Today we returned to Iglesia Comunitaria Cristiana to see and hear about their school program and to help serve lunch to those that live on the street. It was another wow day. Unbelievable what this small church does and to hear the testimonies. They are making a difference in this country, even gaining some influence in the national government.
In Dominican Republic, like other South American countries, children with disabilities are not provided educational services, and the poor are provided poor education. We learned that even the wealthy cannot get a school education for their handicapped children. They can only teach them at home, and then the children are still bullied. If a poor child is disabled, they are subjected to ridicule and abuse and have no opportunity for education. But not at this school; they are providing education to the disabled and the poor, alongside students from wealthy families. They are an accredited private school that subsidizes the poor, and charges a fraction of the cost of other private schools with the quality of schools at four times the cost. The passion they have for educating all of God’s children is as big as any you can imagine. The school is housed in a converted house, and they are full at 94 students. The church has purchased another property a couple of buildings down the block where they will tear down the current structure and build a new school that will eventually serve up to 290 students. This building is currently empty, but the plastic bottles mentioned in an earlier blog are at this location in preparation for the garden project.
Prior to our lunch, we helped serve lunch to the men who live on the streets. Two young men who are now in rehab and previously homeless shared how this meal was the one thing they could count on when they were on the streets, both for about 8 years starting at around age 11. Prior to serving lunch, our own Jeff Reed spoke to the men in Spanish.
In their ministry to men who live on the street, we heard fantastic testimony of a man who was once on the street and considered to be “psycho”, was addicted to drugs, and even ran around the streets naked. Seeing him now, you would not begin to believe he was ever that way. He now runs a drug rehabilitation program and has a daughter at the school. We had the joy of having him join us for lunch today with his daughter.
We did spend the rest of the afternoon visiting some well known caves and then some downtime. This evening we are preparing for our next couple of days, which will include crafts, skits and more when we return to Vision Celestial.
Please pray for the school, the wonderful staff and beautiful children, and pray for the men who live difficult and sad lives on the streets.
Today, Jeff Reed has also written a poem to express his experience on this trip.
The Brave Side of Wild
To the leaders of the Red Del Camino, Dominican Republic
The saints here are lightning, adazzle with faith,
despite the long drudgery, despite the odds,
despite dark clouds large over Pico Duarte,
mud-puddles gathering at the base of the columns,
sun breaking through like the fluttering of pages
of an old Bible open on the sill of a window
insistent as shrill horns in afternoon traffic,
adamant that God is still making a way,
despite the delay between now and when,
unimpressed with yesterday—
how long it has been, how far they have come—
unimpressed with the obstacles:
the heavy red soil, turn-over of teachers,
paucity of options, the high cost of flour,
without much money, without any power,
with no room left for the Asperger child—
this company rises to the brave side of wild,
singing now (how they sing as they crawl!),
all their eyes bright and sparking with fire
as they leave bits of skin behind on the barbed wire.