All students have arrived and are ready for their program!
Writing from a second day stand point, we are just starting to get the hang of things. It started off with flight arrivals ranging from early morning to late at night. This made it difficult to bond as a group, but once we hit day two things improved. The service we preformed was a village called Caño Dulce, and consisted of putting cement floors down in resident’s homes, and painting bee boxes. Working so closely with the residents was an eye-opening experience for everyone. These people live so different than to what we are accustomed. The children were interactive along with helpful and very interested in our phones. They followed us to lunch. After a day of hard work, we all went to the beach, and swam in the pool.
Needless to say, there is a very different style of living here. Between cold showers, no wifi, and humidity, there is never a dull moment. On the positive side, the beach is one hundred yards away and you open the door and the pool is right there. People we have met have been from all over the U.S., and two from Hong Kong. It’s amazing how people living far away can have things in common. So far, so good here in the Dominican Republic,
Over and Out
– Barrett and Gwen
Today we traveled to Arroyo Blanco and helped some local Dominican people with a reforestation project. We started off our project with a 45 minute hike up to the village. When hiking up to the mountain we traveled through several streams where the only means across was to hop on rocks and walk across water pipes. When we arrived at the village, we divided into groups; one group filled small plastic bags with fertile soil and the other shoveled weeds out of three greenhouses and organized them. The greenhouses were at least 10 degrees hotter than the air temperature due to the fact that they were perforated black tarps. The work in the greenhouses was extremely grueling and within 5 minutes everyone was dripping in sweat which only brought us closer as a group. After an hour of shoveling we discovered a very handy tool, commonly known as the rake, which made our lives 10 times easier. We raked and shoveled the greenhouse weeds. We then had to fill the greenhouses with the individual bags of soil. Keira had the GENIUS idea to create an assembly line in order to transport the bags more efficiently than if we had carried them individually. After several hours of work we broke for lunch. We had a delicious meal next to a local’s home. Because we didn’t finish filling bags of soil and the greenhouses with the bags we had to return to another half hour of hard work. But thankfully immediately proceeding the additional work, we hiked about 15 minutes to a beautiful waterfall that served as a refreshing swimming hole to locals and us. We jumped from a 20 foot cliff into the water many many times before having to return back to the compound. After dinner, we sat through a leadership lecture by our Director Cameron. We participated in activities that raised our self-awareness and increased our leadership toolset. We also had a lecture by Giorgio about human security. Fun filled day!
– Libby & Keira
La Grua is a community in the northern Dominican Republic, which is divided into two sectors by a road as well as a cultural barrier, the Dominican side and the Haitian squatter, which is locally called the “batey”. The Haitians were brought into La Grua for the sugar cane industry. When the sugar cane industry declined, their income was cut and they could not afford returning to Haiti. The team made a visit to La Grua and we were split into two groups. One went on a community tour to the Haitian squatter. We visited the river which is the only source of water for the residents, meaning which is also their bath water and drinking water. However, the riverbank is highly contaminated by garbage and oil. Then the group volunteered in picking up garbage in virtue of reducing the impact of environmental degradation. The kids living the batey also helped. The other group mixed cement and finished constructing parts of the bottle school. When the school is finished it will serve the locals as a school during the week and a community center during the weekend. While working we had the chance to interact with the local children, with dancing and music. The girls of the community loved to do the volunteers hair and take pictures with everyone. The whole day was wonderful and an experience we will never forget.
– Jaymie McMahon and Tso Shun Nam
Today we went back to La Grua and finished cementing the bottle school, this included the floors and walls.Many of the local residents appeared to offer their help and support. Half of the group went on a tour of the Haitian batee, where they spent about an hour picking up garage from a local field and playing with children. Some of the kids followed us back to the school and joined us for some fun. We had lunch at the school and watched the children dance and play. Many of the children seemed to love having the company around. We came back to a fun afternoon of beach and pool time. Later in the night, we had an interesting conversation on the economic divisions within the United States and within the world. We were all surprised to see the just how concentrated the wealth was amongst the population. One fact that particularly stuck was that the top one percent of Americans controlled forty percent of the national Gross Domestic Product.