We spend hours each day visiting poor batey communities

But in reality we don’t have to drive 3 hours to see the face of poverty. It is everywhere, even here in our nice hotel.

It’s the blank stare of a plainly dressed, dark-skinned woman sitting on the lobby couch next to a well-dressed, older white man

It’s the same girl quietly crossing herself and mouthing a prayer as she leaves his room

It’s the hunched back of another girl leaning quietly over her breakfast without speaking to her companion, who rests one designer boat shoe over his knee and doesn’t speak to her either.

 

View from our hotel in the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo.

View from our hotel in the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo.

This post was originally written in May 2012, when I participated in a month-long field study program doing research on microfinance in the Dominican Republic. We spent our days in the bateyes–poor, rural villages that rely mostly on extremely seasonal employment from sugar cane plantations–and then came back to Santo Domingo each night to our cushy hotel. I had a lot of thoughts about this. 

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