All students have arrived safely! Stay tuned for updates and photos!
On the first day of the GLA Dominican Republic trip, the students traveled to Cane Dulce to assist a local honey farmer in adding concrete to the floor of his home. Through a mixture of sweat, cement, sand, and river water, the floor, and a primitive staircase leading to his bathroom were completed with the help of a professional stonemason. When they returned to the GLA home base, they discussed the necessity of human security in world projected to grow to a population of 11 billion people, and the role the economic portion plays. The conclusion that they reached was sometimes a lack of education in proper financing causes several issues that can lead people like the honey farmer to invest in things like a car and cable TV instead of a proper floor for his home. This pressing social issue pervades society on a global scale, but can be improved upon by increasing the availability of proper education and opportunities for people in communities like Cane Dulce.
On the second day of the GLA Dominican Republic trip, the students traveled to Caraballo. Caraballo is a bateye, a former sugarcane plantation, where students helped to help build a community center for the Haitian community living there. The community center is made of recycled plastic bottles encased in cement, mixed with the hard work of the GLA students. While working on the community center, the students were able to interact with the local children. While not completely finished, the center is already being used as a monthly medical clinic. To wrap up the work day, the students took a tour to compare the Dominican community with the Haitian community, two halves in a very different world, separated by only a few feet of water. The students discussed how both the Dominican Republic and Haiti have struggled.
The students took a day off to recharge, and bask in the tropical Dominican sunshine and crystalline waters. The day was filled with relaxation and exhilaration, as the students took turns jumping from a zip-line some thirty feet above the water, and then plunging into the roughly eighty five feet deep blue waters of the Dudu lagoon. Throughout the day the students visited both the larger, and the smaller lagoons, connected by an underwater cave tunnel. They also visited a small cave, and in attempts to soak in as much Caribbean sunshine, attempted both a game of volley ball, and a haphazard game of soccer. To finish off the day they watched a documentary “the world according to Monsanto” where scientist revealed the truth behind the commonly used yet deadly pesticide Roundup.
On the fourth day of the GLA Dominican Republic trip, the students returned to Cano Dulce to build bee boxers for a local family. Once there, the students realized how hard wood can be and how far you have to drive in a nail to make an impact. The surprising resilience and springiness of the wood shocked the students, which led to several difficulties in the making of the boxes. As time passed, the students realized that the more they hammered the wood, the softer it became, making it much easier to hack and shape the wood with machetes and various other hand tools. All in all, it was a very productive and educational day for the students. It was a day full of constructing things, allowing the students to enter a world they had never experienced before. Well done GLA!
On the sixth day of the Dominican Republic trip, the students climbed the mountain of Brison. The students visited a local school where kids in k-8 go to learn and a local’s house where they saw how the locals cook their food using homemade charcoal and firewood instead of stoves and burners. After a tiring three mile hike to the top, the students visited the local watershed which is purified by old coral. Afterwards we helped the local people plant coffee saplings in their backyard so they can have some stable income. The students finally made their way to the bottom of the mountain and when they returned to the home base they discussed how hard it must be for the local children to climb down the mountain every day to attend school, and then back up to return home. The students finished off the day by watching the documentary Food Inc. and discussing how certain factors in today’s supermarkets are kept secret from the buyers.
WOW! It is our last day in the Dominican Republic! Today, we went snorkeling in Sosua and explored the coral reefs. The coral reefs were for the most part bleached with small amounts of fish. Afterwards, we discussed the reasoning for coral bleaching and the recent decline in fish, as well as the stress it puts on communities that rely on fish for their main sources of protein. After a week of exploring different parts of the island we are ready to take all that we have learned back to our communities. As a team we have worked together in hopes of at least making a small impact in these areas. Now, everyone in our group has gained new perspectives and understanding of what it means to live in a developing country. For example; while hiking up Brison, we were drained of energy and struggling to making it up the mountain-but soon realized that in order to go to school the kids make the trip up and down the mountain every day. Although, we have yet to make even the slight dent in the problems of this island, we are all going home with a sense of achievement. Till next time!
*We hope to receive photos and will update you when we receive them. Thank you for your patience.