Bursting Forth for the Children of the Dominican Republic

By Lauren Borders

The first Vacation Bible School song I ever learned to sing in Spanish was “I got the Joy, Joy, Joy,” which has the potential of being as infuriating as “It’s a Small World” on loop but is a gift from God to hear from the mouths of children.

Yo tengo gozo, gladness


I have never seen children more full of this word than Dominican children. They sing louder, play harder, and rip more of your hair out while braiding it than anyone else. When they discover you’re just about as proficient in Spanish as their two-year-old sister, they are patient with you. And when you’ve been doing back-breaking construction work for four hours, they help you haul brick, stumbling over rocks in rubber flip-flops. Constantly wanting to be carried, to be held, to show you the faded pink bow in their hair. The little piece of God in them is so obvious.

This makes it hurt even more when one of them pulls you aside to show you a rash on the back of their head. When one of them points to the swollen belly of their sibling to ask “Why?” Why is this happening? Can you fix this? I blame it on my limited Spanish vocabulary, but I really I don’t have the heart to tell them it’s because they’re drinking contaminated water. That rash is because of bacteria in the water you drink. Your brother’s stomach is so big because he has parasites living in him. Parasites he most likely got from his drinking water. They rob him of his food. That is why he eats and eats and is never full.

Yo tengo paz, peace

How can one have peace in the middle of this? Mother Teresa told us that, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” We belong to each other. I belong to the girl with the rash, the boy with the distended stomach, and they belong to me. Meaning I honor the God in you, and you do the same for me.

Belonging to each other is also accompanied by inherent obligation. An obligation to take care of one another. We can have peace because there is a movement to do just that.


The water crisis in the Dominican Republic does not come with an age restriction.

This summer, Water@Work is announcing its Bursting Forth Campaign, an effort to raise $50,000 for youth outreach programs in community churches as well as the construction and maintenance of water plants in the Dominican Republic in areas where children are most heavily plagued by water-borne illnesses. Those who are fortunate enough to attend school receive clean water there. However, with school not being in session this season, they have no other choice but to drink from contaminated sources.

Yo tengo alegría, joy

I have joy because of what this campaign can accomplish and how it will change the lives of those impacted.

Yo tengo gozo, paz y alegría.