Thursday, March 5, 2009


I got up early last morning, ready to go do some volunteer work with the street boys. I quickly got my things together and then headed down the long road that lead me out of my hotel. I tried to explain to the gate opener that I needed to take a guagua(small taxi-bus) to Puerto Plata. He pointed to me where I was to stand and I walked over. Cars came zooming by me, and I would later find out this was just the beginning of some crazy road adventures! A white van came towards me and made a quick stop. The door flew open and I said "puerto Plata?" "Si, Si!" I jumped in the front seat, squished between the driver and two other people. The driving is nothing like in Canada. I think I saw 1 set of traffic lights in the whole city. Cars and motorcycles zooms towards your car and then quickly zoom out. When I finally arrived at my destination, Parko Central, I felt accomplished that I made it alive. The same feeling I got when I walked off my very first roller coaster ride. I made a quick call to Liz, the woman I was volunteering with. She gave me an hour to explore the city before she was to pick me up. I sat down and thought about which direction I should go, when a few seconds later, a shoe shinner boy caught my attention. He was walking fast, dragging along his feet in his worn out flip flops. Immedietly I knew. It was William! I have never met him before, but I saw him on the organization photo listings. I immedietly wanted to help him, so before I left for the D.R, I made him a little pack(food, durag, hygiene supplies, school stuff). When I went out to see if he was home the day earlier, only his aunt was there and she said he was out working. I walked fast up to him and taped his shoulder. He turned around, I went speechless. "Ou pale kreyol?" Do you speak creole I asked him. He quietly said yes and I asked if his name was William. He said yes again, looking a little confused. I expalined who I was and that I knew Liz. He was so quiet and I asked him he wanted to get something to eat. We walked over to a little cafe on the ocean and ordered juice and chicken and fries. Slowly he started opening up to me and told me his mom is in Haiti and his dad died. He works everyday shoe shinning trying to make what little he can to help his family. A little boy walked by the window and he immedietly jumped up and called him in. They boy who walked in was 7, a tiny little thing. He wouldn't crack a smile and he just sat down looking so sad. When William's food came, he pushed the plate in front of the boy. His little hand took one frie and he slowly ate the food. I got a call from Liz saying to meet her in Agua Negra at the kids center, where they do crafts and english lessons. We packed up the food and left, but as we were leaving another shoe shinning friend of William was across the street. He wanted me to meet him so we went over. His name was Jimmy and he was also Haitian. He was on a job and William quickly helped him with the other shoe. Jimmy asked if I would take a picture of him, and so I did. When I showed him it on the screen he smiled and went back to work. When that was done, all three of us jumped in a taxi to Agua Negra. When we got there, we by the back crumbling stairs to reach the little room where they get art classes and english lessons. A bunch of other boys where there too. They introduced themselves and I did my best to do the same in my limited spanish. William would act as my translator, as I could ask him things or tell him something to say to someone else in kreyol. The spanish speaking kids kept saying "haitiano?" and not really understanding how I was Haitian, which I had to explain to them I was not just knew hot to speak the language. They still didn't understand the concept. As they sat down to start making their bracelets, William whispered in my ear that he was going to bring the leftover food to his little brother. I said ok and continued with the art project. The director asked where he went and I said home, she let me know that he would not be coming back. That was just his excuse to get out and go back to work. I was really upset but continued to do the art. About 5 minutes later someone tapped my back, it was William! We finnished the art project and then he went to show me around for about 2 hours. Jimmy and another boy Yourdin tagged along. Agua Negra is where these boys come from and it's basically a slum. Houses are shacks made of metal and garbage and no light gets in them. When it rains, it floods. Sewage is everywhere along with garbage. We walked around and talked alot. William's living conditons are really bad and he is mistreated. Despite this he is so caring and funny. Some guys would start "hissing" and he would tell them to get lost and take my hand and walk away. He's probably shoe shinning right now on an empty belly. I can only hope that he continues to be brave and caring and that he will be able to rise up.


amalia said...

great story loved it ...and love the DR...;)

Nikki said...

Wow, what a story. There are so many kids like William in the DR... it is so sad. I am looking forward to meeting him!