The Beautiful Community of the Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic had the most beautiful and welcoming people I have ever met. I instantly felt connected with each person that I came into contact with due to their bright smiles and tight hugs. I was blown away by the amount of instant love and trust that this community creates. Even though I speak very little Spanish, I was able to communicate with each person- although I am sure I looked silly with the many hand gestures I made. Regardless of skin color, language, background or lack of commonalities between myself and the community, I was instantly accepted and loved. Through this instant love I received much more than I ever expected to receive through this two-ish week experience.  

I never thought that there would be such a difference with volunteering outside of the United States since people are typically congruent across the world (or at least what I thought). However, this belief was no longer true to me. The people of the DR continued each day to wake up and make lemonade out of the lemons they were given. They learned to celebrate life with the generational poverty that they were born into. Regardless of the Haitian refugees, volunteers or wanderers, the community of Batey would recognize them as part of their own. The community had a lot to teach not through spoken words but through their actions. During the day, my team and I worked on various projects such as helping construct the flooring and walls of the health clinic, planting 100,000 Cocoa plants to help filter their drinking water and paint/refurbish their community walls. Not only did the team of high schoolers and missionaries volunteer to finish these projects but each day the group of children, teenagers, and young adults came to the community center to help us complete each project… sometimes I think the community did more than we did. The community didn’t want a hand up, they wanted to learn the trade of hard work and contribute to it.

Upon completing all of the projects that we were set up to do, the community threw my team a celebration- Dominican style! They brought in cultural dancers to present the typical dances of the Dominican Republic. After that, those in the community who helped us presented us with their dances, too- dances that have been passed down from generations. Next was our turn! We showed the community how to do the Chicken Dance, Cupid Shuffle and Fishing in the Dark line dance. Their favorite was the Chicken Dance. These moments of laughing, sharing, dancing and enjoying life was one of the most cherished moments that I had in the DR. When I sat back and looked across the room, I saw my brothers and sisters, my new friends.

In our final ceremony after the celebration had ended, Rafael (the community director and founder) had a Seed Ceremony for us with the community. We all took one of the plants that we seeded and circled up. Rafael spoke about how each seed has a purpose, to become a plant but they can't do it alone, they need help from someone else to water it, check up on it, and actually plant it. Rafael said like those seeds, that their community needed us to come to aid in their efforts of furthering the completion of their community center. Without our help, their community may have not had the supplies or man power to complete these projects. But, right as Rafael was saying this, the Youth Minister from our team jumped in and said that our team could not have done this without them and their hard work- what Rafael and Sandy decided was that together our teams were powerful. Together is such an important word and an incredible mindset that I am beginning to instill within me. 

From going to the beach, shopping in El Mercado, taxi adventures with Claire, getting left alone by Steve to fend for ourselves (use our Spanish to get us from the market to home), the terrain being so flooded that our car stopped working so the men had to push us, to no air or electricity, painting pottery, cold showers, crazy bus rides, walking to the cliffs, our amazing St.Bonifance teens from Minnesota and even the Rooster that would wake us at 5:00 am every morning- this experience in the DR could not have been more impactful. As I depart from the Dominican I will leave a little piece of my heart with the culture, Dulce (our host-home momma) and the beautiful , beautiful community of Batey. 


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