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.