down syndrome is a learning and heartwarming experience for me. Maria was no different. We couldn't speak the same language, but we played peek-a-boo and hide & seek. She was very flirty with me. Maybe I gave her far more attention than she is used to.

This is the community she lives in, referred to as "The Hole". Poverty, drugs, HIV/Aids, and sex are the norm in her neighborhood. Saying goodbye to her was hard on my heart. In the Dominican Republic, there is no Federal Early Intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and Susan Gray school. There are no food stamps, WIC, or unemployment compensation. It is a different world, to say the least.

Notice the garbage in her community and the hand constructed dwellings.

This is home.

4 comments:

rfbryant said...

Melissa,
I know you've seen some of the pictures my husband took in Haiti. What we've found is a group of about 125 children living in a shelter that is open on the sides. The "building" used to be a disco.

Our pastor wept as he shared the story about the peanuts and raisins. He doesn't usually do that. Jack told me that he was almost frantic when he realized that he didn't have enough to give every child a peanut and a raisin. They watched one older girl carefully cut one raisin into six pieces to share with smaller children.

Right now, these kids are getting one meal a day that consists of rice and beans and once in a great while, a tiny piece of meat. (Think about the "pork" that makes pork & beans what they are.)

Our church is working with others to try to get them a building with walls that no one can put them out of. The disco owner could put them out anytime. It's hard to see. It's difficult to imagine. As I said, one day I'll get my chance. Not sure if I can make it without crying, but when God says I can go... I'm outta here!

sarah in the woods said...

She's beautiful.

Sarah said...

Yes, she's beautiful. It's amazing the contrast between the young girl's beauty and the squalor of her surroundings. I've never seen so much trash in one place (besides the dump).

I'm glad you got to know this precious young woman.

Melissa Irwin said...

The dump, is a fair parallel. Although my understanding is that this place is far cleaner today than it was 5-6 years ago. A pastor has built a church and a feeding center in the hole, and slowly, there has been improvement. Baby steps and a purpose designed by God can be so healing!