This post originally appeared on the Children of the Nations website, here.
Since the birth of Children of the Nations’ I Love Baseball (ILB) program in 2008, Yamina Perez has provided perhaps its most vital component: food.Â Â Because malnutrition is dangerously high in the Dominican Republic and children often go without meals during their day, one of ILBâ€™s priorities is to provide its players with enough nourishment to keep their bodies strong, healthy, and ready for optimal athletic performance.Â This means Yamina will rise with the sun to begin the long process of cooking for these young baseball players.
Breakfast is a simple meal made of cornmeal, chocolate, and milk; slowly simmered and stirred.Â Lunch on the other hand is a bit more complicated.Â Although rice and beans are the staple Dominican foods, Yamina likes to mix it up and surprise the boys with different meals each dayâ€”from spaghetti to chicken, fish, and even sausage.Â Yamina serves breakfast and lunch to the boys who practice in the morning.Â Â The afternoon group starts their practice with a hearty lunch, and finishes off the day with a big dinner.Â And while the boys chomp away, knowing their next meal may not be until they return to ILB the next day, Yamina continues to work in the kitchen as she begins the cleanup.
Although this daily routine may seem ordinary to most mothers and cooks, Yaminaâ€™s work can only be described as extraordinary. The simplest tasks for an American cook are Yamina’s greatest challenges.Â Instead of going to a kitchen sink for running water, she collects and carries water in a basin. Before turning on her tiny, very old, run-down stove to begin meal preparation, she has to check to see if her gas tank is full.Â If she is out of gas, she will have to walk to a gas station to fill up her tank, and then walk back to the kitchen.Â While we have unlimited options to choose from at the grocery store, Yamina is limited to what is available locally.Â Although sheâ€™d love to serve the boys a fresh salad or some fruit to go along with their meal, the grocery store may not sell the foods she wishes to purchase, or there may not be enough money for these luxuries in ILBâ€™s food budget.Â And when the boys have finally finished their plates, she begins cleanup with a large basin of water in her backyard to wash everything by hand.
While Yaminaâ€™s work is exhausting, her smile would never let you know it.Â â€œI love what I do,â€ she says with a grin.Â â€œThis is a good way to support my family and to serve a good cause.â€Â Thanks to Yamina, and to partners like you who make her work possible, the boys in our ILB program are always guaranteed two meals a day.
You can help provide food, education, spiritual care, and baseball training for a young Dominican.Â Sponsor a player today!
Or sponsor a child in any one of Children of the Nations’ programs.
by Candice Garza, COTN Venture Participant