Yesterday, I made it into Batey Aleman, during a complete rainout. Tropical Depression Bonnie paid a visit and the rains haven’t ceased.
Right before going to the batey, I stopped at the Compassion Dominican Republic office and saw the 87 boxes of Rawlings and Nike equipment lining n entire wall three feet deep. I also learned quite a bit about Albert Pujols involvement in all the details of this league, including the discussions he had with Nike and Rawlings about what the team would look like.
I slept a little on the hour and a half ride to the batey after cracking jokes and wearing myself out. When I finally arrived at the muddy batey, I was greeted by a gorgeous but locked up baseball field. It’s fenced in so the animals won’t graze in the outfield.
Though the field looked professionally done, it wasn’t. It was cleaned up by members of the community who so desire to bring joy to the entire community. Can a baseball field do that? No. But people joined together to create something hopeful for the future of children who don’t believe they have a future, can bring more joy than any one of us can understand. It is about community, about fellowship, about faith and about others.
I walked down the street lined with animals, shanties, and children into the child development center where I began discussing how to create the teams and the goals of the league. Imagine my surprise when my sponsored child, Adrian, walked into the door and apprehensively walked to me to give me a hug. He then leaned against my legs for a time until I hoisted him on my lap and he cuddled up into me and fell asleep – oh, after some Smarties and lollipops!
Then, after quite a debate about how the teams should be divided, especially given the immense talent of many of these children, we sat down for an amazing lunch cooked by the center staff. The flavors of the Dominican are outstanding.
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After lunch we visited the income generation program implemented by a group called NEST, with the help of the Pujols Family Foundation. We watched women truly engaged in the art of sewing, with a woman who said that life is great because she is learning to sew now!
Next door is a beauty salon where the women are learning beauty techniques that will hopefully bring some income into their families as well. I am praying that this batey is about to undergo a supernatural transformation.
I left the batey wondering when the rain will stop and if it does, when the heat will start. Regardless of the conditions, my team is prepared to give the boys of this batey a reason for hope and a belief that they have a bright future ahead of them.