Tracy, Catherine, Janine, Meg and I are back from the Dominican Republic traveling with Bridges to Communities. We had an amazing experience. We visited Santo Domingo and then San Juan during Carnival. We then went west to the community of Durrumbadero across a river (which we drove or waded through) and into the mountains. There we worked digging the foundation for two additional rooms for a school for 700 children from 5 communities. Now many of the classes are meeting outside. When it rains (which is often during rainy season) there are no classes. We also worked in another smaller community where, under the supervision of a Peace Corp volunter and along side community members we dug a trench for an aquaduct to bring water to a central spigot. This community has had many cases of cholera due to polluted water. The aquaduct will certainly make a change for the better. The work was hard but so rewarding. At the aquaduct we had lunch in a community home. We washed with water collected from the previous days rain. When I mentioned to our host that soon they would have running, clean water near their home he said. "Si, aqua es la vida." (Water is life).
In Durrambadero we had a special opportunity to meet with a group of 5 year olds and visit their classroom. It was school vacation but 35 children, the teacher and the principal welcomed us. The children sang many songs and answered questions that the kids from Imagine Brooklyn Heights had asked. It was a wonderful picture taking opportunity. Every child was adorable. Tracy and her families at Brooklyn Heights collected many wonderful school supplies that were shared with the school.
We ended the week in the Hotel Playa Azul on the southern coast of the island. The water was that wonderful Caribbean blue and the showers were warm. It was a memorable trip and Imagine was well represented. Janine was the spokesperson for the group and at the closing ceremony for our time in the community was so eloquent talking about the new connection that was made between our group and the community. Tracy and Catherine were loved by all, hard workers and great travel companions. Meg, the youngest member of the group, fit in wonderfully. She never took a break and worked non stop digging and picking in the trenches. We all feel lucky to have had the opportunity to have traveled with Bridges and our new friends in the DR. The group shared a warm, happy feeling of reaching out and helping others. We all welcomed the chance to learn about another culture. The trip was truly in the spirit of Kids for Kids.
We hope to continue our work with Bridges as it solidifies its position in the DR. Bridges plan is to find another smaller community where the needs are great. Building houses and schools will be part of a future 5 year plan. I hope to partner with Bridges and keep Imagine Kids for Kids involved with the building of new schools. We then can work to build a relationship between the kids in the DR communities and our children at Imagine. We can also hope in the future to send more teachers to the DR to become Imagine Kids for Kids ambassadors.