Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Cavo’s house is built, local children are playing on the playground in the Los Brazos school, and the children of Batey La Union are living healthy lifestyles. These things only happened because of you and the work that you did during your time here in the Dominican Republic.
It’s totally amazing for me to think back to those dreadfully hot days in July when we were starting these projects. Not only were you all catalysts for change in the communities, but you also left a lasting impact here. Every time I walk past the blue colmado before the street, the Donya tells me that ‘she has fresh empanadas for the group of ladies.” The director at the Los Brazos school, keeps asking me to bring you all back because you “were faster than anybody else could be.”
I challenge you to take these experiences to heart. Know that you, indeed, made a change in the world and that this can continue. Use what you have learned about responsible, sustainable aid to fuel your passion and fight injustice and lapses in human security. Without a doubt my most entertaining group, use this power of performance to your advantage. Remember, no more bandaids! And, above all continue to be exceptional global citizens. Understand the vitality and ubiquity of health as a global issue and how interconnected the solutions are.
It would be out of character for me not to insert some sort of sappy 90s TV reference, so, in the words of Miss Frizzle from the magic school bus, “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”
Wishing you all the best,
The GLA & 7E Team
Summer Blog Posts
The horrid experience that is JFK was made much better by friendly faces in blue GLA shirts. We met in the airport and all got a nutritious breakfast of coffee to start our travels. The flight was easy and surprisingly short, but we were not expecting the heat and humidity of the Dominican Republic. Nonetheless, we marveled at the beauty of the country on the bus to the lodge. After a tour of the home base, we immediately got swimsuits on and headed to the beach. The beach was beautiful, the sand was soft, and the water was clear, although the waves were a little choppy. The next group of kids arrived when we got back, and we met our new roommates. Both groups A and B mingled by the pool while we waited for dinner. Dinner was a delicious meal of rice, beans, and chicken, accompanied by lots of fresh fruit. After dinner, we reviewed the rules and code of conduct, and got an overview of what the next thirteen days would entail.
-Ali and Kirsten
We started this morning bright and early with a fresh and yummy breakfast. Then, Group B headed into Las Canas where half the group was lead on a tour throughout the community. We got an in depth look of the community elementary school and got to explore a partially built house that will be the model for the house our group will begin building in the coming days. After our tour, we met back up with the other half of Group B who spent the first half of the morning doing a community diagnostic. We switched activities and went to new houses to really get in touch with what the community members recognized as their biggest needs. At about noon, we all headed back to Home Base where we enjoyed lunch. After lunch we compiled all the data that we collected during the community diagnostic and decided that one of the biggest needs in this community was for more recreation opportunities for kids. Based on this consensus, we will spend a few days creating playground equipment for the children of the community. During our free time we got to spend some time on the beach. The ocean was super refreshing and much needed after a morning of walking around Las Canas. After our time at the beach we had an interactive and practical Spanish lesson from Candy and Anali so that we can better communicate with locals when we encounter them. We finished the day with an introduction to the capstone project that we will spend time working on and researching for the rest of the term. The group is excited for an exciting hike tomorrow!
As an adventure day, we began with an early morning to which we have more or less adapted. With our “5 minutes early” mentality, we were able to take advantage of every opportunity that the beaches and waters of Sosua handed us. We took the first shift relaxing and playing on the resort, Playa Alicia. Lunch was a deviation from the norm where we mixed up our diet with the more familiar food of pizza. For the second half of the day, some snorkeled for the first time with the help of the more experienced members of the group. We packed onto a motorboat to reach our treat of going on a yacht for the day. Students leapt from the edges of the yacht and sufficiently wore ourselves out. We then embarked on the unfamiliar experience of bargaining. Most students struck deals on the souvenirs that will serve as a constant reminder of our adventures in the Dominican Republic. We ended the night with the eye-opening documentary, Poverty Inc. Many were fascinated by the truths presented by those who have seen the effects of charities and NGOs. The documentary prompted further discussion on the issues that were covered and the work we are doing. With a newly gained perspective, we are now ready to begin our first project.
Payton and Reagan
Today was our first official work day of the program! We split our large group into three smaller groups and each designed their own playground attraction. We traveled to Los Brazos Public School to begin the construction. Everybody put in 110% and kept the morale high all day long. One group designed a tire platform ramp, one group designed a rope wall and the last group put their heads together and designed a tire climbing mountain looking like a pyramid. This was all completed using sustainable, recyclable materials found in the surrounding communities. Since this was a herculean task, we will return tomorrow to put the finishing touches on the pieces. From there we returned to Home Base and traveled to the beach to get some much needed rest and relaxation. The relaxation turned in to a cultural dance party. Afterword’s, we had a Spanish lesson where we learned local foods and construction vocabulary to be effective communicators with the local builders. Dinner was delicious consisting of a wide variety of taco toppings. Dinner was soon followed by a lecture about the status of Global Health currently and the future of Global Health. The lecture was very inspiring and illustrated that culture can be both an advantage and a hindrance. All in all, today was great! We are really looking forward to tomorrow and seeing all of our hard work pay off in the completion of the playground.
Emma Smith and Aleecia Dodd
Today, we completed our playgrounds for Los Brazos. Throughout the process, the local children helped with the construction. During break-times, the children and students played games, such as volleyball, soccer, and Dominican games. We got to practice our Spanish when having conversations with all the local kids. The children greeted us with great enthusiasm and interest. A colorful fort and a rope climbing structure were created for the preschool and kindergarteners. The older elementary school kids had a large tire and rope climbing wall. They enjoyed our work and went on the finished projects. Back at the lodge, we had lectures on the global burden of disease and SMART goals, as well as a Spanish lesson on health vocabulary to help us in our health fair work tomorrow. Everyone learned a lot about Dominican customs, Spanish, and wellness concerns within the community.
Ian and Lisa
July 11, 2016
Today we went to the Health Fair, where we taught children of all ages how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth. We also took their pulse before and after exercising, which allowed us to see how much their heart rates goes up with exercise. Throughout all of the Health Fair, students were rotated into a work office with Dr. Kerole to take the height, weight, and age of the children as a way to get an average and compare it to the U.S. standard heights, weights, and ages of children. When we were finished we continued to interact with the children until it was time to leave. Later in day, we learned how to properly take blood pressure. Then, we continued with a water activity comparing developed communities with undeveloped communities. Depending on how developed each place was, the amount and how clean the water was changed. Then we had to decide if the water would go to industries, humans, or agriculture. We got dismissed early and can not wait to help the older kids tomorrow.
Eva and Lucy
Today was an interesting day to learn about global health through clinical medicine. Dr. Kerole was a great help in the second day of our health fair. We worked alongside older children and young teenagers, teaching them the benefits of brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and exercising.
The community of Playa Las Canas is a perfect learning environment. Many adults came to us about hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes; children came to the health fair often dehydrated and generally unhealthy. After the conclusion of the health fair, we enjoyed some staff verses students basketball and soccer game. Post-game we lunched on chicken stew, pineapple, and mango. We headed back to the Indalo Lodge to watch a film on the racist, Dominican society inspired by Trujillo persecuting Haitians. We are headed to bed, ready to experience the Haitian Bateys tomorrow.
-Henry & Zafir
Today we experienced the polar opposite sides of life in the Dominican Republic. We started off the day with a hearty meal of eggs and pancakes. Then, we hopped on a bus to see a local Haitian batey (a mostly impoverished community) called La Grua. Upon arrival, we noticed how different the living conditions were in comparison to the other less impoverished communities we have explored. Despite the children’s lack of clothing, shoes, and water, they greeted us with warm smiles. We were given a tour of the batey, played with the local children, and met the only college graduate from the community. We were taken aback by the sheer lack of resources available to the people living in the batey. We departed La Grua to enter an eco-tourist park in which all proceeds are donated back to the surrounding communities. While it was challenging to transition from witnessing the effects of extreme poverty to enjoying the tourist attractions of the beautiful island, we could not help but smile as we climbed, slid, jumped, and swam to seven uniquely gorgeous waterfalls. Tomorrow, we begin our three day project of working on a local man’s house as we build structurally sound walls, well ventilated kitchens, and functioning restrooms.
We are off to reapply bug spray and tuck ourselves into mosquito nets.
Lauren and Emma
July 14, 2016
Hi Parents! Today we started work on Cavo’s house, a structure assembled completely by GLA students over a course of 9 workdays total and 3 different programs. Our job consisted of filling walls with plastic bottles collected off the streets, securing them with chicken wire and finishing them off with cement. Blood, sweat and tears went into our work today. It started with the tears- there was a miscommunication between students and mentors and everyone ended up being woken up 30 minutes early (the horror). Unlucky we, as student leaders, were the ones that had to get everyone out of bed at 6:30 only to tell them 5 minutes later they could actually sleep until 7. We pleaded that they don’t shoot the messengers. The cause for sweat is obvious- it’s hot here! Finally the blood- as we learned the hard way, chicken wire is aggressive (sorry Mom if I come home with any new scars). Luckily all 24 of us are safe and sound and happy that we were able to make such an impactful difference in someone’s life. Thanks for sending us down here! Love, your kids <3 (specifically your leaders of the day Ellie and Kat)
Today was our second day working at Cavo’s house. Despite the extreme humidity and heat, we persevered and were able to make significant progress on the house. With only one day left to work on the house, we are confident that we will reach our goals. After a delicious lunch and a brief work period, we embarked on our second cultural surprise. Today, our cultural surprise consisted of visiting a local coconut cookie “factory” and also visiting a local arepita chef. While at first there was some disappointment as we could not eat the cookies right away, they were definitely worth the wait and many students will be bringing some home! We ended the day working on our capstone projects that we will be presenting tomorrow night and a lecture on hunger and malnutrition in developing nations. All in all we all had a great day working on Cavo’s house and learning more about the local culture here in Las Canas! – Margot (surprisingly still alive) and Elizabeth
After an early morning wakeup call, we ate a great breakfast full of eggs, cereal, fruit and a few pieces of toast. Today being our last work day, we traveled to Cavo’s house for the last time. We worked hard to finish bottling and cementing the upper parts of the roof. With limited resources and two ladders, we worked extra hard to meet our goal and get as much work done as we could. After working hard, we took a break for lunch were we had both meat and vegetarian options in rice, multiple vegetables and lots of fruit! After lunch we continued on in our work and completed our goal. The house looks great and we can’t wait for the day Cavo and his grandson, Johnthan, are able to move in. Go Group B! At the end of our work, Cavo delivered our last cultural surprise. He and the fellow workers gave us each a fresh coconut that we all drank and ate from. What a treat! We made our last journey home and enjoyed a little free time before dinner. Dinner consisted of fried chicken and yummy pasta! After we enjoyed dinner we finished up our CAP projects. Then proceeded to join both Group A and Group B and share our projects. We enjoyed each project and are excited to finish our adventure with zip lining!
Sincerely Sequoia and Taylor