Paradise Amongst Poverty

By Patricia Stavropoulos

The dirt ground feels hard beneath my feet. The dust in the air clouds my eyes. I look around. Huts and old dilapidated half-houses encircle the makeshift dirt field I’m standing in. In this remote and poor village people go about their daily lives. A shady one-room school house stands off to the side. Children in blue and khaki uniforms with no shoes teach Spanish songs to visitors. A brave young man climbs up a two story palm tree to collect oversized coconuts. A solitary boy reads from an old textbook in the shade. Life goes on.

Dozens of children form a large circle. They sing and dance a sort of marry-go-round game and freeze. Bursts of laughter fill the air. Mothers clutching half naked babies point and smile. Enjoying the goodtime the children are having just as much as they are. While the sun shines brilliantly illuminating the fun. A young woman washes clothes by hand in a broken washing machine. The wind blows dirt on the clean clothes hanging beside her. She is laughing too.

It starts to rain. Thousands of heavy water droplets litter the ground. I feel my clothes start to stick to my body as everyone dashes for cover. Over hanging tin roofs become a new shelter. An escape from the tumultuous weather. Thick raindrops compose a new beat on the hard metal. Bodies black and white cling to each other for protection. Young students tie their uniform shirts around their heads to stay dry. A new game is invented. In the midst of poverty, happiness exists in the simplest of things. Life goes on.

Patricia traveled to the Dominican Republic on a high-school exposure trip in 2007

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