Mission trip to Dominican gives Stang satisfaction
Jul 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM
They live in corrugated steel houses, on a river into which they throw their trash and use as a bathroom. The garbage and waste back up into their homes, and every time it rains, they flood.
On a recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic, 2013 St. Paul graduate Chris Stang Jr. helped moved five such people into more secure living quarters and working sanitary sewer systems.
Even though the natives spoke little English, Stang could see in their faces and hear in their words how happy and thankful they were. He communicated mostly with hand gestures and what little Spanish he knows.
Stang said it was bittersweet for him to leave the week-long mission trip through Mission Possible. The nonprofit organization works to serve the “poorest of the poor” in the Dominican Republic.
When Stang arrived, five cinderblock frames were already standing, having been built by people who’d taken a previous mission trip. Stang and the others dug foundations for five new houses.
Little children were running around so excited at the sight.
“I can’t wait to go back,” said Stang, who will study pharmacology at the University of Findlay. “It was great to see the people’s smiles.”
This marked Stang’s first missionary trip.
One could tell they needed all the help they could get, Stang said.
Fly and maggot-infested meat for sale sits out in 100-degree weather all day.
“That’s the meat they buy to feed their families,” Stang said.
That’s a luxury.
During a previous missionary trip, a group of men didn’t eat it — they wrapped it up for their wives and children.
Screwdrivers are a “dime a dozen” in the U.S., Stang said. That’s not the case in the Dominican Republic, where there are no power tools and just three screwdrivers available for use. Sausage links hung from the side of buildings, as did the carcasses of cows and chickens.
According to the Rural Poverty Portal, the latest official poverty data shows more than a third of the country’s total population lives in poverty, and almost 20 per cent are living in extreme poverty. In rural areas poor people constitute half of the population.
The poor conditions weren’t immediately noticeable once Stang got off the plane. Stang flew into a tourist area and to him, it seemed like he just landed in Hawaii, with the palm trees and open-air airport. But just minutes into his ride away from the airport, “I was just really kind of stunned at first,” Stang said. He saw a man with a shotgun standing outside, perhaps suggesting how alert the locals are about safety.
Then he began seeing the other signs of poor conditions, including roaming dogs eating whatever they can find to survive.
Stang and the others stayed in a hotel with just a couple outlets — one for a television and another for a mini-refrigerator.
His meals consisted mostly of rice and beans.
Stang said he returned with greater appreciation.of what he has.
“Our needs are really not needs at all,” he said. “We should be taking our gifts and talents and putting them to use in ways that help those that need more. It makes me think that we can use what we have in better, more efficient ways.”