Dominican Republic (MNN) — Spring training is underway for Major League baseball players. While the United States is gearing up for America's favorite pastime, a Major League Baseball player is helping kids learn the game while also introducing them to Christ.
Batey Aleman is a community of Haitian migrant workers who harvest sugar cane in the Dominican Republic. It's a hopeless place. But now, with the help of St. Louis Cardinal's baseball player Albert Pujols, children have hope. Kathy Redmond with Compassion International says, "He actually sponsors our entire child survival program there in that Batey."
Redmond just returned from the Dominican Republic where she was able to see the work firsthand. She says many of the Haitians have lived in the Batey for generations. But, she says there's a problem. "They can't get government help in the Dominican Republic because they don't have birth certificates. Well, their kids aren't born in hospitals, therefore they don't have birth certificates. So, it's a continued cycle."
However, it's worse in Alamon. Redmond says, "The sugar cane industry is defunct. People are living in a dust bowl, where drug dealers come by. You can see men playing dominos in the streets because there's nothing for them to do."
There is also nothing for the children to do.
While Little League baseball exists in areas outside the Batey, Redmond says, "We're bringing that same program out into the Batey, which is a more rural area, using this to keep our Compassion kids in the program where we can teach them spirituality and responsibility."
Redmond says for Pujols, it's more than that. "He uses baseball as a platform. But, really what he's interested in is spreading the Word of God and being a good Christian man and leading people to the Lord."
Compassion International's Child Survival Program targets expectant mothers and children up to age 4. Compassion is doing all they can to help them with microfinance to help start small businesses so they can be self sufficient. Since all of the work is done through the local church, those in the program hear the Gospel, and many come to faith in Christ.