Nourishing Strong, Healthy Baseball Players in the Dominican Republic

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.   Because malnutrition is dangerously high in the Dominican Republic and children often go without meals during their day, one of ILB’s priorities is to provide its players with enough nourishment to keep their bodies strong, healthy, and ready for optimal athletic performance.  This means Yamina will rise with the sun to begin the long process of cooking for these young baseball players.

Thanks to partners like you, Yamina is able to provide ILB players with nutritious meals.

Breakfast is a simple meal made of cornmeal, chocolate, and milk; slowly simmered and stirred.  Lunch on the other hand is a bit more complicated.  Although rice and beans are the staple Dominican foods, Yamina likes to mix it up and surprise the boys with different meals each day—from spaghetti to chicken, fish, and even sausage.  Yamina serves breakfast and lunch to the boys who practice in the morning.   The afternoon group starts their practice with a hearty lunch, and finishes off the day with a big dinner.  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.

Yamina doesn’t have a lot of conveniences in the kitchen, but she makes do and puts together delicious meals for the children.

Although this daily routine may seem ordinary to most mothers and cooks, Yamina’s work can only be described as extraordinary. The simplest tasks for an American cook are Yamina’s greatest challenges.  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.  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.  While we have unlimited options to choose from at the grocery store, Yamina is limited to what is available locally.  Although she’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 ILB’s food budget.  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.

Yamina’s job is tough, but she loves serving the children. Her job also allows her to provide for her own family.

While Yamina’s work is exhausting, her smile would never let you know it.  “I love what I do,” she says with a grin.  “This is a good way to support my family and to serve a good cause.”  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.  Sponsor a player today!

Or sponsor a child in any one of Children of the Nations’ programs.

by Candice Garza, COTN Venture Participant

Saved from the Streets: Anderson’s Story

This post originally appeared on the Children of the Nations website, here.

Anderson is a young boy who would be sleeping on the streets of Barahona, Dominican Republic, if it weren’t for partners like you.  Anderson’s father abandoned his family when Anderson was very young.  His mother was left to care for the children, but she was unable to provide for them.  With no one to turn to, Anderson had to look out for himself.  He dropped out of school and cleaned people’s shoes to make ends meet.  He fished for his dinner each evening, and most nights he slept in an abandoned bar.

Anderson is happy he can practice baseball, attend school, and go to church. His life has been transformed thanks to partners like you!

This was the state in which I Love Baseball’s assistant coach Maximo Ortiz found Anderson.  Right away, he recognized Anderson needed help, and invited him to join Children of the Nations’ I Love Baseball (ILB) program.

Now that 14-year-old Anderson is sponsored through ILB, he no longer has to worry about what he will eat each day.  He knows there will always be two solid meals for him—before and after practice.  He’s also started attending school.  And he found out he is pretty good at baseball.  “At the program, I have learned to respect people, and I also discovered my baseball skills,” says Anderson.

Anderson is a talented pitcher, and hopes to become a professional baseball player. If that doesn’t work out, he will have a good education to fall back on.

ILB begins practice each day with a devotional, and the coaches encourage the boys to attend church and dedicate their lives to God.  This encouragement was a turning point for Anderson.  “My life is changed because now I go to church,” he says.  “Also, I participate in the devotional at practice.”

Coach Maximo describes Anderson as a young boy with amazing physical and mental potential.  Anderson’s favorite position to play is pitcher.  Like most of the boys, he hopes to become a professional baseball player.  But if that doesn’t work out, Anderson says he’d also like to be an engineer.  “I appreciate the opportunity given by COTN and ILB, because through this I’ll achieve my dreams,” he says.

You can transform the life of a child like Anderson.  Sponsor a child today!

by Cassia Burke, COTN–USA Staff Writer

Broken Hearts and Empty Stomachs

I was heart broken last week after two months of sweating and working day after day in the sun with our baseball players to learn that on a daily basis the majority of them show up at practice with an empty stomach. There is no food in their homes to eat for breakfast. Those that do have food, have bread and coffee. Try and think back for a moment to your days as a high school, college or peewee athlete. Now imagine training day after day on an empty stomach. Imagine working for or five hours every day in the sun with no fuel and never complaining. If you never played sports, imagine going to work every day and not eating until lunch. How cranky would you be? And you aren’t running in the sun. That is the reality for our kids. It crushed me for that for the two last months I had been ignorant of this problem and that somehow how our program hadn’t already done something to solve it. I couldn’t sleep. I spent the night crying and calling out to God to protect and strengthen our kids.

I still can’t understand how something hasn’t been done sooner but I’ve vowed to make sure something is done about it. For the time being I’ve resorted to buying bread, peanut butter and Gatorade every morning on the way to practice with my own money, but the long term solution is finding more sponsors for our kids and making sure that that money gets directed to our kids basic nutritional needs long after I’m back in the United States and can’t buy breakfast. I’ll get on my knees and beg if that is what takes because my heart break for these kids.

So sponsor a kid already! Your money isn’t going to bats, balls and gloves. It is going to make sure our kids have the basic nutritional necessities they need to survive and grow much less train to become professional athletes. It is going to go to making sure they have the basic educational opportunities they need to have a choice about what they are going to do with their life.

We have 4 different levels of sponsorship:

Single………………………… $32/month
Double……………………….. $64/month
Triple…………………………. $96/month
Home Run…………………… $128/month

Please sponsor a kid and get everyone you know to sponsor one too. Family, friends, enemies, acquaintances, whoever! Shoot me an email and I can tell you all about our different kids and help you pick the one that right is for you. They have truly amazing stories and God is doing an amazing work in their lives. They need our prayers too, but in this case we have the opportunity to be a part of the answer to those prayers.