by Scott Walker
The kids, the shoes, the clothing… No one cares and you don’t hear children making fun of one another for the brand of shoes one wears or the other one does not.
In America we have become a brand driven society. I am sure that parts of the Dominican are like that today, but I have yet to see it with my own eyes.
In places like El Caobal, Dominican Republic most of the children wear shoes that were donated by churches in America. You see boys wearing pink and purple New Balance shoes, yellow Converse, Keds, Reboks from the 1990’s, girls wearing boys Nike’s and more, but no one cares. Another thing I noticed is that school uniforms are a part of the dress code at the schools I visited – and kids don’t care.
When the bell rings and school is over, I love how I see traces of Murfreesboro, Tennessee all over El Caobal and LaRepressa. I see MTSU shirts, Blackman High School clothing, Oakland, Riverdale and Smyrna just to name a few. I think it is neat that local residents in my very own community have made such an impact on the Dominican in small villages most of us will never see. New Vision in Murfreesboro has played a huge role in bringing love to these areas.
Schools in the Dominican take the protection of school grounds serious. The schools I visited were wrapped with concrete walls topped with razor wire protecting them from the outside world during school hours.
The children at the schools in the Dominican, while poor financially, are filled with joy. For me, it was like stepping back in time watching kids play together without a playground or a video game to keep them occupied. They wholeheartedly played together.