Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our GHI, Dominican Republic trip ended! I can still remember the delicious Sancocho, the juicy pineapples and the sweet juices that our amazing chefs prepared for us.
Often times, it seems like yesterday that we were swimming in the lodge pool, meeting a lot of people in the brigades, mixing cement, and digging and digging for the families in las Canas and the water tank in Cano Dulce. You’re probably back in school (or starting college!) but we wanted you to know that here in the Dominican Republic we are still thinking of you and the impact we made this summer together.
You all worked really hard at the service site, in las Canas and in Cano Dulce, so much sweat and laughter during those long days but the impact you made is what you should be proud of. We achieved a lot! Your commitment and hard work left an impact in the humble people of Las Canas. I am sure those kids will remember the new english words you taught them, and the families that we constructed the bathroom for, they will always think of you as hard workers.
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together here! We experienced the beauty of the Dominican Republic snorkeling in crystal clear waters in Sosua, swimming in ancient Cenotes at Dudu Lagoon and getting an exfoliating bath in Rio Yasica.
Our evenings were full of activities, do you remember the leadership activity every day?. We also get to know each other in our nightly mentor groups,
Remember our OMG -One Meaningful Goal-?
“Become global citizens by recruiting friends and peers to participate in service projects and/or trips”
A few memorable moments from this session:
– All the birthdays and cake we had from day one till the last day (and Louben’s birthday every day!)
– The bonfire at the beach on our last day
– Hearing from Loubens and Junior about their personal stories on the Divided Island activity.
– Spending time in the hammocks (until they broke) every afternoon.
And so much more… We hope that the memories we shared stayed and continue to impact you as if was the first day!
Brayan, Naomi, Olivia, Joselin, Carlos, Loubens & Junior
Monday July 29, 2019
Buenas noches from the land of palm trees!! This is the mentors for the GHI group!
All the kids made it safe and sound to our beautiful lodge in Las Canas, a little community in the north shore of the island of Hispaniola.
We visited the local beach, played some icebreakers and had the chance to swim in the pool right before dinner.. We enjoyed, as Marc Anthony would say, un arroz con habichuelas and after introductions and orientation the kids are happily sleeping now.
From now on, the Leaders of the Day a.k.a your daughters and sons will be in charge of writing the blog every night.
We are very excited for our very first service day tomorrow!!
Wednesday July 31, 2019
¡Hola familias! This is our Day 3 Blog:
Today groups 1 and 2 headed to a local community to help with a medical clinic for the locals. Groups 3 and 4 worked with 7 elements on making a bathroom for a family in Las Canas. Although it was hot out, the GLA students were excited for their first opportunity to help out on their first GLA service activity.
Also, both groups interacted with the local communities on a very personal level. The students in the clinic helped with registration and some even scribed for the local doctor, they translated words from Spanish to English. Especially Ashley in group 1 translated for a community leader at the brigades to relay his message of thanks to the GLA and 7 Elements volunteers. Additionally, the students in Las Canas worked on building a bathroom for a family, played with local children, and visited the beach.
All together, it was a great start to the two weeks and today’s leaders (Diana, Grace, and Jenna) tried their best to lead an activity with the game Mafia. Many students spent time in the pool and bonded through friendship bracelets. Overall, it was a solid start to the week and a fun way for students to interact, integrate, and spend quality time both together and with local members of the Dominican community.
– by Diana, Grace, and Jenna
Thursday August 1, 2019
Today groups 1 and 2 went to Las Canas to continue building the bathrooms and digging a hole for the septic tank. During breaks the students loved playing soccer with the local children. It was really hot out but everyone was able to persevere and we’re really proud of all the good work we got done.
Groups 3 and 4 went on the medical brigrade and found the work so fulfilling and eye opening. We had so much fun with all of the little kids who were running around with the biggest smiles on their faces, and loved serving the community together. Being primarily Haitian, the community spoke Creole and Spanish. For lunch, the groups took shifts eating burritos After finishing at the medical brigade, we toured the local town before heading back to the home base.
Friday August 2, 2019
Today we went on a 30 minute boat ride on the river to the beach. The scenery was amazing with many animals like cows and many palm trees. We also saw residences along the river enjoying their day.
After the boat ride, we arrived on the beach and and the weather was beautiful and sunny. The water was warm and clear with clay to exfoliate our skin. We spent some free time there and walked to a nearby restaurant as a group.
We were served rice and beans, chicken and pasta which the restaurant served us and had a choice of tropical pina coladas or coconut water to purchase, which made the experience more unique.
After the restaurant we had more free time on the beach and then took the boat ride back.
We got the chance to stop at a supermarket on the way back to home base to purchase snacks and drinks etc.
At 7pm, we walked to the beach and saw the sunset together while taking photos. We ended a day with a lecture on Infectious disease
Leaders of the day:
Marlen, Kyra and Chris
Saturday August 3, 2019
Today, mentor groups one and three took a van to one of the local communities and set up a medical brigade. The students went to their designated stations, such as registration, vitals, interview, pharmacy, etc. and were able to assist in the process of getting the individuals in the community to see the doctor. Once the patients had seen the doctor they made their way to the pharmacy located inside a school house. At the pharmacy the students put the prescribed medication in a paper bag and a GLA mentor acted as a translator and described the directions for each medication. Each student left the medical brigade knowing that they had done something simple, yet significant, and were able to impact individuals in a positive way.
Our lecture activity today was the divided island movie. The movie explained the division between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The racism and hatred between the two connected countries which create different socioeconomic issues are laid out. Our local directors, Junior, Lubenz, and Walner all explained their personal journeys and stories as they are all of Haitian descent. It was a very eye opening experience which gives students insight into the dynamics of developing countries.
Today we worked on two bathrooms. In one village we dug a hole that will in the end be 6 feet deep. In the other village we cemented a bathroom that we worked on earlier in the week. During our breaks we were able to play soccer with the kids. The day was overall really fun and epic.
Sunday August 4, 2019
Today, groups 1 and 3 went to the community to finish the bathroom and continue the septic tank projects and groups 2 and 4 participated on other brigade in a local community.
We were able to finish cementing the bathroom walls, and got a chance to play with some of the local kids on break. We got so much done today despite the heat and are really proud of how we finished the bathroom. We also reached 4 and half feet in the septic tank hole, meaning we only have to dig another 1 and half feet.
As leaders of the day, we decided that today everyone would turn in their phones from 4-8:30 in order to connect more with each other and our surroundings and be more mindful. Although many people were hesitant at the beginning, in the end we believe that almost everyone enjoyed being unplugged for a few hours.
We also learned a lot today, as the lecture was on common health dilemmas. We were all pushed to step into uncomfortable and complicated medical situations, and had to consider different sustainable and ethical solutions. This was very eye opening and educational and we enjoyed it very much.
another day another brigade
saving the world day by day
working away without pay
another day another brigade
It was also Sophia and Anya’s birthday so we celebrated them today
-Bella, Ally, and Zac
Monday August 5, 2019
Today we woke up super early and had breakfast to start the day with lots of energy!
We drove for 10 min to the Caño Dulce community and worked on the water tank that will provide running water for 90 families in the area. The community got named after the little creek that crosses it but due to the severe drought it is now dry. This increased the risk of living and sanitation in the community.
Our goal was to build a tank and dig trenches for the distribution of water. The tank is located on top of a hill, so gravity will allow the water to easily be piped back down to the community.
We started our work with a community assessment, visiting finished projects and we were introduced to some of the locals that were beneficiaries from the bathroom bottle programs earlier this summer. We rotated in many stations such as carrying cement to the top, mixing cement and helping the mason, digging the trench, and a looooooong human chain to pass along buckets and tools.
After we got all the cement to the top of the hill we had to send up cinder blocks. During the assembly line we all drank lots of water and energy packets. The kids were so nice and helped us clean the shovels afterwards. When we got home we had pool time and after we had an activity of meditation on the beach!!
Tonight we went into our mentor groups and some of the groups went to the beach and saw a shooting star!! Tomorrow there is a run at 7:30 that anyone can go to and Carlos will be leading the run on the beach!!
– by Eva, Ziyan, and Mallory
Tuesday August 6, 2019
Today we went to Dudú Lagoon, which is a super clear lagoon here in the DR! We jumped into the lagoon and played beach volleyball. The water was super clear and refreshing! We also ate lunch at a restaurant at the lagoon.
After lunch we went to Playa Preciosa, which is a picture-perfect beach. There were cool vendors where we bought jewelry and got our hair braided (almost everyone got a braid)! We hung out at the beach and had a friend ceremony for Olivia and Bryan (two counselors). For the rest of the time at the beach, we enjoy jumping over waves, taking pictures, and having fun in the sun. Luckily, it didn’t start raining until we got back to the lodge.
After dinner we participated in a capstone lecture. Meaning, we were put into groups where we chose one of five topics regarding health concerns in the Dominican Republic. Some examples are respiratory illness and traffic concerns. Each group then created a poster and presentation about their topic. This included why it was sustainable, a plan of action, and how it would work. The groups competed to win a million dollar grant. The winners were “Dominican Initiative for Mother Protection” and “Pulmones of the DR.”
Sophia, Destiny, and Sarah
Wednesday August 7, 2019
¡Que lo que!
The GLA students spent today finishing up the water tank in the Caño Dulce community. Despite the hot weather and sun, we were incredibly resilient and did a great job helping the community gain access to clean water. After work on the water tank, Johnny, a community leader, gave us a tour of his bee garden. He showed us how to harvest honey which was really cool.
Then the group went to get ice cream from a shop in the community. That the ice cream was delicious!. After a long day in the village we came back to the lodge, some sooner than others due to heat related issues, and enjoyed a much needed break to socialize and sleep.
Once we finished dinner we did a group activity on the beach and saw a beautiful sunset. We ended our day with a dance party filled with the Dominican bachata, merengue and other modern songs. Overall a great day 10 and we can’t wait to experience our last few days of the trip!
– by Meaghan, Helen, and Elizabeth
Thursday August 8, 2019
Mentor groups 2&3 went to work on the septic tank/bathroom today. Half of us sanded down the soft concrete with rocks, making it so there were no bumps or rough spots. Then we painted the sanded concrete walls of the bathroom blue. We started making concrete to lay on the floor of the bathroom. As this was happening the other half of the group worked at the septic tank. At the septic tank, we finished digging the hole until it was deep enough for the mason to start with cinder blocks. Then carried cinder blocks and mixed concrete to hold together the blocks.
Today groups 1 and 4 had “vitamin distribution” for our service. It was pretty much the same as the brigade days, since we had the same jobs. We saw and treated 50 patients including young mothers, babies, toddlers, a blind man, etc. We work in different stations, including vitals, interview, pharmacy, doctor, and registration.
Today the positions were as follows:
Runners: Eva, Sarah
Height and weight: Anya and Rebecca
Pharmacy: Zac, Jenna, Kyler
Doctor: McKenzie, Marlen
Registration: Leo, Meaghan, Helen
Interview: Rahul, Bella, Diana
Overall, it was a very successful and fun day with the vitamin distribution group. We worked through language barriers with a mixture of French, Spanish, and Creole speakers. The vitals team struggled with two small kids that were adamant about not having their heart rate tested.
We tried many different ways to distract them with drawings, pens, and other miscellaneous things but our attempts were fruitless. It was a frustrating yet comedic experience. The group became familiar with the local dogs, one of whom we nicknamed “Chaco.” After we were all done with our stations we waited for the doctor to finish up with the patients.
In the meantime, we enjoyed a few games together, playing on the swings, and socializing with the local children. We were very impressed with one boy who surprised us with fluent English, although he failed to tell Leo this before registration. Poor Leo struggled the whole time to converse in Spanish, completely oblivious to the fact the boy could speak perfect English.
Then, when we got back to the lodge we had pool time from 4-5, then we had free time until dinner. We had amazing tacos. Then, we had free time until our lecture about entrepreneurship and did an activity on the projects around the world and we had to decide if they would work or would not work based on the information provided.
At the end of the night, in our free time, the group shared a strange but wonderful moment, when we were all on the ground laughing together.
-by Dani, Charlotte and Maddie
Tiday groups 1 and 4 went to the community of Caño Dulce and worked on finishing the bottle house, this wasn’t our project but we had already finished the septic tank and the bathroom. The bathroom was built for a family who did not have a restroom in their home. The septic tank was built so that the houses surrounding could have a safe way to keep their waste without it running into their drinking water, potentially causing diarrheal infections. these two groups painted two rooms of the almost finished bottle house bright blue!
Because it was our last day coming into these communities, it was really fulfilling to know what we did had helped so many people, but it was also sad to know we were done visiting and bonding with the people we have met along the way. finally! Junior and the mason at the bottle house had a rap battle! it was intense, junior called the mason a old lady and the mason called junior a worm. Overall it was a great day!!!
Also, groups 2 and 3 went to the clinic for the last time. We were able to help 49 people in the community of Cuesta Barrosa, it was really meaningful to help almost 50 people and to know that we had done this so many times before as well. Overall, it was a really great learning experience to treat patients in a clinic like setting, and to experience helping others even with a language barrier.
-Leo, Ashley, and Ellie
Saturday August 10, 2019
Today, with our exciting adventure coming to an end, we went on our final excursion. We started off the day with breakfast, then hopped on the bus and headed to Sosua beach. When we got to the beach we went on some smaller boats that took us to a yacht. We boarded the yacht, and went to a coral reef farther out in the ocean. We then took turns jumping off the boat into the ocean and swam off with our mentors to see the beautiful coral reefs.
Afterwards, we were treated to pizza for lunch along with piña coladas, frozen lemonade and strawberry daiquiris! We also spent some time on the beach and shopped around the town. When we came back to the base, we had dinner and walked to the beach afterward to be treated with a bonfire and marshmallows as our last hurrah!
Overall, we all had an amazing time on this trip and made some great friendships that will last a lifetime!
Also, Happy Birthday to Maddie Murphy, and Happy Birthday to Zac Braddy on the 11th!
-Maddie Murphy, Abby Tammaro, and Helena Hanna