Traveling with a purpose

Missionaries learn the value of serving

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Group of Dominican people communicate with American missionaries.

Natalie Dubovi, Staff Writer

Typically when people think about the Dominican Republic, they think about beautiful beaches and resorts; however, there is another side of the Dominican that people need to know about. It’s the plight of Haitians working in the Dominican sugarcane fields.

Most people working in the sugarcane fields are Haitian. The people in Haiti go to the Dominican hoping to find a job, but once they arrive, they realize that there aren’t many. Most people can’t get jobs because they’re illegally in the Dominican Republic.

In order to become a legal resident and get a job in the Dominican, a person must go through a long process. There are four documents one must get before becoming a permanent resident. The first three are temporary and cost $1000 each. The final card, which can be bought after five years, costs $600. The final document is the permanent residence card.

It’s very expensive and hard to become a legal resident in the Dominican Republic. This is why so many Haitians cross the border and stay illegally.

One of the only jobs for illegal aliens in the Dominican Republic is working in the sugarcane fields. Men and boys as young as thirteen go out from dawn to dusk with their machetes to chop sugarcane. They often times don’t make more than three or four dollars a day.

On average, it would cost $20 to feed a family of four a decent meal for a day. However, when a family is only making four dollars a day, they are unable to eat a meal. People often just chew on sugarcane, which has no nutritional value, just because they’re so hungry. Most of the people living in these villages have rotten teeth from just eating sugar every day.

Many people go to the Dominican Republic on vacations because of the quality beaches. However, there are also many people who go there to help the people who have nearly nothing.

Meeting God in Missions has facilitated short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic for twenty years. People of all ages can go help serve the needs of the less fortunate. Not only do these short-term missionaries set up medical, optical and dental clinics for free, they also get the opportunity to share God’s word with people who don’t get the chance to hear it.

From Jan. 13- 20, 2018,  St. John’s (Burry’s) Church sent a group of 11 people, including two Freedom students, to the Dominican Republic through Meeting God in Missions. These short-term missionaries went out to a different village each day to set up medical clinics, work on gardens, do construction projects, conduct Bible clubs for the kids and evangelize to the people. The goal is to meet the earthly needs of these people, as well as their spiritual needs.

The Americans that go to the Dominican as missionaries expect to make an impact on the lives of the people who live there, but they don’t realize how much they’ll be changed by the experience.

Everyone should find opportunities to help other people whether it’s in their community, across the country or around the world. When people serve others, they often receive more than they could ever give.