On August 10th I began my trip to Santo Domingo. I was so excited to see Elian, my sponsored child who lives there with his brother, sister, and single mom. We have grown close through the many letters we have exchanged and the two other visits that we have so gratefully experienced.
His family has been through a lot of struggles. Both Elian and Yamileth, the little sister, have developmental delays and get sick easily. They live with their older brother William and their mom in a dangerous part of Santo Domingo. They were living with their grandmother, but she recently passed away. After the grandmother passed, the half brothers of Elian’s mom renewed their fight to get the house that the grandmother had left to Elian and his family. Their harassment has been especially hard on William, who at 13 years old has been taking on the responsibilities as the man of the house.
However, there is some good news for the family. With the help of the Compassion program in a local church, Elian is getting healthy meals, quick access to medical care, and the medicine that he needs. He also gets educational tutoring, Bible classes, and the one on one attention of caring Christian adults who can watch out for him and show him how much he is loved by God.
With the passing of his grandmother, and the impact that I knew that would have on his family, I was especially thankful to be able to visit them this trip. I was anxious to see them again, and I knew that Elian would be happy to see me as well. During my first visit I had been told that for two weeks before my visit Elian was telling everyone that his “madrina” was coming. He could not even sleep the night before.
So, This year I met my translator in Quito and once again took the stomach churning 3-hour bus ride through the mountains to arrive in the growing city of Santo Domingo.
The church pastor met us at the bus stop and we all hopped in a taxi and went to the church. It was good to see the familiar building come into sight.
The pastor had told us that Elian and his mom had to do a few last minute things, so they would be along soon. We went upstairs to the office/computer room and sat and enjoyed a few minutes together learning more about the project.
While we talked I kept looking over my shoulder to see if Elian was there. After a few minutes he walked in the door and came right over to me to give me a hug. He had grown a lot since I had last seen him.
We spent about an hour in the office visiting and catching up on all of the details of our years that don’t fit into letters. He has been doing well in his new school, but is still struggling with health problems. It was during that time as well that I learned more about the troubles that the family had been going through since their grandmother had passed away.
At noon Elian’s mom stepped out to pick up Yamileth from kindergarten and soon returned with her and William. I was so happy to see them. I had been concerned that William would have classes and not get to come.
We spent the day eating lunch at the local mall, sharing gifts back at the project, visiting Elian’s school, and visiting with the family in their house. It was a good day, but all too soon it was over, and we had to head out.
Although it was not always safe to have the camera out, we managed to get some photos: