Today was our first full day in the DR and it is 11.11. Thanks to all of you...our generous donors... we are celebrating that we surpassed 111 donations for the 11 Days of Giving campaign! We are SO INCREDIBLY grateful to all of you who supported Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation! Thank you for blessing these children and the programs Thrive in Joy is dedicated to here in the DR as well as those in Los Angeles. We'll be able to give everyone a full report on the final campaign results when we get back into the US airspace on 11/15... as we learned last year, if we log into PayPal in the DR, everything converts to pesos!
What a powerful day this was to kick off our trip--
This morning we visited Ketty's house, a home for girls, and a few of their younger brothers. All at Ketty's House have been rescued from abusive environments. They may have been living with violent adults, some of them have mothers who are in jail, others were found living on the street. At Ketty's they are safe, educated and given spiritual guidance. Gabrielle, one of our team members, works for Free For Life, an organization that rescues young people from human traffickers. She spoke with the older girls about how to protect themselves from those who might prey on their vulnerability. The girls did a craft project with items I bought at JoAnn's back in LA: wooden Christmas ornaments, paint and glitter. The girls made gorgeous designs and hung them on their rainbow--yes, a rainbow--of a Christmas tree, already set up in the entrance of their home.
In the afternoon, the Vision Trust bus took us to the Remar Orphanage where we saw all the wonderful children we have come to know over the past 3 years. The guys played ball on El Play de Nick or were hard at work painting the walls of the boys' house. I was hoping I would have enough ornaments after Ketty's house for the girls at Remar. I asked how many I needed and was told 21...I counted the ornaments-- there were exactly 21. Everyone took their ornament painting very seriously and produced beautiful pieces sitting at tables under the new shade roof that had been installed since our last visit. I was told tomorrow they would be putting up all their Christmas decorations...the Holidays start very early here in the DR!
We have an great team on this trip: returnees are Greg and his wife, Diane, Anne, and Mark --all who make the trip every November. Mark's dad, Ronnie is a first timer with us. We also have newbies Aaron, Erick and Jeremy who are co-workers and are here because their company encouraged them to make the trip and not only gave them the time off, but covered their expenses. We're blessed to have Jay's niece, Meagan, who traveled from NY to join us and we have Gabrielle who is amazing to observe as she serves her mission of counseling the young people of both sexes about human trafficking. I promise to post a group picture tomorrow. Tonight it's almost 10:30 and after being up all night the night we left, I vowed I'd get to sleep at a decent hour. Tomorrow it's the church service on the roof of Tia Tatiana school in the morning where we get to hear Doris' amazing singing...and then it's the 3+ hour drive to the school at Comendador--located just a short walk from the border of Haiti.