Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Batey Deux

Looking back, I don’t think that anything could have prepared my for my first trip to Batey Deux. There are one hundred or so families there, living in dirt-floored shacks cobbled together from scrap metal. There is no clinic, no pharmacy, and until recently, there was no source of clean water. Although Batey Deux is surrounded by commercially owned rice and banana fields, work is scarce, and when it is available, pays only 200 pesos (about five dollars) for a day’s worth of grueling physical labor. Most of the inhabitants have not, due to economic and time restrictions, been able to achieve even high school level education. These problems are terribly interwoven, creating an oppressive and smothering net of poverty that maintains a stranglehold on this community.
This was poverty on a level that I could never have imagined. After my first visit, I wondered how this could happen in a world where some people, including myself, enjoy so much plenty and affluence
             Needless to say, it has been difficult at times to stay optimistic in the face of such conditions, and it has also been difficult to face the reality of my role and the role of my fellow students in this situation. We cannot, in the four months that we have here, solve the problems of Batey Deux, nor those of the hundreds of thousands of impoverished communities in the world. We are in many ways very small and weak in comparison to the social structures that place people in poverty and keep them there.
            But what we can do now is bear witness. We can bear witness to the suffering, injustice, and social violence visited upon people no more deserving of these things than we. We can open our minds to be changed by what we experience here. We can carry this experience with us back to our own country, we can become advocates for justice and social change, and most importantly, we can nurture and develop our diverse talents at Creighton, only to bring them back to the places where they are needed most, like Batey Deux. I believe that change is possible, and that it must begin with individuals and the things that they witness in the world. As the American anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.


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