Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A crisis of conscience


To Dominicans family is very, very important. Children will always support their parents financially in their old age, there are only few occupations with pensions, and would never dream of putting them in an old people’s home. They will move in with the parents or vice versa to ensure they are well looked after.

There are three events when the whole family will pull together: death, jail and hospital. If any member of the family is involved in either of these three, everyone will turn up to visit and give financial assistance even if they have to borrow to do it. When I was shot, Danilo's two sisters came and stayed in the hospital for a few days, washing me and looking after me. There was no questions that they would do this.

Danilo’s parents were both dead when I met him, so we did not have to provide for them. In fact we have been lucky with the rest of his family in that they rarely asked for or needed anything. We gave a small amount of money to his full brother when he was in hospital but only around £100. His sisters have never asked for anything.

His half brother, Antonio had a stroke about 9 months ago and we had to send something, even though we did not have much, he had nothing at all. And this is where my problem starts in that if we are broke why do we have to send money we do not have. To Dominicans there is no question. I know I feel selfish as I begrudge having to send money we could do with, but Dominicans have no selfishness when it comes to supporting the family – it is just something you do. If we don’t send it I feel very guilty so we sent the money.

A few weeks later, Danilo’s aunt died and he announced he had to go to the funeral in Barahona. Not only did we not have the money for the fare but we were also due to go to Barahona anyway the following week. He tried to make me understand that he HAD to go, that is what Dominicans did, but in the end I prevailed and luckily the final day of the wake – the ninth day, was the day we were due to arrive there, so he went then and gave them some money – as you do.

And now there is another issue. The brother who had a stroke has a child who is 8 years old. The mother is a Haitian who dumped the boy on the father when he stopped paying child support. Antonio is Danilo’s half brother and has not been able to work since the stroke – not that he appeared to do much beforehand. Apparently one of Danilo’s sons saw the kid begging on the beach for money which he would take back to his father so he brought the child here to stay with him and a female friend of his. Danilo's son works in the capital, Santo Domingo, so he left the child with his friend and she appears to be looking after him even though she isn't even related. That is what Dominicans do. They all help.

The child, Albert, came here last weekend with Chivirico. There is nothing wrong with him, but I, again selfishly, don’t want him to live with us. He has nowhere else to go. Should I be Dominican and simply take him in as any Dominican would, or do I say he has to find somewhere else and feel guilty about it. I can’t help the way I feel, I don’t want him living with us. Chivirico was not that impressed with him either and was happy when he left yesterday to go back to the woman he is currently living with.

Albert with Chivirico. Both almost the same age

He is only a child. He had no say in his mother, who dumped him, nor his father who is physically unable to look after him. My selfish side says why should I have him, and Danilo’s Dominican side says we have to help this kid.

What do I do? I think I have adapted to the Dominican way of life but when it comes to something like this my British side comes out and I opt for self preservation, not for giving it all up to help the family. But I feel guilty.

24 comments:

  1. Guilt is not from God. Pray until you absolutely KNOW God has given you an answer.

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  2. Kick a few bucks to the lady who is looking after him… you seem to have such a special connection with Chivirico and (yes, this is going to sound HORRIBLE) this kid might not be the best influence, through no fault of his own…
    he DOES have this lady who is looking after him, he is not on the street…
    Re-reading this sounds so callous but it is truly what I think. Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

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    1. Thanks for your answer. And no, the kid isn't on the street.

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  3. Wow, this is a powerful dilemma. I understand your point of view and I also understand Danilo's. I was married into an Italian family for 25 years and know how strong the pull of family responsibility can be.

    If it were me, I would welcome the child into your home for short periods of time, maybe at weekends or school holidays. I would worry that the friend that is looking after him might get overwhelmed and decide she can't deal with it anymore. Hopefully then with this compromise, Danilo will feel like he is fulfilling his commitment to the Dominican expectations and the feeling of guilt will be easier to deal with.

    I do totally understand your feelings though! Best of luck.

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    1. Yes I think that is the current plan. Some weekends and some time in the holidays.

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  4. Right now, he is safe. However if Danilo's son stops seeing this woman, you will have no choice. For now, contribute $ for his school, drop off eggs, etc. Chivirico is used to being the center of attention so naturally he will not welcome another child. Be the adult. The boys will adapt if it comes to that. For now make it attractive for the other woman to continue to care for the boy and keep a quiet eye on them.

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    1. Danilo's son is no longer with her, but she seems happy to look after Albert and he seems happy enough with the situation, although he loved being here for the weekend. Danilo visits him once a week where he is.

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  5. Wow ,I always love your blogs and stories until today. Your attitude towards this child is actually appalling a, callous and insensitive. Yet you can give Chivrico the world and advocate so strongly for him but this child is indispensable. Just know if anything bad happens to him your conscience will get at you. Just wow. My last visit to this blog

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    1. Sorry it will be your last visit. I just try and be honest about what is going on in my life and value the opinions of those who read the blog. I think I could have been accused of being callous and insensitive if I hadn't allowed him to come here at all and didn't try and think of the best solution for everyone.

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    2. Wow, Quite Bothered, your comments were not helpful. Would you call me callous and insensitive because I do not send in money when the Save a Child commercial comes on television? I don't know your life situation, nor do you know mine, but why don't you try to be more constructive in your comments? Obviously Lindsay is looking for ways to help without destroying her own life she has worked hard to build.

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  6. Ahhhhh Quite Bothered, that's a bit harsh. This lovely lady has persevered in her life and her marriage in the DR, despite being shot, has aided and assisted her husband's extended family and local community on many occasions, has changed the life of one child - Chivirico… and she has concerns about taking in her husband's half-nephew'??? Come on now...

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    1. Thanks for your support. I remember when I first started helping Chivirico someone mentioned that you could not just begin with a child and then stop. Once you start you need to remember that the help should be for life - another reason that there is only so much you have to give as you need to have that commitment.

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  7. @Bothered, I guess that's why the point was made that the child is half-Haitian. Not so much concern there, and that attitude is quite prevalent in DR.

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    1. Goodness it has nothing to do with being half Haitian. His mother is absolutely gorgeous and could be a model. The issue is that we live on around US$600 a month, I am not getting any younger, and if we take the child on it is a responsibility for life. I just feel we are stretched so much as it is I am not sure I can do it. The post was meant to explore the Dominican attitude to looking after family members children versus British attitudes.

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  8. Praying for you darling Lindsey ! Your open and sincere thoughts are normal to anyone who finds herself in this type of situations ! You can talk to the father (as tutor) and tell them about CONANI, to put him into the adoption process. USA families looking for beautiful children as some do not have one and want a child ! - maybe this prove to be a solution ? Well being of this child will be 100% secured ! He will have a future !

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    1. Thanks Olga that could be a perfect solution to give him a chance of a fabulous life. I will talk to his parents.

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  9. Wow, what a huge mental burden. You can't help how you feel, that is just how you feel. You already are doing so much for Chevirico. So so tough. No answers here, just wanted you to know that you are not being selfish by what you are feeling. Are Danilo's sisters in a position to help? You never really signed on for that when you got married.

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    1. Thanks cheapchick. Danilo has two sisters, both with their own kids and neither earns much money. I did ask that but I was top of the list as have more than them. Interesting you say never signed on for that. No I didn't but Dominicans do. When you marry the man you marry the family and have responsibility for them too. Thanks for saying I am not selfish - I just want to do the right thing and the best thing for all.

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  10. by the way i love your blog, and can relate to it a lot . first off i used to live in dr i learned the dominican ways family values and everything, i always been a woman to help out. But to be honest i don't think your being selfish at all, you are not mother theresa everyone has their battles and struggles, just as you stated you live on 600$ a month and I know thats not much just enough to get by, remember in dr there is thousands of kids in the streets who have the same situation does that mean you have to accept all these kids to your home i think you are not obliged to do so. that child gracias a dios as a woman who takes care of him but don't feel bad it is not selfish at all , a child is a "long term commitment" commitment . In dr what I don't like is that people want you to help them but then it turns to abuse, you get abused by your kindness. this is a child i understand but girl if you can't you can't if you dont want you don't want don't force it .

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    1. Thanks for you comments - I see you understand the DR a lot!

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  11. Lindsay,

    Forget which side you represent, Dominican or British.
    What does your heart say?
    And can you live with that decision?

    Ivy Velez

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  12. Candid and honest that's what I love about you...stay true to yourself didn't you raise Danilos two sons from a very young age without question you've done enough already....

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