bridges to bateys
Since 1983 Fairmount has sent over 300 different people to La Romana in the Dominican Republic.
We have been engaged in ministry in the Dominican Republic for 30 years working primarily through El Hospital General El Buen Samaritano. With leaders in the local Haitian community and churches across the USA we have built a regionally significant hospital, provided medical care, and built schools, homes and latrines in various bateys in the La Romana region.
In 2014 the Session of our church decided to create a 25 year partnership with Batey 105.
We continue to return to the DR and, in particular, to Batey 105 because of the relationship the youth helped initiate with the Haitian immigrants who live there. These relationships have helped us to see the vast need experienced by our brothers and sisters and their desire to make life better for themselves. Through the lens of their lives we have witnessed systemic injustice which is growing more common in the DR and throughout the world. In other words they have helped us to become more aware of injustice and how it impacts the lives of our brothers and sisters, how it impacts our lives and how we participate in the systems that create injustice.
Our Dominican brothers and sisters struggle with access to healthcare, nutrition, sanitation and basic human rights. According to the US State Department, the Dominican Republic has the largest economy in Central America or the Caribbean, and it is growing. Yet somewhere between 31% and 42% of the population lives in poverty. There’s a lot of opportunity in the country, but it’s not available to everyone equally because of racial and political unrest. There is historic distrust experienced between Dominicans and Haitians - the people we’re working with are mostly Haitian immigrants, many of them migrant workers who are the primary source of labor for the sugarcane fields.
Between the huge wealth gap and legal issues surrounding immigration, the residents of the bateys have limited educational opportunities, access to health care or social services, and generally only one job option—one which is physically demanding and pays very little. In peak season, someone cutting cane may work over 70 hours in a week, for the equivalent of about $25.
As we seek ways to “Empower God’s Children” we feel we have found great partners with whom to share ministry.
Partnering NOT Adopting
There are many organizations that encourage people to adopt a child, to send money each month to help buy food, clothes and other basic supplies the child needs. There are many such organizations working in the DR; this is even language you might hear from the Good Samaritan Hospital where churches adopt a batey and transform their living situation. Many amazing and wonderful things can happen through this model of ministry; this was how our call to expand our ministry in DR actually began.
As we took this call more seriously though our ideas for ministry were shaping up differently. We desire our ministry in the DR to be marked by mutuality, solidarity, and servanthood in the name of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World. with this in mind we believe that:
God sends us into the world.
God’s mission is always done in partnership with God and one another.
we must cross barriers and boundaries of different kinds as we engage in mission.
These principals require more of us than just sending money, this kind of engagement requires us to be open to the transformation that will take place in the DR as well as in our lives and our culture through the presence of Christ at work in the heart of this growing relationship.
Our work in the DR will focus on 4 areas:
Relationship building and Faith Sharing
Improving life in the Batey
Improving Social and Economic Mobility