Mar 282013
 

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This gem of a girl wasn’t at the orphanage the first or even second year I was there.  But by the third year, she straggled into the orphanage and stirred up a fuss in the first week she was there.  She was picking fights with all the boys and objected to being told what to do.  Reubalisa was soon nicknamed the pistol because she didn’t take anything from anyone.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that she had been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her father.  Domestic violence is rampant in the DR and women are an easy target, regardless of their age.  They make 44% less than what men earn for the same work and their unemployment rate is more than twice that of men.  This makes women extra vulnerable because it is difficult to support themselves without a man.  The mentality that men are somehow better than women assumes a special name and form in Latin Culture, called “machismo”.  Women have come to accept this as a reality and gender based violence has risen to become the fourth leading cause of death in women.

So when Reubalisa started fights with all the boys and wouldn’t a single guy touch her in the slightest way, it was understandable given the way she had been treated.  It saddened me to learn that the first law regarding domestic abuse wasn’t even passed until 1997 in the Dominican Republic.  Some women accept it and others like Reubalisa fight back.  Since she’s been at the orphanage she has grown and is now able to talk to some of the boys who she has come to know.  But by no means is she healed, and she will never be the same again.

 

Facts from: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/23/the-dominican-republics-epidemic-of-domestic-violence/

Mar 212013
 

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This here is my friend Cici.  His mother dropped him off at the orphanage at a tender age when she began to realize something wasn’t right.

Maybe she didn’t know she was pregnant at the time, maybe she was an alcoholic or maybe she was just ignorant of the effects of consuming alcohol during a pregnancy.  But for one reason or another, Cici’s mother drank while he was still a developing fetus and it caused him a lot of his mental capacity.  According to the Mayo Clinic, when a mother drinks alcohol, it gets in her bloodstream and eventually the baby’s bloodstream via the placenta.  Because the baby is still developing, it does not have the ability to metabolize alcohol like a fully grown woman does.  The alcohol disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, cause defects.

A child with FAS will begin to show signs at a young age in the form of hearing and vision problems, learning disabilities and mental retardation.  There are also other physical features that are prominent, such as:

  • small eyes,
  • an exceptionally thin upper lip,
  • a short, upturned nose, and a
  • smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip
  • Small head circumference

So the orphanage excepted Cici and took him in.  He could only mumble a little and it sounded like Cici, so that is what he was called.  In the DR, there is little to no care for people with mental illnesses so people simply drop off their children at orphanages or even worse just leave their children to die.  Most families cannot afford another mouth to feed, that requires extra care and cannot support themselves.  There is no cure or way to reverse the damage done by Cici’s mother and he will have to live that way for the rest of his life.  The orphanage takes good care of him, but it is heartbreaking to see someone who is mentally retarded due to the stupidity of his mother.  Fetal alcohol syndrome is 100% preventable.

 

 

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