August 2014: Inequality & Development: A Snapshot

Dear Friends,Cheryltalk 7.14-001

A new Subway restaurant and some very bad (30hr/wk) power outages have forced us to reflect yet again on inequality and development in our DR context. The necessity of Gospel actions of mercy & justice easily comes to mind.

We’ve seen many small signs of the DR’s rising development status during our over 3 years here. A few public schools in the capital (Santo Domingo) now offer full vs. half school days. A 911 emergency response system was initiated this month, only in Santo Domingo for now. “Luxury” food items like nut butters, a variety of frozen vegetables and some organic items have shown up in the large supermarkets, and a highway circumventing Santiago is complete after over 20 years of intermittent construction. For those who can afford the toll road, grocery treats, and private hospitals, life is getting a bit more convenient and perhaps even safer.

We too have enjoyed the food diversity and would really appreciate having a working number to call in case of a fire or medical emergency. Yet we can clearly see why the DR drops to “low” development status when inequality across the population is taken into account. While finding my favorite candy bar is a treat, it’s confusing to then come home

DR style Protest: With permission:

to undrinkable tap water and no electricity for 7 hours. Every few months our neighbors 2 blocks in one direction or the other burn tires to protest bad roads or lack of lights in our otherwise relatively “average” looking neighborhood.  A look beneath the front that private funds provides in some neighborhoods helps explain vast discrepancies within our city of 600,000 people. For the many who can’t afford a water storage tank on the roof, water may only arrive to a home 1-2xs a week. This is the reality for many in our church, from Perla, a dental student, to Nego, caregiver of two with disabilities herself. Pause and think for a second just how much extra work that is, storing water in old soybean oil jugs to flush the toilet and do the laundry, dishes, shower…. ! Where might you rather spend your time?

Internet, with its vast potential to improve education across the globe, costs $60/mo for 3 megabits (no guarantees!), and of course, one must have electricity to access it. This has been difficult for us this week with ministry deadlines looming and electricity at an all time low.

We are happy & hopeful for signs of development in the DR. Yet we still need your continued mindfulness and prayers that we would learn to desire what we want for ourselves for our neighbors too- then have enough wisdom to act on that love individually and corporately, nationally and internationally.

We are often at a loss to understand the best ways to engage as Christ would with these inequalities. One thing we feel confident about is the role we can play in education. We Cheryl talk2 7.14-001have good news this month. The deans at PUCMM University gave final approval for the new physical therapy curriculum that we have worked on with faculty for the past 2 years!  Thanks be to God!  Thankfully, the areas where we perceive the greatest deficits in professor knowledge don’t come around in the curriculum for 2 years, so there is time to build knowledge. This will continue to be a main focus of our ministry time, which includes facilitating others’ educational support for this project.

July’s weekend course provided by a US PT professor friend was well received. As we hoped, Dr. Caldwell was able to reveal areas that the faculty “didn’t know they didn’t know,” and inspired us al towards excellence in analyzing and treating biomechanical dysfunctions that are often at the root of pain and disability. Besides encouraging better quality health care, we hope that providing more opportunities for professional growth in the DR will support professionals to remain in the country vs. leaving for higher pay elsewhere.

Screens & Chicunguya Update                                                                               We’re grateful for a gift from our sending church community that put screens up on our house! We feel a notable sense of stress relief. Laurie has given up the continuous sidestepping dance she does to keep the mosquitoes off while cooking, and it reduces the plaguing need to zap them with this funny mosquito tennis racquet we have while working at our desks or playing with Daniel. Thanks for your thoughtfulness that helps us be healthy!

Chicunguya is still making her rounds. Perhaps 20% of our church has contracted this mosquito born virus, including the pastor. Some believe that it is really not spread by mosquitoes, which of course, makes it more difficult to combat. Pray for receptive moments when we can educate our friends without harming our relationships.

The Family Front                                                              
Daniel is 4.5 months old now, and we’re enjoying his oohs, ahhs and smiles. He is slowlyFamily photo 7.14-001 getting used to the expressiveness of the Dominican culture. Think about the voice level you might use to get people’s attention if you spotted a Fire!, and that is often the level of excited expression Daniel is approached with when someone wants to hold him at church. He now enjoys up to ~5 people after church before he cries, so we’re doing well!  Thanks for sharing in our lives with us, as we enjoy hearing from you too!  Peace to you,

                                 Nick, Laurie & Daniel

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