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Tough Life for Third World Animals
By Julie Kenney
You would think that after six mission trips to the Dominican Republic that there would be a sense of ho-hum, done this before, type of feeling. But that is not so.
Our primary mission is building a hospital to serve the Haitians who have no access to medical care, and traveling medical clinics that go out into the bateys (loosely translated to camps) and the barrios (city neighborhoods) to serve the people who are not accepted in doctor’s offices and most likely wouldn’t have a way to get there, even if they could afford it.
The bateys and barrios we serve start off poor and go downhill from there. Without access to clean, purified water, most everyone has diarrhea and vomiting on a daily basis. Their bodies are all vitamin-deficient as well.
This is not a happy-ending sort of story….so if you are looking for that, you might want to stop reading.
But this story is one of hope. With the people in a constant state of survival, the animals can’t help but suffer right alongside.
The needs of the animals come far below the needs of the people struggling, but I can’t help but hope that one day the health levels of the people will improve to the degree that the animals will begin to receive their share.
There is virtually no middle-class within a third world nation. You are either rich or very poor. With that poverty comes no ability to control the population of the animals that abound there.
Dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, and cows are all left to their own devices when it comes to breeding. With the animals that provide food such as chickens, goats, and cows, that can be a good thing.
If a batey is fortunate enough to have a herd of goats or a few cows, they will at least receive fresh milk and have a good source of protein in their diet. Not all bateys are fortunate enough to have these. But every one I’ve been to does have a number of chickens.
What tugs at my heartstrings the most is the horses and dogs. I’ve yet to ever see a spark of life in a dog’s face or a horse’s eye. Their demeanor is quite sad to see. Especially when I think of mine I have at home all healthy and happy and brimming with a mischievous nature.
Shortly after arrival at a barrio where we were to set up our medical clinic for the day, I noticed that one of our volunteer doctors, on her first mission trip, was visibly shaken. After asking her what was wrong she related to me that she saw a puppy run over by a truck just outside of the church we were setting up in. She was in tears because none of the locals seemed upset and even some children had gathered around the dead puppy’s body quietly looking at it.
I tried to console her. I explained that most likely this was a common occurrence. Death happens frequently in all forms, with animals especially, in these types of poverty stricken situations. Even knowing this, it didn’t stop the sting of sadness I felt.
I can only pray that as the health of the people continue to improve, somewhere along the line, the health of the animal population will start to improve as well.
That is where my hope lies: continue to administer to the people. Help them to the point that they are not constantly trying to survive from one day to another.
It may not happen during my generation, but in generations to come, my hope is that dogs and horses won’t be bred indiscriminately and left to whatever means of survival they can.
It is a sad thing to witness.
If you want to see more about the mission that I go on,
There are so many more stories in my head, all involving children, that have touched me so very much.
Our medical missionary, Kristy, has a motto that goes:
We do what we can, with what we have, in the time that we are given.
View Reader Comments:
Thank you so much for reminding us not to take our gifts for granted. You reached out when you made the trip, Julie. And thanks for reaching out with the article.
Julie, what a beautifully written, compassionate article about your mission. I so admire the work you do, thank you for sharing your most recent experience. Now, can we Nickernews Fans all pull together and each contribute something to donate towards building the hospital to help these people?
Thank you both for your kind comments. Harsh life like we see in the Dominican is very hard to witness. I try to bring a bit home with me every time so I don't forget and try to share it with others that have never encountered that level of poverty. It truly does help you to count your blessings.
Thank you for sharing the real story of the DR to those who have not had the experience of serving there. It is such a great reminder to count your blessings, and share what you can. Nothing is too small. God Bless your dedication, and gift of giving.
If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:
Julie Kenney, Focus on Fitness, III
Winter Weigh In: Julie Kenney
Winter Horse Care, as Nature Intended
Looking Forward as I Look Back
Custom Saddle Journey, Part One
"Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses" - Elizabeth Taylor
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