Our neighbor down the road in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic is a 25 year old mother of a 4 year old diabetic son. Her mother died when she was 4 and basically raised herself. Through her eyes, I am getting a look at the health care system of what the impoverished community deals with in the DR. She has no job, as her son is often sick and she is the only one who can take care of him, which has, at times, involved several days in the hospital. No job means very limited income, she gets very limited child support from her son’s father, but it is not enough to sustain her son and his medical needs. This results in him not eating the foods he should be eating. He has been fed powdered milk his whole life and wants nothing else, in a bottle. As she lives with multiple relatives in a two room shack with a kitchen-cook room fired by a wood fire, there is little to go around and rice and beans is the staple, with no-nutrient puffy white bread. So when there is no milk which is often, the child eats high starch, which turns to sugar that exasperates his diabetic symptoms, resulting in her not being able to hold down a job. The viscous cycle of poverty.
We have taken the family on outings, bought food, given money when in need and spent hours at the hospital with the son and the grandmother, driven them to and from as they have no transportation. Observations include; everyone ~ no matter how deep the poverty, has a cell phone and somehow get’s minutes to make calls. The technology is used for selfies, games, music and idly passing time incessantly. The level of education is very low, mothers want daughters to provide grandchildren, not get an education. People in poverty here live from day to day and cannot see the future, hence make no plan for any future. We do not ever see any books, libraries and little drive to become more educated. Even if there was a drive for education, there is no money to support that desire. Our ability to communicate in Spanish is limited, so our understanding of their issues is tougher. Today, I spent 4 hours at the hospital in another city dealing with her 90 year old grandmother and the family, supplying meals, medicine and transport, trying to learn how this cycle of poverty can be broken. No family member has insurance and one medical bill is the difference of eating or not for the entire family.