Solidarity.

It is so hard to believe that yesterday was already our 2nd and LAST day in Cien Fuegos.  It was a completely different day than Tuesday was.  After tediously reviewing the footage we had from Tuesday’s visit the night before, we knew what we had to do filming-wise, and I knew what I wanted to get out of the day personally as well.  We entered Cien Fuegos composed, focused, and ready to get the rest of the footage we needed to capture the story of Pedro and his work in this impoverished community.

I truly felt like I was walking WITH the people of Cien Fuegos yesterday, not just walking around them trying to capture their lives in a 15 second clip we may or may not even use in the final version of the documentary.  I was hot and sweaty and just out of my element, but I loved it.  Walking amongst these people was an inspiring experience for me in many ways.  My heart broke when I saw the dirt, the trash, the lack of clothes, the black water, and the run down houses/buildings that define this community.  But my heart was filled with joy every time I saw these beautiful people smile or wave, because it reminded me that these people are in fact human beings, just like we are.  They have their daily struggles and their challenges just as we do, although they are overwhelmingly different from our own, and they do the best that they can to overcome them.  To see them smile in the midst of the poverty they live in puts everything into perspective for me.  Yes, their lives are difficult in a way that I do not fully understand yet, but these people have hope in a brighter tomorrow, and this is what gets them through the day.  It is incredible.  And inspiring.

Yesterday, things got real.  We worked hard to capture Cien Fuegos on film, interview the amazing people who are making positive changes in the community, and understand/appreciate the hard work these people put in to overcoming obstacles that are beyond comprehension for many.  I witnessed the injustices these people face on a daily basis, but also the motivation they have to overcome them.  I saw the frustration in their eyes over their dire circumstances, but also the stamina they have to take on the cards they have been dealt.  I experienced the pain they must feel every day not knowing if they will have enough food to put on the table for their families, but also the faith they put in each other and in God for the future.  If there is one thing I have learned that Dominicans know how to do, it is survive.  They are strong, united, and hopeful that things will get better.  This is empowering.  It has made me realize that it is my turn to share these experiences with others.  Even if it only inspires one other person to stand up and make a difference in this world, that is one more person than there already is.  And overcoming the injustices of this world will take us understanding what they are and working together for change.

For as hesitant as I was to film the lives of the people of Cien Fuegos, everyone has been so gracious about us coming into their community.  It is unbelievable.  But I have realized that they want us to see their reality.  They want us to understand what it is they experience every single day.  And they want us share it with others.  This is exactly what we have been called to do on this trip, and it is an amazing feeling to know we are in the process of making it happen one film clip at a time.     

In witnessing the poverty, the pain, and the HOPE of the people of Cien Fuegos, 

Ray J

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