Ronal stayed at the house for the rest of the school year. There was no luck in finding a job. During summer vacation, soccer season was in full swing. Bouki and many others boys in the streets played at a field at a public school in the center of town along with the boys from the house. It now appeared that several of these boys were in a situation similar to Ti Ronal’s before moving in. They were not looking for mischief or games but a better life. Things were very hard for them in the streets. To meet this need, we opened Los Limones Boys’ Home & School.
This was a four bedroom, one bathroom house in a fairly quiet and humble neighborhood very close to the city. Two bedrooms served as dorm-style rooms, housing a total of eight boys. The other two rooms were used for classrooms. Food rations were given at times but during economic troubles in 2009, became hard to provide. All household members worked during the day shining shoes or doing some sort of street vending: hard-boiled eggs, icey pops, or CDs. School was a requirement for two hours every night. The program remains almost the same today but has developed some, expanded, and is in different facilities in a neighboring area.
When this program opened in July 2008, Ti Ronal left the house in Maimon along with another household member and joined this group in Los Limones. He served as a very reliable presence here. He woke up early every morning to boil eggs and go sell a few cartons (cartons of 30 eggs) at five pesos an egg before returning home. Sometimes at night, he walked around to discotequas, or clubs, and collected bottles which he could sell the next day. Because of his hard-boiled egg seling, he earned the name “guevero” among the landlord, his extended family, and some neighbors. Ronal often gives me money to hold for him. He does a great job at keeping a little savings. He often loans money to others and is reliable financially. He also is trustworthy to always go to school, even when things start to slip and other students, or even teachers, begin missing days. He is additionally trustworthy to report these happenings to me in a non-tattle tale way.
Up until lately, Ronal came over to my apartment every Monday evening for English lessons. We also sometimes threw in some math and Spanish. In July 2009, he came over for his Monday lesson as usual. A few days later, I visited the boys’ home in Los Limones. They informed me that Immigration had picked up Ti Ronal and taken him to Haiti. I was shocked and sad. I wondered when we would see him again and felt a little weakened knowing he was gone. I shared my sadness with others and they said, “Oh, he’ll be back.”
The following Monday evening, my husband and I arrived home late from leading a group of volunteers to different grassroots schools where they did medical consultations. As we started up the spiral staircase that leads to the second story apartment where we lived at the time, we heard a noise. My husband called up and Ti Ronal called back. We were surprised and delighted. He told us everything that had happened. He was dropped off across the border in Ouanaminthe, made his way to Cap Haitian to visit family for the first time since coming to the Dominican Repulic, then headed back after a day or two with someone called a “passer”. A passer is someone who walks with you for a few days in order to show you the way into the country, avoiding guards along the way. When you arrive at a point where it is now safe to go on the road, you take a bus, called a guagua, or a motorcycle. It is, as I am told and can only imagine, an exhausting trip. Luckily, Ti Ronal had money on him when Immigration picked him up. He spent the night at our apartment as it was about 11pm and he had just arrived from his trip. I was so proud of him for managing to not miss a single Monday English lesson! However, no one had the energy for a lesson that night.
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