Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Cavo’s house is built, local children are playing on the playground in the Las Canas school, and the children of Los Brazos 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 early 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 and one gentleman.” Jenny, the director at the Las Canas school, keeps asking me to “make the caterpillar longer, or make another one because there is not enough space for all of the children to play on it at once.”
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. As my loudest group, your voices can be heard. “Chicas, never be afraid” to ask the controversial questions and find the root of the problem. 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
My GLA experience started today in Miami when I met ten friendly faces at the gate. That was followed by an easy flight, a quick run through customs, and an interesting drive to the lodge. As soon as I dropped off my stuff in my room, not only did I realize that it is even hotter and more humid than Texas, my home, but also that the Dominican Republic is a more beautiful country than I imagined.
After taking a tour around the compound and meeting the three dogs, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar- so cleverly named- the group decided to take an excursion down to the beach. Although the surf was a little rough and somewhat forceful, the beach was nonetheless gorgeous.
After the beach, dinner was served and it was more delicious than I was expecting. Dinner was succeeded by a quick run through of the rules and itinerary which was followed by a nice cold shower with a quite challenging shower head.
Hopefully, I will get a good night’s rest and be ready for tomorrow’s activities.
Today was amazing. We saw many families dispersed throughout a community. The community did not have the same conditions as we do back home. They struggled to do something that we in the United States take for granted. They went through their daily lives, and we took it as a tour through a well air-conditioned museum behind that boring tour guide. But really we were here—in real life—no computer screen in between us. And our guides were not boring. Since this was so real we were able to see the things that actually goes on in developing countries. This was extremely important to see because trying to become a doctor with no actual field work is something out of a fairy tale. It just makes more sense to connect with the world around you and to give back.
I volunteered to be the student leader the previous night. Everybody ate a delicious breakfast together, we had the options of toast, cheese, scrambled eggs with veggies, and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was nothing like the one we have in America. This one is beyond words; it is so sweet and tasty. After breakfast, we walked to the community. As we were walking, we interacted with the locals and greeted them as we walked by. We also had discussions where we got to know each other people. As soon as we reached the community, everybody was so interactive and welcoming. Meg and Rakesh gave us guide lines and a guide to the language, Spanish. We took a survey about the health conditions of the houses, especially for the water that they use. In the end, we asked them what they could like to see change within the community and if they are willing to help. This was an amazing opportunity because it gave us a chance to interact with the locals. It is one thing to hear about the problems but it is another to see it in person. Having the opportunity to see what the locals deal with, and it does vary- some have it good and some have it very bad. The thing that really opened my eyes was how appreciative they are…some have so little yet their hearts are so big and while I was interacting with them, I really saw the kindness in their eyes. They were so happy to have me there and I was so happy to be there. No matter what sacrifice I have to make for this, it will be worth it because the locals are SO grateful. It is day two and I have already had my mind opened to a new mindset. I can’t wait to see what this program continues to teach me and the others! We’re all so determined and ambitious about all the experiences we will have.
Wake up at 6:30. Breakfast at 7:00. Leave at 7:30!!! 3 miles up the mountain, 3 miles down, hot weather, sweat, we know what you’re thinking J, but we actually had fun! Of course today was a workout, but our directors, Rakesh and Meg, along with David, the local director, posed engaging questions and motivated us to keep moving. They asked what and who made all the ridges on the mountains? “Animals”. Were we having a tough time? Yes – Remember people walk up and down this mountain every day in order to go to school, get water, and trade; and of course the continuous ”DRINK WATER!” We also frequently and simultaneously screamed “MOTO!” to warn each other about an oncoming motorcycle or vehicle.
We had the chance to visit people’s homes and see how they cook their food, were offered passion fruit which we very much enjoyed eating, and had the experience of eating local food for lunch, prepared for us by the community, once we reached Brison, the near the top of the mountain. We planted cacao and passion fruit seeds for the community to use in the future. All in all an incredible experience with beautiful views (shout-out to my Papa)! Your children are thinking of you, and even if they weren’t able to contact you, they wish you a wonderful FATHERS’ DAY!!! To all the families, we seem to all be enjoying this trip a lot; I know I certainly am, although the mosquitoes are eating away at me…
Lots of love,
On our fourth official day as members of the GHI program, we started our first formal service project. We began working on a house for a member of the community, utilizing recycled bottles instead of cinderblocks. We weren’t alone in our service, however, as members of the community, including those who will live in the house, helped us. Many helpers were children, and though the little hands could not stack many bottles inside the walls, their bright smiles certainly kept morale up.
Our service today felt meaningful and reminded me, personally, of everything that encouraged me to take this trip. We experienced the culture of the Dominican while making our own mark in the community. If nothing else, we made some kids laugh with our broken Spanish. Through the hammers and the 2 by 4’s, we all learned what it means to help something much bigger than yourself.
My personal highlights of the day:
· Playing slaps with Dominican kids
·Turning a lesson about water scarcity into a theoretical challenge to smuggle water for dying people
· Learning how to handle all kinds of spiders
·When washing our water bottles turned into an all-out laugh fiesta
-Carly Lindsay, proud LOD
As foreigners in the Dominican Republic, we are unfamiliar with the traditions and culture that is custom to this country. Fortunately, today was filled with exposure to examples of the way of life here. On our first stop, we encountered an empanada-making woman who gave us a step by step look on how to make the delicious treat. From the basic ingredients to the finished product, we were all enthralled by each step and the ease in which she made the food. (Trying it was another high of the day!).
After this, we met fishermen and were taught how they fish using various tools, such as handmade nets or harpoons. We got to watch one of the men weave his net, using tools made out of old plastic chairs.
The difference in culture and the experiences we got to see allowed all us to look at the Dominican with new eyes – not of those of foreigners, but of the people themselves. We all look forward to many more great chances to learn about this culture!
-Sophie Park, another proud LOD
June 23, 2016
I had a wonderful day today and it reminded me of the beautiful beaches at home. The crystal, blue waves were exactly like the ones my dad shreds on every weekend and select weekdays. We all really enjoyed the snorkeling and beach time outside of a deluxe resort with delicious, Dominican pizza. The cheese pizza was my favorite- no surprise there. We began the day visiting a crowded maternity hospital that reconfirmed my decision to pursue the medical field. The health conditions were horrendous, but the experience was unparalleled to any medical encounter in my life. The snorkeling and beach time were amazing, but the maternity hospital made my visit, thus far, priceless. Hi, mom, dad, Bugsy, and etc. I miss you all a lot and I really appreciate my bed and shower at home. I’m alive and I didn’t jump off of any cliffs….yet. I’m just kidding, don’t kill me, mom.
We started today with a hearty breakfast complete with pineapple, per usual, before taking a morning walk through the community to what will soon be Cavo’s house. After four long hours of hammering, cementing, and cutting mesh wire, we successfully finished 40% of the house. Although we were new to mixing and applying the cement, the local children’s eagerness to help out and teach us got us through the hot morning, as well as a great playlist. Then, several trips to the interesting bathroom later, it was lunch time. The local family prepared potatoes, carrots, the usual assortment of fruit, pork, tuna, and pasta salad. In an attempt to motivate us, our mentor Rakesh told us that if we met his stretch goal, he would shave his beard. With this incentive, we got straight to work. Two hours later we had finished using up all of the plastic bottles for the wall insulation, completing our goal. On our way back to home base, we stopped at the pastor’s house, the only church in the community, that also happened to be a coconut shredding business. He showed us his techniques and daughter’s delicious coconut cookies. Following the yummy treats, we returned home and took a long dip in the pool. From the pool, we moved to the beach for a change of scenery and found some of the locals that we had been working with that day at the house. After drying off, we ate dinner and listened to two sessions of leadership training. We ended off the night gazing at the starry night which is somewhat of a rarity to some of us back in the States and was greatly appreciated by all.
Devon Granberry and Cari Quintana
XO from the Dominican, Sugar & Delaney.
Today the team accomplished a lot at the school in Las Canas. We completed a tire snake that will allow the children from ages 6 to 14 to crawl through the tires and jump on them. We also finished a castle bridge which allows kids to again crawl through the below space and jump on the rope bridge that connects two platforms. While we were working some local children tried out our playground sets and you could just see their faces light up. Completing the project today was very rewarding in that we all know that it will bring joy to children for years to come.
After a long day of work we were able to relax. Most of us went to the beach and took in the nice ocean breeze while Delaney and I and few others stayed behind to chill and take a nap. Afterwards, we had an activity on health care statistics of various countries. We were all surprised to see countries such as Albania and Sweden at the same level as the U.S. and the UK. This knowledge gave us all perspective on how many factors can go into having good healthcare in a country because Albania’s average income was around 5,000 dollars which is very low, yet they had pretty good healthcare. Can’t wait for tomorrow and the last couple of days we all have here. I hope to make the rest of these days count. Thanks again parents for this amazing opportunity.
June 29, 2016 – Day 12
Today started with a relaxing bus ride to the school health fair in a local community 25 minutes away. There we taught third to fifth graders how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We also took the kids pulses before and after playing games, such as jump rope and volleyball, and measured their height and weight. After the fair we got a rewarding trip to get ice cream and milkshakes. We returned home, went for a stroll on the beach, and had a lecture about ways to solve a problem in the DR by fundraising at home or school. After a tasty dinner of “fish and chips”, we played an interesting game. We were blind folded in the dark and then guided to an unknown location where a maze was present. We then tried to solve the maze with an option to ask for help if we were stuck. The purpose of the game was to ask for help because the maze was impossible to solve. The take back from this game was to understand where on the personality spectrum you are: a person that asks for help quickly or are more independent and stubborn.