Today, June 27, 2016 we built a house. A house made out of empty plastic bottles, chicken wire and concrete. Today we realized the only true necessities of life. Today we realized all the unnecessary things in our world that we think make life better. Today we learned what happiness is and the few things needed to be happy. Today helped us understand what makes the quality of life as best as can be. To see the younger children of the community so happy with little other than each other’s company gives a new perspective to how we’ve lived our lives to this point. Granted that it has only been one day, it has already begun to teach us so much.
We have also begun to learn more about the premise of giving and good deeds. It’s hard to see the repercussions of giving in the moment but there is so much more to it. Obviously there is no “right” way to do good deeds but we are learning how to do it as well as possible. To look at it from new angles and try to support the long term needs of a community rather than to solve short term problems. Also, to think about the difference between the lives we live and the lives of others and how to build them up rather than make them more like us. For example, while we might want to build toilets in a community like the one that we are staying in due to sanitation, in reality they have no desire to have toilets while there are many other things that the labor and money could go to benefit them. Today helped us learn the differences between needs and wants. Today was one day in our life that we can say we learned, learned in a way that did not demand for us to sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture. We learned about life, needs, desires and true joy. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow and the following days inhale.
– Tess Tobias & Lila Harris
During our second day in the Dominican Republic, we continued to build not only a house for a family in need, but also, relationships with those who will be affected by our contribution. Through the process, we’ve been discovering a great deal about ourselves and our capabilities involving the environmental process. The walls of the house are solely constructed with recycled water bottles, chicken wire, and cement.
For our night activity, we watched a documentary called “The 11th Hour”, in which the main theme encapsulated a clear understanding on how the human race has selfishly used its natural resources. After the movie, we delved into a discussion regarding the topic, in ways which clarified why fossil fuels and other factors negatively impact the world we are living in. We also covered how to be more sustainable within our lives. For this reason, it makes what we are doing here in the Dominican so important in the course of bettering the world’s environmental security.
Days 3, 4 and 5
We started off our day on Wednesday by facing our fears and soaring through the air on a zipline. Although some were reluctant we all hopped off the chair and fifty feet in the air we dropped into the warm water below. Some others chose to also jump off of cliffs in the same area. After that, we explored some water caves where we spent our time swimming around, catching water bugs and relaxing. Later, we made our way to a nearby beach where we floated in the salty water and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.
The next day we went back to the house where we continued to sack bottles and cement the walls. Even though we were hot and tired we worked hard and finished the wall, leaving us all with a sense of accomplishment. We said goodbye to the families and went back to the base where we learned about economic security, in order to continue our learning and understanding of human security.
Today, we made our way to Sosua. On the way we stopped at a beach where we all went shopping and swimming. For lunch we ate at a local sandwich shop and relaxed. Later tonight we will go to a museum that will teach us about the history of Sosua, with a specific focus on its Jewish past. After that, we will spend Shabbat at a local Temple in order for all us to celebrate and learn about Judaism in other places.
Today we visited a batey, a Haitian community in the Dominican Republic, where poverty was even more severe than our previous project site. Walking down the road children poked their heads out of doorways and came up to hold our hands. Noticing the prevalent malnutrition and lack of resources was heartbreaking, especially knowing there are limitations to the amount of help we can provide. Although our impact was short in time, the day was filled with piggy back rides and soccer games which created memorable and meaningful connections.
As our Dominican adventure comes to an end we look back on what we have accomplished and the communities we have positively affected. Through every experience we were able to see the differing results of our involvement. Although we faced difficult realities, being a part of these projects made us realize that happiness is not related to materials or judgements.