There are 13 of us on this trip from all over the country--California, New York, Colorado, Missouri, Nashville, and Oklahoma-- plus our Dominican translators and driver...we're a bus-full and it's so cool that we've all come together to make a difference in the lives of kids in this country who we can help have a chance at breaking the cycle of poverty. Sunday started with the church service we always look forward to on the roof of Tia Tatiana School with great music and singing and heartfelt words from the pastor that echo throughout the community...thanks to a great sound system! The church seems more full on each trip we make. It's encouraging to see that Tia Tatiana School is having an impact throughout this challenging neighborhood where poverty is so prevalent.
After a walk through the Herrera community to see how some things are changing for the better, we boarded the bus for a 3 1/2 hour drive to the town of San Juan de Maguena, which would put us close to the town of Comendador, where the new Vision Trust school is located. When we reached Comendador the next day, we quickly saw why we had to stay an hour away...there were absolutely no accommodations in this extremely rural area.
The agenda on Monday at the Vision Trust Comendador School had Gabrielle having a talk with the teachers about the realities of sex trafficking of minors. Meanwhile, some of the guys worked on an electrical project and some of us did team building art projects with the children. The school building is great but they have no proper desks or tables for the students. The town is one of the most impoverished area I'd ever experienced. We learned there are over 300 children from 3 -12 years old attending the school. We were told the school accepts those who are most in need of help. The teachers at this school are doing God's work and hoping to be able to serve children all the way through high school. We found all the children loving, respectful and eager to learn. We did a craft project where they had to copy pieces of a poster that had been cut in portions. Each student had to work with a partner reproducing their portion using colored pencils on a piece of paper. They were excited and focused. No one knew how their picture would fit into the "bigger picture" but when they were done we taped the "puzzle up on the wall so they could see how each of them contributed to make something together.
We took a walk through the town as well as made a stop at the Haitian border before heading home in the afternoon. It was a day that makes you feel helpless to see so much poverty but at the same time, grateful to be experiencing another culture and feeling that just by sharing smiles and time with the students and teachers we received so much gratitude in return. Perhaps there's a way we can help provide the students at this school with classroom furnishings more conducive to learning.