I’m still hooked on this “change one life at a time” thing. Three blogs is enough, I’ll stop after today. But I would like to share one of my memories with you, so journey with me to the northern mountains of the Dominican Republic.
It was Day Three of constructing a community center and running an educational summer camp in the community of El Mango, RD (Republica Dominicana). Our group was split in half, seven running the children’s camp, and seven working at the construction site. The half who were working with the children were generally less tired than the others at the end of the day, so some of the workers from that group decided to take a walk though the community after dinner. When they returned to the monastery (where we were staying), they told us that they had encountered an elderly woman who was injured and asked for assistance. Their plan was to tell the people who were in charge of our group about the woman, and hope that the leaders would use their first aid training to help her.
A few days went by, and no one left to help the woman. A week went by, and no one acted. Before I knew it, there were two days left before I was to return to the United States, and I was not about to let this woman sit in her house with a festering wound, when she could likely die from the infection. It was Day 13 on project, and I had a new mission. I finished my day at the construction site, and we got on our bus to head back to the monastery. As we rode back, I asked our leaders if I could take the initiative to go and help the woman. I was granted permission to go on this journey.
When we got back to the monastery, I changed out of my cement soaked clothing, grabbed a few of my group members who were also first aid certified, pushed all thoughts of exhaustion from my mind, and set out to find the woman. We walked in the heat and humidity for about 20 minutes before we found the place where she was living. I knew nothing about this woman or her injury, but I knew if I had a humble heart, I could quickly learn this information. She knew why we were there the minute we arrived in her door frame. We hardly had to knock before she graciously welcomed the other girls and I into her home. When she sat down and lifted her pant leg, I saw that the injury was more than just a scrape. The woman had a cinder block dropped on her shin earlier that year, and it had healed with an infection which had caused her skin to turn white. Earlier that same week, she had another injury where a sharp object had punctured the old wound, and the leg was now a complete mess. She told me she was in pain all the time, and had a hard time walking.
In the US, I would recommend a doctor to treat this, but the nearest hospital was MILES away and the woman did not have any means of transportation, not to mention the fact that she could not afford a doctor’s visit. Knowing this, I put on my gloves, opened my first aid kit, and did the best I could to prevent further infection. When we were about to leave, I no longer saw a need to keep my first aid kit, and left everything with the woman and her husband. She was so grateful for the help she received, and thanked us endlessly for taking the time out of our lives to see her pain.
We left the house with empty pockets, and full hearts. We may have saved a life that August evening. Upon returning to the monastery from the work day that afternoon, I could have gone to the kitchen to fill my empty stomach, I could have taken a nap in the sleeping quarters after my 8 hour work day in the hot RD sun, I could taken the time to socialize with my group members who were all fellow college kids… and this woman could have been forgotten all together. But her life matters, as does every life on this planet. I was lucky enough to have been born into this life where I am blessed with so much. However, that does not mean I can ignore the children who are living across the world with dirt under their feet and tin over their heads, or the quiet Dominican woman with a simple, yet very dangerous injury.
All the Children.
By: Annie Freyschlag
I’ve seen their eyes.
Their tear encrusted eyes.
I’ve seen their scars.
Their blood stained scars.
I’ve heard their hearts.
Can you hear them?
Will you ever hear them?