The Road to Batey Dos
This video, created by Dr. George McHendry of Creighton University, begins with a brief history of colonialism and Haitian—Dominican relations. Understanding this history is vital to understanding why this “batey” is populated by “citizens of nowhere.” The sugarcane industry was and continues to be critical to the economy of the Dominican Republic. These families that continue to live in Batey Dos are the legacy of an exploited people with almost no social capital.
The ILAC Center in Santiago, Dominican Republic has been in relationship with this community since the early 2000’s and recently began a collaboration with Dr. Thomas Kelly to form a children’s kitchen in 2016 to offset the terrible malnutrition among the children. According to a health needs assessment completed in 2016 by a group of Creole-speaking Haitian doctors and nurses, over 50% of the children of this Batey suffered from “severe malnutrition” for a variety of reasons.
Through an immersion experience that visited Batey Dos in 2017, Dr. Tanya Benedict, encountered the children of this community and offered to start a non-profit called Pascal’s Pantry to help fund and sustain this children’s kitchen. Today, Pascal’s Pantry is a tri-national team of U.S. citizens, a Haitian nurse and a Dominican doctor. Together with and through the leadership of Maria Meliten of Batey Dos, the ILAC health promoter and community leader, we all work to improve the lives of the children.
Back to Batey Dos
This video tries to give the viewer a deeper sense of the material conditions in Batey Dos. Most houses are constructed of recovered material from the nearby city dump and nailed together, covered by tin roofs. There is no electricity or plumbing in the community, and only since 2010 has water come in through an aqueduct connected to a community 5 kilometers away. People wash their laundry by hand and their children with buckets of water.
Since the beginning of Pascal’s Pantry, Batey Dos receives a monthly visit from Redline Dorsavil, a Haitian nurse who knows each child and follows their growth and development. A Dominican doctor, Dr. Huascar Rodriguez, often accompanies her to deal with more serious problems such as rashes, parasites, fevers, intestinal problems and upper respiratory issues. Doctors also come to the DR and volunteer to treat the children such as Dr. Johanna Kelly (in the video), a pediatrician from Reading, PA.
Through the health promoter, Maria Meliten and her team, Pascal’s Pantry provides one balanced nourishing meal every weekday for children of this community. For many of the children, it is the only meal they will eat that day. More recently, donors have rented a nearby 15-acre farm that is managed by the community. The point person for the farm, Fritz, plants and harvests a variety of vegetables so the community can feed itself—especially its most vulnerable members.