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 all moved in, the water tank in La Grua is now completed and the whole community now has water access!
Let me start by saying… OMG I LOVE YOU GUYS!! Haha! I think you were my favourite group of the summer (don’t tell the other groups), by far the most multinational group and always insisting on time to bond, you all showed so much initiative in planning that and making time for it.
I wanted to thank you for giving me an opportunity to finally use my diving skills for good – by rescuing a gopro from the bottom of Las Cuevas (stealing James’ Glory… Sorry James)
I hope to see you all again soon. You helped me to remember; that if we are going to make it in the future, the world does not need more successful people, we need more empathetic, supportive, and BEAUTIFUL people (you guys!).
Your Director and friend,
Dave and Ricardo ‘discussing’ the stock market was maybe the highlight of my life!
Summer Blog Posts
After arriving from Puerto Plata and Santiago airports, students had their first experience of Las Canas beach and settled into their home for the next 10 days Indalo lodge.
We then all shared a dinner and some of our expectations for our time together before going trough an orientation and cooling off in the pool before bed.
Late Arrival (Aubrey) Candidly snapped as she arrived in the middle of the night!
Today was the first day of service and we started working on the construction of a bottle house for a family of 9 in the community of Las Canas. All the students were super excited to help this family on their new home. We started working at 9:00 and the worked consisted of making cement, attaching bottles to the walls and cementing them. The group dynamic was great and everyone was ready to work with an awesome positive attitude.
For lunch we had pasta, chicken, vegetables and fruit cooked by the Dona. After finishing our work we went back to Home Base and to the beach.At the beach, we interacted with locals and one of them climbed up a tree and picked coconuts.
After dinner, we had an engaging lecture about Human Security with Giorgio and that sparked great thinking and consequential discussion.
Today we traveled to Las Cuevas, a local community that is home to a national monument where deforestation is actively occurring. In order to combat these environmental problems facing the community we split into three groups to complete the following tasks: leveling the ground in preparation for planting the mangrove trees, digging holes for the seedlings, and lastly planting the trees.
After a few hours of tedious work in the sun, the locals brought us to a secluded cave in the community. We tested our limits and broke through our comfort zones by jumping into the deep water below. Although some of us had a difficult time getting past the nerves, we literally jumped in feet first.
After cooling off in “La Cueva,” we rode the bus to “Playa Encuentro” for lunch and beach time. On the way there, we viewed aspects of the neighboring communities, which were full of color and vibrant culture. Upon arrival we ate lunch overlooking a beautiful ocean view. After the delicious lunch our mentors brought us to the *safe* part of the water to swim. After swimming, taking pictures and videos, and playing many fun beach games, we returned to our home base with big smiles.
This evening we spent time relaxing and bonding in the pool and at dinner. After dinner, Giorgio continued his presentation about Human Security, with an emphasis on environmental security and other aspects of the environment. Lastly we met with our mentor groups for the first time and reflected on the day, why we chose to come here, and the ideas presented to us tonight in the lecture.
Overall, the day was amazing and filled with service, excitement, and new experiences. We cannot wait for the rest of the trip!!
July 5, 2016
Today, we returned to the bottle house. It was a hot, sunny day and we continued working on the cement and walls of the house. We had an even better attitude than the days before and we worked really hard to complete cementing all the walls. Everyone from the neighborhood and the family of nine, who we are making the house for, all came and helped finish the job. Once again, Dona cooked us a fantastic lunch of rice and pork, along with delicious fruit.
After a sweaty, dirty and fulfilled day of working, we all headed to the beach to cool off and enjoyed the relaxation of the ocean. After that, we enjoyed some cooking lessons and made plantains. This gave us a behind the scenes look at the meals we eat everyday.
To end off the AMAZING day, we learned about economic security and how the reality we face is worse then ever imaginable. The difference between what the world we think is and the ideal world is greater than what we thought. Overall, it was an intriguing and lesson-filled lecture that taught us a lot about our economy.
Can’t wait for the rest of the week!!
July 6 – Day 5
Today we traveled to Sosua Beach, which was created by a massive hurricane in the year 2004 and is currently in the process of further growth. This was more of a reward day in the terms that we were able to enjoy the rich and warm Dominican culture first hand.
Our first group activity was beach volleyball where we were joined by some friendly locals, one being the tallest man we have seen in the DR yet (6’7). After which, we enjoyed a swim in the blue sea, then ate some pizza kindly brought to us by the mentors.
It was then time to board the ‘Viking 48’ to be taken further east to the snorkeling ground where we dun saw sum fishies. It was rather different from what any of us are either accustomed or what we were expecting; In the way that the water was much deeper and more abundant in wildlife than previously anticipated.
After a pretty decent shopping sesh we scampered back on to the bus and set off on our dozy ride home. Upon arrival we went about our own businesses until our reunion under the thatched open air structure of wisdom the mentors call ‘The Hut’. After a brief lecture and a 51 minute documentary on the relationship between the Haitian and Dominican cultures we all retire to our own bunks after a brilliantly relaxing yet exciting day.
James van Wyk
Urmila Budhrani Dadlani
July 7, 2016 – Day 6
On the sixth day of our adventure, we rose to a lovely Dominican sunrise and broke our fasts with a scrumptious meal prepared by the delightful senoritas in the kitchen. After breakfast, we departed on a bus excursion to the Batey of La Grua. The Batey is a community with mixed ethnic groups of both Haitians and Dominicans. The resident Haitians of the community are what are known as a stateless people, in that they have no citizenship in either country.
At La Grua, we were tasked with digging the trench that will in time come to house a large water tank for the entire community. We laboured enthusiastically creating a circular hole at the hilltop. After making significant progress, we had lunch at the community center. Afterwards, we did some detailing on our hole, and then proceeded to tour the Haitian part of the community. The Haitian portion was strongly affected by economic instability and an overall poor quality of life. Though hard to see, we learned from Liv more about the situation that had lead to these circumstances, all the while, playing with adorable children like Jobi.
We then loaded up the bus and departed for our home away from home. After another pilgrimage, we had some down time to hang around the compound. This was followed by dinner, and subsequently a speech on leadership, as well as a video about the influence of consumerism on Human Security. To wrap up the evening, we partook in a group bonding session. Laughs were had, tears were shed, all in all, a good day.
Signed the best leaders of the day as of yet,
Today we woke up earlier than usual. This was to take on our long bus ride to hike Brison. Brison is a large mountain with a number of communities scattered up the trail. The mountain was home to a variety of vegetation, animals, and people. The hike would be approximately 3 miles, uphill most of the way.
After the 2 hour bus ride, we unpacked our equipment and set off up the hillside. On the way up, we made a number of stops to learn about the community and its reliance on agriculture. We were informed about “Viveros’ which are small gardens that grow a variety of different plants. We continued up the mountain, stopping at various locations to learn more about the community and the environment around us.The hike continued for 2 hours before we reached our destination, the house on the top of the hill.
After arriving at the top, we were treated to a local meal including rice, chicken, fresh fruit, and insanely hot peppers. A handful of students ate these peppers, only to find out that they were the hottest thing nearly anybody had eaten. After we finished eating, we enjoyed the absolutely stunning view from the top of the mountain. We took a group picture and then began our trek back down the hill.
The hike down was much easier as it was mostly downhill. Halfway down we stopped and planted passion fruit vine seedlings in the community and continued on our way. When we made it to the bottom we were treated to cold refreshments, and then loaded up the bus and began the drive back.
All in all, the trip was a great success. The students learned about the Dominican community and had an opportunity to experience the environmental struggles of the everyday Brison resident.
Today we woke up to a delicious Dominican breakfast. We walked along the rode admiring the Dominican wildlife and prepared for our last day of service work. It was our final day working on the Bottle House at Las Canas. We connected with the children and the entire family for which we were building the house. As we built onto the Bottle House, we built onto our group relationship as well.
We fell into our usual routine of making concrete and building onto the interior of the house. The leaders of the day split everyone up into three groups and each group put their skills to work helping to construct the home. Although the work was difficult with the hot weather and the rain, the group remained positive and continued to work hard on the construction of the home throughout the day.
After many days working on the home we were finally able to place the final bottle in the bottle house and finish applying the concrete. Everyone was proud to see the work that we had accomplished during our time working at the home and we cannot wait to see the impact that it will have on the family.
Everyone was exhausted from working on the bottle house for most of the day, so we took a relaxing break at home base. Everyone was happy to reflect on all the service work that we have done over the course of the trip and we are proud of all that we have accomplished.
July 10, 2016
Today we traveled to Dudu Lagoon and Playa Preciosa. It was our last full day on the island and we can truly say we had a blast! At Dudu we had the chance to zip line and cliff jump into the lagoon, as well as visit a dry and wet cave. Other than that we played volleyball on the beach and enjoyed a great lunch at the restaurant.
After enjoying our time at Dudu Lagoon, we continued to Playa Preciosa. Playa me Preciosa is a gorgeous beach with turquoise waters. Everyone had a great time swimming at the beach and tackling the rough waves of the beach.
Following dinner, and a final walk along the beach, we danced the night away at Judy’s. Spanish dance music flowed from the speaks as we danced on the front patio with new Dominican friends. After the final song we enjoyed a bunk talent show under the stars.
It’s been a busy, inspiring, and educational 10 days, and we are sure that none of will ever forget it!