All student have arrived safely.
After waking up today to our alarm clocks (a.k.a. the roosters), we went via bus to a local town about ten minutes from home base called Cano Dulce. Because of their rural location, Cano Dulce is a cacao plantation with a small local population. The locals face many problems including lack of sanitary water, food security, access to education, and adequate housing. One of the local fathers, Jonny, runs a small bee farm on the border of the plantation; he is the supplier of the delicious honey we enjoy for breakfast. Recently, Jonny has faced many issues with neighboring farmers due to their usage of the herbicide “Roundup”. To help Jonny out, we divided into three groups: the cement group, the bee box group, and the bridge group. The cement group mixed cement for Jonny’s family’s house, which was lacking in proper flooring and foundation. Meanwhile, the bee box group cut wood and used the wood to make fully functioning bee boxes to serve as a habitat for Jonny’s bees. While all this was going on, the bridge group constructed a safer pathway across the river to his farm. Yes, for all the concerned parents out there, this seem like a lot of hard work, but for us, it was very rewarding to see the impact we were making in this tight-knit community. The local children continually offered their support and help, socializing on breaks with all of the volunteers. One child in particular, Manuel, stood out for his outgoing personality, constantly offering us various fruits while simultaneously stealing our cameras for some quality selfies. After we finished our work for the day, we headed back on the bus to return to our home base for a free afternoon. Relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Dominican Republic, we ended our day in the sun.
– Miranda Wolford and Emma Seavey
Today we went to La Grua, an old sugar cane batey that primarily had Haitian residents about an hour away from our home base. We were split into two groups, and switched work loads after lunch. My group first dug the trenches for the footer for the bottle community center that we are building for the community. We are the first group to work on it, so it was really cool to be there. The people were really friendly and many of the locals stopped by to help. We then ate lunch, having pasta salad, baked chicken and fruit. The pineapple is the best here, I’ve never had any like it.
Then we went into the streets, where we were introduced to several locals, and they helped us do a trash cleanup. More specifically, we were looking for plastic bottles, so that we can put them in the walls of the community center. Fortunately, the community helped us, and several of them had already collected big piles in their houses in preparation for us coming. Afterwards, we were bombarded with young kids who were dying to take pictures with us. It couldn’t be helped, and we spent part of the afternoon giving the kids piggy back rides and playing checkers with them. An ice cream truck stopped by and we all indulged in our favorite ice cream.
Later, Giorgio gave us an interesting lecture on human security, where we learned about the vulnerabilities in the world and offered us solutions and ways we could help. Overall it was a very satisfying day. Immersing ourselves in the community is exactly why I came here, and I’m glad I was able to help these people in a big way!
The day began at 8:30, which was a later wake-up time than normal. After a delicious breakfast, we ventured via bus towards Dudu Lagoon. Dudu, a popular hangout spot for both tourist and native Dominicans, is a natural freshwater lagoon surrounded by a landscaped grassy area, soccer field, volleyball court, animals, and a restaurant. In the larger of the two lagoons, we could zip line and cliff-dive off a 40 foot ledge- terrifying for some, but definitely an adventure. Relaxing and eating ice cream was certainly much different to our regular days of service; it was a much-needed break from the hot sun. After we arrived back at base camp, we had a lovely dinner, participated in an interesting leadership lesson on food security on the global scale, and participated in a personality test to discover our respective personality groups.