The "batey" (in English)
Along those muddy roads, children played between trash and ramshackle walls. Some of these kids had no shoes, nor concerns about it. The heat was smothering: only the very few shades gave us a break in a place full of mixed feelings. I asked myself: how was that village called?
It was curious. Between that chaos, misery and lack of everything, adults were laughing and kids danced and dreamed (although we aren’t quite sure what they were dreaming of). It was the most unsuitable town for dreams, but these people were full of them.
The little ones gifted us smiles after simple gestures such as giving them a soda, a snack or carrying them on your shoulders. When the drink was finished, the bottle became their toy for the day: it turned into a football, a spaceship, a musical instrument…
Perhaps it was innocence, imagination, or maybe their not-yet developed awareness of reality what allowed them to fly their spaceships to very different places than that one. I wonder how they picture the world that is outside of that little village, or if they could do it.
Building houses for those families was the way to achieve children’s shout for joy, parent’s ray of hope, elders’ tears, an opportunity to keep on going and an everlasting smile for all of us.
But, after that wonderful experience, which wasn’t the solution to all the problems of those people but it sure helped a lot, I kept on asking myself… What was that place’s name? I only got to know it when we left.
This heartbreaking and bittersweet batey* in the middle of the Dominican Republic, so close and yet so far away from our world, had the most beautiful name you could think of: it was named Villa Esperanza (Hope Town).
*A “batey” (plural: “bateyes”) are little Caribbean villages that were created in the past by the side of sugar mills and still exist, living under tough conditions and severe poverty.
[Sorry for the broken English :-)]
A couple more pictures 👇🏽
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