Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
It’s Ben! I hope you’re all doing well, and haven’t forgotten me or the team yet! My summer in the DR is wrapped up and now I have a chance to reflect on the great memories we built together.
We finally finished and painted the house in Las Canas (we went with a sky blue colour) and everyone is moved in, the water tank in La Grua is now completed and the whole community now has water access.
You guys absolutely killed it mixing concrete in La Grua, that was my stand-out ‘best work day’ of the whole summer, do your muscles still hurt thinking back?
So many big personalities, so many great memories, so little sleep… See you next year?
Rise up lights forever,
Summer Blog Posts
Today, students from near and far were brought together for a life changing experience. Upon departing from for home towns, we encountered a wide range of emotions throughout our travels. For many of us, we embarked on a solo mission to find a greater purpose. The numerous hours of preparation and anticipation that led up to this opportunity came to a close when we landed in the Dominican Republic. We were greeted by fresh faces upon our arrival. It was not long until we established new relationships with other students, mentors, and directors. Traveling through the local town, we discovered that we were about to submerge ourselves in a culture much different from our own. As motorcycles flew by and locals continued their daily grind we wove our way though the narrow, congested streets to finally make it to the home base.
(Late arrivals: Alanna S., Lucy T., Paige F., Robert (Logan) C., and Emma)
As we looked upon the shoreline decorated with palm trees, we made our way over to the crashing waves. The turquoise water refreshed our sweaty, smelly bodies that were covered from head to toe as a result of excruciating heat. We explored our huts and settled into our new space. We had some free time to start forming new friendships with the other students within our program. At 6:00, we gathered for a delicious home made meal. Next on the agenda was the orientation in which we formed our goals for the duration of the trip. We took a group photo and headed off to bed. We are looking forward for the adventures ahead.
Caitlin Carro & Bridget Ruskey
July 16, 2016
Hola fam, today was tubular. First, we ate breakfast #morninggainz. Next, we walked to a local community and assisted in building a house made out of plastic bottles. We broke into 5 groups, 3 mixed cement, 1 cut and put up the framing wire and 1 leveled the foundation of the house. To make concrete we mixed water, sand and cement together with shovels. We used the cement to coat over the water bottle structure and to surround the garden, Later, we assisted in placing the bottles in the wire and helped build a garden. Some benefits of using plastic bottles include helping reduce littering/pollution and serve as an insulation system. We also played with some local children and practiced our Spanish. Next, we headed back to home base for some free time. Some people hit up the beach and others chilled around home base. We had a lecture about human securities which was very informative and interesting. Finally, we ate dinner as a squad and headed to the beach for some stargazing. Overall today was a great first day of work and we made some great memories.
From the leaders of the day today,
Remi, Campbell, and Naomi
July 17, 2016
Fresh mango, sizzling bacon, and plantains straight from the trees. This is part of the traditional Dominican meal that was prepared for our breakfast today. Shortly after, we left for Las Cuevas. Jammin’ local tunes and making more friends, every minute was worth the drive. When we got there, we immediately got to work. Some were planting trees for reforestation, helping the environment and community, providing long term benefits. Throughout this experience, we had the opportunity to share special moments with the local kids in the surrounding river. Their smiling faces brightened our day. While some were doing that, others safely jumped from high heights into the refreshing, clear waters of a hidden cave.
Next, we visited a beautiful beach, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch from a cabana overlooking Rob surf. Lindsey swears she saw a turtle that swam up to her feet, and it was apparently this big “0”. We then came back to Home Base to either go to the beach where the waves were giant or swim in the pool in the relaxing atmosphere.
We met with our mentor groups to reflect on our days and adventures. After about an hour, we devoured Mexican Night. We all ate amazing forget that we will never forget like tacos and salsa. A lecture was last (but not least) on our schedule for the day. We learned techniques on business leadership skills that we will be able to use in the future.
As the day wound down, (2 hours and many laughs later) we constructed this blog which we hope you enjoy.
-Lindsey Bromm, Olivia Phillips, Alex Kamen, and Blake Sullivan
July 19, 2016
Today we went to La Grua and helped the Dominican and Haitian community construct a water tank. Our goal was to help the locals mix 25 bags of cement. Not only did we accomplish our goal, we exceeded it by another bag. Throughout our time working with the locals, we were able to experience a culture that differs vastly from our own, which opened our eyes to the struggles that individuals face throughout developing countries around the world. As a result, we gained a greater appreciation for the amenities we are fortunate to have, but often take advantage of.
Aside from spending our time mixing cement and interacting with Dominican locals, we had the opportunity to visit a batey–a settlement around a sugar mill. The water tank we created is essential to the community in a multitude of ways because the only source of water the locals had access to previously was a highly polluted river that resulted in diseases and infections due to waste runoff and bacteria from the major cities. Overall, today’s experience rewarded us with a more socially conscious outlook on the world, an increased awareness of its harsh realities, and a fulfilling ability to help others.
July 19, 2016
Today, we went to Sosua Beach. We split up into two groups and half of us went shopping in the community while the other group went snorkeling and jumping off the boats. Before we did any of that, we went swimming in the ocean and played volleyball as well as did fun water activities. We were NOT allowed to jump off the cliffs, although we did look on as the locals did so. When we went to the shops, we bartered with the locals and bought different items for ourselves and our families. We got plenty of great, locally made food and interesting souvenirs.
July 21, 2016
To start off the day, we had a breakfast consisting of toast, eggs, and bacon cooked by the Donas. Following this, we started the 25 minute walk over to Las Canas where we continued the bottle house for a family of nine. When we got there, we split into four groups and started the difficult tasks presented to us. We mixed cement, continued to bottle the house, and cut wire to but the bottles in. We use bottles on the house for insulation, and it is a great form of recycling being that there are many bottles laying on the street of the Dominican Republic. It was an extremely hot and humid day outside, and we were very lucky when it began to rain down on us during work. At around 2, we started the walk back to the lodge. We walked along the beach and got to enjoy the views on the way home. Once we returned, a group headed to the beach, and some stayed back to shower because we were full of cement and mud from the work site. We ended the day with a delicious meal cooked by the Donas, and a lecture on leadership and goals by Cameron.
Today was a very eventful day! It was the most challenging part of the trip for many of us, as we hiked 6 miles up and down the Brison area. The hike began when we toured a small village within the mountain. We learned about their environmental security, in that they produce most of their own food every day and do not rely on others. Every step up the mountain, the scenery was continually more breathtaking. Although many of us were “dying” we came to the realization that many people have to do this every day, including: many children on their way to school and pregnant women. When we finally reached the top of the mountain, we were greeted by Dona Maxima and a delicious lunch. This consisted of rice(as always), beans, veggies, fruits, and a very nice surprise-ice cream from a very kind Haitian man! Hiking was a great way to spend one of our last days together and we’re looking forward to tomorrow. We know you’re all wondering- mom I’m okay!