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Bringing Baseball to the Batey

Communications is my profession and expertise, but blogging, well, that’s something I am hoping to figure out (partially) over the next week with as little pain as possible. My name is Katherine Redmond (affectionately, Katalina or Kata in Latin American countries) and I am the Communications Director for Compassion U.S.

I’m heading to the Dominican Republic (DR) today with the Pujols Family Foundation. We’re going to Batey Aleman, and we’ll be there through July 29.

A batey [3] (buh-TAY) is a sugar plantation in the Dominican that mostly uses the labor of Haitians. Most bateys are defunct, but in some case the Haitians have been permitted to stay on the land, living in slums with little clean water [4] or any means of support.

Batey Aleman is located in southeastern Dominican Republic in a rural area. This batey as well as others are fairly desolate, dusty and isolated with little to offer those who live in it, even though the image many of us probably have of the Caribbean is lush, green and tropical.

The sun is scorching and few trees exist for shade on the batey. Surrounding the community are brown, dilapidated sugar fields and a dump that families sift through. It’s a few miles from the main highway, and it seems like an eternity to the next town.

One thing this batey has is a baseball field. On a previous visit to the Dominican with the Pujols Family Foundation last March, we scouted the field and figured out some areas of improvement that we hoped the community would help us address so we can get the children involved in a baseball program. Baseball is “the” sport in the country.

The community rallied around the idea, and pitched in to help clean up the baseball field. What an awesome display of love for the kids to see — parents and community participating together to support the children in this way. It sends a beautiful message of the importance of these children to the community. A message many of them don’t normally hear in their own homes.

This league we’re creating, however, will be about more than giving kids a way to get exercise, and it is certainly not being created to find the next Albert Pujols. This batey baseball league will be used to engage the children, to help keep them in our sponsorship program, and to teach these future Dominican men character, values, responsibility and leadership.

I hope you’ll join me and the Pujols Family Foundation on this journey of faith, hope and love as we start batey baseball in Batey Aleman. I’ll be blogging for the duration of the trip as well updating Twitter [5] and Facebook [6].