Last Day at Papita!
Today was a long and hard day at construction, but we got through it! It was such an accomplishment to help everyone finish the house. When we arrived, we started working on getting dirt and rocks to help fill up the rooms. Some people were also painting inside. It was very refreshing when it started to rain, but that didn’t mean we stopped working--we pressed on! Then after lunch, people continued to work and a few others helped distribute food and hygiene kits to everyone in the batey. That was a really eye opening and emotional moment, as we saw firsthand everyone’s living conditions and realized how grateful people were when they received the packages. All day everyone tried their hardest and worked their best to make sure this house is done so a family can move in. With a special ceremony, we were able to formally dedicate a completed house to its newest residents. (They'll officially move in next week, as soon as the cement floor is dry and safe!) Knowing a family can now move into their forever house makes me feel extremely happy.
Rick & some of his "minions"
by Jenni French, DRST chaperone
Ten years ago, in the wake of the massive earthquake that happened in Haiti in January 2010, the leadership at Watkinson School said yes to sending a team to work in La Romana. The Dominican Republic Service Team was born.
Today, we celebrated ten years of service of the Dominican Republic Service Team in the most fitting way possible; we served a catered meal to all the residents of Batey Papita, the site where we have been building hurricane proof homes for the last four years. The residents there are our friends and, in the wake of Thanksgiving, it was a powerful moment to provide a hearty meal to people who never have enough to eat. It was also special because the whole team took part in the celebration! This morning's med team saw 111 patients and then drove 45 minutes to join the construction team for our celebration at Batey Papita.
Of course, the meal was accompanied by music and dancing, clowns on bicycles, bubbles, and adults visiting despite English/Spanish/Creole language barriers.
Ten years ago, I never could have imagined the thousands of people who would decide to engage with this work. Thank you just doesn't seem to cut it. On behalf of the people of La Romana and the surrounding bateys, I say thank you to the 20 adults who agreed to chaperon and lead this trip over the years. Thank you to the hundreds of travelers who have put sweat, smiles and hugs into the work in the bateys. And thanks, too, to their parents who trust and support us with this endeavor. Thank you to the thousands of donors who have donated money gifts, hygiene items, meds, and shoes. Know that your gifts have eased suffering and transformed lives out on the bateys. We LITERALLY couldn't have done any of it without all of you.
Here's to the next ten years!
La Fuerza Azul feeding residents of Batey Papita
And enjoying a healthy, delicious meal.