A few August Dominican Republic teen summer camp participants launched a fundraising campaign last fall that raised over $2,800 for a cistern in the Duqueza batey. Construction begins this spring. The money raised surpassed the cost of the cistern, which allowed the Sabana Perdida Lions Club to buy and distribute a brand new Christmas toy to every child in the batey. And, at least one public school scholarship can be funded.

Coincidentally, a decade ago in 1997 a few DR participants returned home and established the Batey Children’s (Educational) Fund. The Batey Children’s Fund has assisted and/or is currently supporting school fees for a dozen batey students to date.

Each summer in the DR our teen summer camp groups visit one of the bateyes where sugar cane plantation workers live who are mostly Haitians. Haitian men migrate to work the long, hard days of the sugar harvest, lured by intermediaries hired by the sugar cane industry who promise Dominican work permits that only occasionally materialize. The Haitians soon learn that leaving the batey is extremely difficult. Over time, many have no choice but to stay on after harvests and start families with Haitian women who also migrated.

The bateyes are brutal, unsanitary slums, rife with health hazards. There are no public services, a responsibility theoretically assumed by the sugar cane companies and the state Sugar Council, but neither provides even basic services. Clean water is a rare resource. A cistern for Duqueza is a dream come true.

John Lennon said, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Congratulations to our DR August ’07 participants for dreaming together to make a cistern for Duqueza batey a reality! We are so very proud of you, and Duqueza is deeply grateful.

VISIONS in The New York Times