It’s been a long, productive day. Cheri and Allen picked me up in their dinghy and the three of us went in to Altagracia’s home. Marci and the girls went to yoga, the boys worked on school work and Danny stayed home for the day to rest his foot.When the three of us arrived, Altagracia was proudly sweeping and washing her new concrete floor. She is excited that because of the concrete lip that was made along the front of her home and school area, when it rains she will no longer be flooded. Combine that with her new roof, and she’s got it made!
Allen immediately got busy with the guys to finish off the roof.
In the kitchen and the classroom areas, spiffy little skylights have been placed to let more light in.
The rain gutters were the final project that had to be completed.
Rueben announced that their work was done, and the remaining work was what us gringos needed to do. He has been so great to work with. A sweet man with a big, big heart. We all gave him big thank you hugs.
Before Rueben left, he asked again if it was ok that he use the left over sand and concrete mix for his friend in need. We told him that would be just fine, and he thanked us and told us he would like it if we met him. Allen, Cheri and I followed him into the slums of Luperon. Sewage ran in a ditch along side the path, and homes with mostly dirt floors sat precariously in a row.
We arrived at a little home at the end of the path, which sits a few feet from a mosquito infested swampy area.
Reuben walked in with a cheerful voice and motioned for us to follow.
On some of the dirt floors, plastic had been laid down to try lessen the amount of mud inside, and interior walls are made of broken down cardboard boxes.
On a bed under a mosquito net, lay a frail little man named Flee, who is dying of HIV.
He reached his hand out to me and I held it and told him my name. Reuben told him we were going to lay concrete down in his home for him and he thanked us over and over. I asked about his medication. He has huge tumors protruding from his chest and is in pain. We were told that the government helps provide him with medication. I asked if he had enough food and was told that he can only stomach Ensure and that periodically people in the community with gather money together to try buy him some. I asked where they buy it and told them that we would go buy some for him.
When Cheri and Allen and I walked out of the neighborhood, we spoke about how humbling the experience was. These people are so incredibly poor. Reuben said that since the floor is always wet, it gets cold in Flee’s house at night and the concrete will help with that. In the day time it is very hot, so we will get him a fan as well. In Reuben’s spare time he purchased wiring from his own funds and installed electricity to Flee’s home.
I immediately messaged the rest of the crew and told them what we had seen. Everyone except Danny came into town around 2pm and while Marci, Jude, Mycah and I walked to buy Ensure, everyone else went to prepare to paint at Altagracia’s. The store had 48 bottles of Ensure and we bought it all.
We returned to Flee’s home with Reuben and gave it to him. He was so grateful. I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him, and he told me he knows. Marci and the girls chatted with him for a few minutes, trying to figure out more details of his condition and medication. It sounds like he is on HIV meds, but no pain meds and he has to be taken to Puerto Plata once a month to visit with the doctor. His body is so frail, I can’t imagine he would survive the ride.
We returned to our project and started the painting process, and I could not get Flee off my mind. I just want to hold him. Take care of him. Make sure he’s comfortable and feels important and loved.
Allen, Mycah and I picked up materials to build the final wall separating the classroom from the kitchen, and Allen did an amazing job putting the wall up and built a little shelf for Altagracia.
The creatures had helped remove concrete from the tiled area in the entry way, and Marci’s ride arrived to take her to Santiago to pick Chad up at the airport.
Allen also fixed one of her chairs.
The painting party was tons of fun…
Once we applied the ‘war paint’, things really got real!
Finally, we finished the 2 gallons of paint we had and could paint no farther until we purchase more tomorrow.
The creatures and I made our way over to the square for one last important item of business…
When we return to Altagracia’s home at 9am tomorrow, we probably only have an hour or two of work left to do. We feel good about the progress we made today, and are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve.