This was my first trip to the Dominican Republic, or any Caribbean island, so I had no clue what to expect. On top of that, I was assigned to the medical team. I was nervous because even though I am a Health Science Studies major, I really don’t know much about medicine. These people are in some of the most desperate conditions imaginable and I wanted to make sure I could provide them with the best care possible. On day one, my worries disappeared. The medical team met as a whole for the first time and I instantly felt comfortable with everyone around me. I knew that we had a great group of people who genuinely cared about the people from the bateyes.
At our first medical clinic in Batey 50, I walked off the bus and was amazed. I had seen it in pictures before but they did not do the beautiful countryside justice. The rolling hills leading up to the batey were incredible. While looking around, I thought to myself ‘Maybe life in a batey isn’t that bad.’ The houses looked sturdy and everyone seemed to enjoy each other’s company. However, I quickly learned that I was mistaken. While travelling to other bateyes and barrios around La Romana, I discovered that Batey 50 was a very unique case. Houses in other areas are made of rusty pieces of metal and tarps with holes in them. These sugarcane villages were the definition of squalor. It was then that I realized how much work the DR Mission Team had done and all the good that was provided to the people of Batey 50.
Although the conditions were poor, the spirits of the people in the bateyes were not. These people were some of the most genuinely happy people I have ever met. They all had smiles on their faces when we pulled up in our little, yellow school bus. The children would run up and hug us even though we were complete strangers and they would never get frustrated if we did not speak the same language. They enjoyed just being in our company and that was so refreshing. The people of the bateyes didn’t have the latest technology or the trendiest clothes, but they had each other and that’s all that matters. I am extremely grateful for this experience and for the chance to help not only the sick people in the bateyes, but also myself. I learned to not sweat the small stuff and to not take so much in my life for granted. I will never forget this week or the people I’ve met because of it.