March 16, 2013
Author: Nate McLaughlin, Family Med physician, UIC Team
Three to twelve. We had a pretty large jump in group size today. We were conspicuous as a group of three, but I feel like we are a traveling circus now. However, we are glad for the new insight and energy brought by the newer part our team, the Access to Health team from Northwestern University.
Tonight we had great insight into other views of problems in Guaymate. Presentations that took what I’m sure is a massive amount of time to research and assemble were boiled down to a few minutes of presentation to the CAB. Projects included HIV, diabetes, maternal mortality, and family planning. Each project had great statistics and a hypothetical proposed plan to address the researched problem. After the presentations there was much discussion, some old, some new, regarding to problems in the community. The meeting ended on a high note with good spirits and much anxious chatter about what to do next. The CAB very kindly provided snacks and refreshments and then we dispersed as dusk fell over Guyamate.
That was the formal stuff for the day, now for the spiritual. No, not church…baseball. Baseball in the DR, you know that it’s big, but this is more than that. Virtually all other sports are shunned and kids head en masse to the ‘play’ (baseball field). I had plans to play with some guys from the community, but they ended up being busy. One of them was occupied coaching the local little league team, so I climbed into the concrete bleachers, snugged my hat down on my head, and settled in to watch kids play ball. I have always loved the transcendent nature of sport. It’s like a language unto itself that everyone in attendance speaks. In many ways the field they were playing on could have been the little league field I grew up playing on in Etna, Ca. The grass was holding onto hardpan, dust was plentiful in the air and the cinder block dug outs held rambunctious kids intermittently taking baseball very seriously and everything else less so. Four teams had descended upon the field and there was chaos. People hitting grounders, fly balls, playing catch and running amock, I was amazed that no one was seriously injured. Suddenly the chaos stopped and a game materialized. The passion brought a smile to my face as a 4 foot tall 10 year old nearly chest bumped his umpire/coach after he made what was clearly the “wrong” call. The morning continued on in a series of balls, strikes, hits, outs and eventually, tears. I don’t know that this scene was much different from the little league of my youth, it was only more. More excitement, more noise, and many, many more people. I feel like every fan of baseball should experience this. This seems to be everything I love about sport, but there is a down side. Dreams of a big league paycheck and a way out lead some to pursue baseball to the exclusion of all other things. I still don’t think it’s a bad thing because they love it. They love baseball, and sitting there watching them I once again realized that I do too.