Children of the Batey

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"Sugar is more than just a sweetener for the children in the bateyes of the Dominican Republic. For these children of sugar cane cutters, sugar is the reason they can survive. But it is also sugar that keeps them in their impoverished condition. In the batey where the sugar cane cutters and their families live, the children run around in the midst of tiny shacks and garbage heaps, exposed to malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Along with native Dominicans, Haitian migrants and their children make up most of the batey’s population. Their children have difficulties obtaining proper education, health care and other basic human rights because by law, they are not considered citizens of the Dominican Republic.
St. Peter’s Parish in Woodbridge, Ontario, responded to the needs of these children by organizing a week-long summer camp in the bateyes. A group of 37 people brought books, clothes and other donated goods. They also played games and other activities with the children. The Canadians accepted that they could not change the reality of the Dominican Republic, but they could impact one life. And a beautiful exchange happened! They become the hands and feet of Christ for the children, and in the process allowed the faith and joy of the children to touch their hearts! One of the Canadians, a six year-old boy named Christian, went right to the heart of everybody’s experience in exclaiming: “Blessed are the poor, and blessed are you who help the poor.” "


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