Often we look at people and we think, “I wonder what it is like to be in their shoes?” This question, and many others related to this, has passed through my head since being here in the Dominican Republic. Coming from a life where poverty is hidden, and life is dependent on materialistic items, the site of poverty and its extremes that are exposed here in the DR really intrigue me. The reason is because I wonder what life is like for these people.
Today, the interns and staff had the opportunity to go into the homes of select families in Arroyo Seco which answered many questions. I was lucky enough to be paired with Katelynn, my amazing friend and fellow intern. We were matched with Francisco’s family which was super exciting for me. While we were there we got some milk, washed laundry, helped cook lunch, washed dishes etc. This sounds easy and completely usual right? Well, it was far from a regular day at my home doing all of these things. This morning getting milk meant milking a cow (the children did this not us) and boiling it on the stove. Washing laundry was completely by hand, in a wash tub and hanging it on the fence to dry. Washing dishes happened in a bowl on the counter. This was more complex for Katelynn and I, but I know I enjoyed it so much! The family was very accepting and patient (even when I nearly burned the place down). They made harmless jokes at our mistakes which allowed us to bond. One of the things I noticed about this family is that they conserve everything as much as possible. There is absolutely no wasting anything. The amount of laundry detergent they use is not even half the amount I use at home for the same amount of laundry, and it still cleans the clothes.
There is never any need for wasting anything. Despite the change for both Katelynn and I, we fit in perfectly fine! It was such an eye opening experience which I would love to do more often. It makes it much more personable when you know how a family lives because you have lived it with them. I know it was only a short experience, so there is still much more to learn. Maybe one day we can go back to the family a do an entire day experience with them! We closed the day with a movie in La Union. The kids loved it! It took a little while, but I became accustom to the Spanish movie with English subtitles.