TO OBSERVE, TO REFLECT, TO GIVE, TO GROW
The idea of going to the mission was born as a concern for getting into disadvantaged and unknown realities to me, which are present in many countries around the world. This call started developing little by little and constantly through the experiences I’ve lived throughout my life. In this process -and along with the formation I received during a year in Madrid- I considered it was necessary to get out of my comfort zone and leave my amenities, my family, my work and my friends aside, and to go into Sabana Perdida in The Dominican Republic, the place where I was assigned to for six months.
From day one I’ve been watching and listening in the mission, because it is important to me to learn and to know people, their traditions, their dreams and their struggles. The reception was incredible since day one. The first afternoon after my arrival I knew the reality of Seibo’s peasants. People who had been expelled from their land a year and a half ago with no reasons. They keep their hope to come back to their land, their home, despite the rights’ violation that they have suffered.
Something I find key in the mission is to be conscious everyday about my role in this situation. This allowed me to understand why I had to support Seibo’s peasants in their pacific march towards the presidential office, and how a long conversation with them, singing, or simply playing cards and accompany them during their struggle is what people need when they have been snatched from their home, their families, and everything they have lived and worked for during their whole life. However, despite all they have faced in their lives, they always greet me with a hug, a smile and signs of gratitude while we shared our food or perform other activities.
Another reality that is present my experience every day is La Zurza’s situation, a neighborhood that has a frenetic market where people work without resting to survive themselves and their children. In this context is located the school ‘Solher’ “Solidaridad entre hermanos,” (“Solidarity among brothers” in English), from which I’m part of. It was founded by the Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary. It is a very small school where children up to 8- or 9-years old attend to. The only separation between classrooms is a curtain. Teachers and the Dominican Sisters make efforts daily to guarantee the right of education for children who arrive to the school without knowing how to read and come from dysfunctional families. This action improves their families’ relationships.
Mi role in the school is to teach arts in primary school, after-school tutoring, and family pray. This experience has been a revelation since I was able to meet children that -despite the life conditions they face since they are babies- are able to keep on smiling, enjoying, learning and giving you all their love, asking nothing in exchange but to be with them and pay attention to them.
During this month and a half here, I have realized about everything that I’m learning from the people that surround me, from sharing with them Sunday’s mass at San Martin de Porres parish, from visiting sick people, from the food I eat, dinners in our community or conversations about existent inequalities among countries from this part of the world in terms of education, health, corruption, security, and justice.
An essential part of this mission’s experience is coexistence in community with the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary. It’s been a great discovering and learning process to share breakfast, housework, prayers, candies and long conversations about everything that happens every day in the mission. These activities allow me to integrate everything that is occurring around me better in my experience, and also to feel myself accompanied by them. In addition, I’m lucky enough of being able to share this experience with my partner, Javi, with whom I feel very accompanied. I feel that we are growing up together in the mission. Also, we share weekly resting moments for having personal spaces to reflect and disconnect ourselves from everything that we live intensely day after day.
I still have many moths ahead here and I will keep on listening, observing and learning from everything around me. I feel lucky for having the possibility of living this experience and now, more than never, I’m aware of how lucky I’ve been in my life. I went to school, I received love at home, I received health care when I needed it, I’ve felt safe enough for walking freely on the street, I can drink water and have electric light and I’m able to eat every day.
Spanish lay missionary in The Dominican Republic.