22 November 2006

Acta de Nacimiento

Many of you have been interested in the birth certificate campaign Courtney and I have been working on. Well, after months of house visits, searching hospital records, and trying to understand the maze of bureaucratic DR, our hard work has been rewarded. On Oct 20, the DGDC (our government counterpart for this campaign) organized a ceremony for the families to receive their birth certificates. It was a typical show of political-ness. The families gathered i the church in Manabao, a rural town about 40 minutes outside of Jarabacoa. Our Peace Corps Country Director was there representing us, but Fernando insisted that we join the head table also. We were told we would have a few minutes to speak, and Courtney and I decided to thank the people that made it all possible - the community health promoters, the judge, the hospital director... As soon as the DGDC director arrived, we were off and running. Speeches were made - unusually short and to the point. When our turn arrived, we began by explaining the significance of the pins we were giving as thank yous. But as Courtney began to call up the different people, we were waved off and told "later".
The the interesting part began. They began calling out the names of the parents to receive the actas. As each parent came forward, a man was there to photograph them receiving the document... and a package of condoms. Nothing was said about the unusual "gift", but it made a statement on its own.
After all 75 certificates were handed out, everybody was herded to the back door where packages of food were given to the families. If the children were present, they received mosquito nets also. After everyone had gone through the line, the kids were lined up to get toys. In all, it was a big day for these families, although many were upset because their kids weren't there to get the gifts. As soon as the gifts were given out, the officials pulled up and out, leaving all the questions to Courtney and I.
Overall it was a very eye-opening experience to see how Dominicans run an event such as this. Courtney and I had our own feelings and reservations about the process, but we realized that all we could do was step back and let it happen. We would still be here, in the communities to answer questions, do follow-up, and thank the real players. Politics and appearances are very important in this country, and we got a front seat view this time around. Of course... the "officials" weren't the only visible ones. The following Monday, and still to this day, we get reports of how people saw us on the news! ...I do believe I've been on TV twice in this country now... and have yet to see myself!


Krista said...

Good job with this whole thing. Even with any kinks or oddities that there were it is great that you guys handed out 75 birth certificates.

Pastor Randy said...

Wow! What a GREAT task you two accomplished! Way to go. If you did only that, to get these families recognized your time with the PC would be profitable.

I realize that it may seem like not everything went the way you had planned, but not only are you working with a political element, but you're working cross-culturally in the 2/3 world. Not to mention language barriers, history, and maybe even gender issues.

You did well! Keep up the good work! You're being thought of and prayed for.

Blessings and Peace

Mrs. Stearns' First Grade said...

Our class has been excited about this project as we have been collecting money in our class to help. It hasn't been much but the children have become more aware.They were excited to hear that you handed out so many birth certificates and you were on T.V. Keep us updated on this project. You are in our daily prayers and thoughts.

Mrs. Stearns' First Grade said...
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