While in Santo Domingo I met two great people by the name of Jay and Ryan who presented me with the opportunity to help one of the local communities in the San Jose de Ocoa area. The organization they represented titled “The New World Community (thenwc.com)” and in association with “Adesjo” were helping out the local communities in the mountains. Every year high schools and universities from Canada fly down to the Dominican Republic to perform community service with the local organizations. Organizations such as Adesjo has been helping with building houses, aqueducts, schools, in the outskirts of the mountains for over 50 years. Working with a Adesjo and Thenwc we went out to a small community in the mountains called La Bocaina. We were to build a house for one of the families in the area.
On the first day in La Bocaina we got a tour of the local community from Louis. He was the community police and a teacher of mathematics. He introduced us to a the local families in the area. They were grateful to meet us and happy that we were there to help their community. Louis himself was very funny. The men in that area were huge fans of baseball and loved the New York Yankees and any team that had Dominicans. They were proud of the players that came from the small island and became super stars like Jose Reyes. They knew all the stats. One of the men we spoke with was telling us that Jose Reyes played near their hometown and he wasn’t as good as he is now. But they are happy for his success. Speaking to the the men through broken Spanish, I explained to them that I was Haitian American and they seemed intrigued. They don’t encounter to many of Haitian Americans in the mountains. Through translation, one of the men said that Haitians and Dominicans go through similar struggles and I was lucky to grow up in the states. One of the college volunteers had blonde hair which is rare to see in the area. They were really fascinated by her.
The houses in the area are made of wood and some of them are made of concrete. I didn’t notice internal plumbing. Outhouses were located a few feet from the house and showers were taken outside. There was little to no insulation. It wasn’t like the houses you would see in Santo Domingo. The people were proud of there homes and were happy for what they had. Living on these mountains you are one with nature. The people wore rain boots because when it rains it pours. I’ve seen bugs that I’ve never encountered before. The mosquito’s are relentless. The mountains had a river flowing through it.
When we arrived at the work site, the family we were helping wanted a picture before we broke ground. It showed how much they appreciated what we were doing. The ground was already lined out in chalk to show us where we would start shoveling.The men explained what they wanted us to do. We were to shovel within the white lines and save any big stones we came across. Surrounding us were trees, fruit plants, small lizards, and chickens. We worked everyday for 6-8hrs and took lunch and water breaks. The area was filled with mosquito’s but they didn’t seem to bother the locals. Maybe it was because they were wearing pants and we came with shorts. We worked as a team filling buckets with water, mixing in the dirt and cement, filter the rocks from the pile. It was a great working at the site. These workers had years of experience building houses. Home and Garden TV would be proud. They used fish hooks to tighten up loose metal. They used wheel barrels as a measurement to figure out how much sand or cement to mix. It reminded me of all those math classes that I took and that I thought would never apply in real life. The men were impressed with our work effort.
Adesjo and Thenwc Community Service meeting
Adesjo and Thenwc had a meeting in their second location on the mountain tops of El Huguito. At this location they were repairing the roof of one of the residents of that community. The meeting was a chance for the executives of Adesjo to thank everyone for helping. Each leader thanked everyone for sharing the vision of the founder of Adesjo and their continued support of the local communities. They wanted the youths that came in from Canada to be ambassadors of Adesjo in Canada. They were grateful for the youths for coming and helping the community and instilling hope to the people. They were glad we took our time to help the poorest of the poorest. The message the community leaders wanted us to take home was this”Adesjo is interested in the people coming, the money is the least important to them, it’s our time and energy and physically helping the locals that matter.” The dedication is what’s important. They wanted us to get the experience of helping others. They love their small community despite the advantages of the city. They are grateful to live in their community with the advantages of water, electricity, and their music. As gifts for helping they gave everyone hats with the Adesjo logo.
What I learned
It made me think about all the 1st world problems that I complained about and how they don’t matter. I should be doing more to help myself and others. I’m thankful that I was able to meet Jay and Ryan who brought me along. It was a real chance for me to interact with the local community and the Canadian students who took time out from their college break to help communities such as this. This has been an inspirational and life changing. It was a great break from the tourists world into the reality of how Dominicans outside of the city continue to live.