Leave Things Better Than You Find Them

“I grew up poor, just like you,” explains Albert Pujols. “No matter how successful you may become in baseball or in life, you can never forget where you came from. Never be ashamed of being poor; never forget that Batey Aleman is your home. You will always have a responsibility to your God, your family and your home.”

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United by Baseball, United Through Christ

I found out today that the word “batey” is Creole for a shanty town. I find it hard to imagine feeling good about wearing the word “batey” on a uniform. I would have difficulty feeling a sense of belonging with that polarizing label sewn across my chest.

For these kids, that does not matter. Where they come from is more than a degrading label. Where they come from is their family, their friends and their God, who does not distinguish between Batey Aleman and Beverly Hills.

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Bringing Baseball to the Batey

A batey (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 or any means of support.

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Chiropractors With Compassion

The hard work of Chiropractors With Compassion has helped transform the community of Batey Angelina from a place many wanted to leave behind into a model community in the Dominican Republic.

With a network of nearly 100 doctors of chiropractic throughout Canada and the United States, committed to donating U.S. $20.00 for every new patient that comes into their clinic, Chiropractors With Compassion have been able to raise around $1.2 million dollars since their founding in 2004.

By partnering with Compassion Canada, they have funded a number of major projects around the world and Batey Angelina is one of these.

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The Piñata Maker

the pinata maker The community of Montelimar is south of San Salvador, near a town named Olocuilta. The road near Montelimar, which leads to the airport, takes you past a scene that appears desolate. Even though the community has brick houses, electricity and potable water, the desolation of the surroundings and the distance from every other community make it feel almost like a batey or a slum.

The community holds about 2,500 homes, with an average of five people per home, according to the last census Rosario’s church conducted. (Rosario is a Compassion-assisted child in this community.) Most of the families rent space as they cannot afford to pay between $8,000 and $10,000 for a home. Most of them work at factories called maquilas, earning the minimum salary — about $170 per month.

Rent goes between $40 and $50, depending on the condition of the home. For some families, who earn their income as street vendors or have large families, their income barely covers the basic staples, and their option is to inhabit an unoccupied home, with the risk that someday an owner will appear and kick them out.

Sometimes a house will suddenly be empty. The reason lays in the comunity’s biggest problem — gangs.

In poor communities like Montelimar, gangs are a constant threat. Nobody comes in or out without them noticing. In fact, the commercial activity in the community has gone down, and small businesses such as pupuserias (little and simple dining places where they sell a local dish called pupusas) or convenience and staples stores are gone because the gangs ask them for “rent,” which means business owners have to pay a weekly amount of hundreds of dollars to receive “protection.” Otherwise, the gangs will do as they wish with the store and the owners.

In Rosario’s case, her family rents and her father, who sells sandwiches on a little cart on the streets of San Salvador and earns the minimum salary, supports the family.

Rosario is a quiet 12-year-old girl, very shy and organized. She is the oldest of four siblings. Even though she is very quiet, Rosario has many friends at school and at the child development center she attends.

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At the Batey

The situation on the batey is as hard as the dirt ground, but there are a few shards of hope gleaming out of it.

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