Two Families, Two Nationalities, One Home

My name is Hannah and I’m an intern in the Dominican Republic this summer. Today was our first work day for public trip #2. The two families we are building for are strong single mothers with beautiful children. The two families will be sharing a duplex. One family is Dominican and the other Haitian.

Today I had the opportunity to speak to the mothers of both families receiving new homes. The first mother I spoke to is Haitian and her name is Yudelca, (you can see her project page here). She has 13 children! With no support economically from any of the fathers, Yudelca said that to make money she cooks and then sells the food. Yudelca has 3 triplets, who were born 2 months pre-mature, and I also was pre-mature myself by 3 months. Yudelca was very surprised when I told her how I too was pre-mature, and seemed to really appreciate me saying how beautiful and healthy her triplets looked. Yudelca is a very caring mother for all her children.

The second mother I had the opportunity to speak to was Rosa, a mother of 3 children, (you can see her project page here). Rosa explained how she works 6 days a week cleaning the house and looking after the kids of another family. A neighbor looks after her youngest daughter while she’s at work. Rosa is a very loving woman, which was clear when she began explaining how unlike herself, many Dominicans would never live next to a Haitian family. Many Dominicans believe that Haitians don’t belong in Dominican Republic because it is not their country of origin, and they become very racist towards Haitians by not wanting to associate with them just because of their heritage. But Rosa doesn’t believe this and says that nationality is not going to change the way she sees another person, and that she loves everyone no matter where they come from. Rosa said that she hasn’t known Yudelca for very long but can tell that she is a beautiful and nice woman, and Rosa is overjoyed to be sharing a duplex with her.

Hearing how these two women of different nationalities can feel love for one another as opposed to racism is a story that will hopefully spread through the community and other parts of Dominican, which can spread awareness and teach others that the mistreatment of Haitians should not happen and that love is a better answer. I hope that other Dominicans begin sharing the same opinions and feelings towards Haitians as Rosa, and that other Dominicans and Haitians can get along as well as Rosa and Yudelca, despite their backgrounds.

I hope that Rosa and Yudelca’s relationship inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Hannah – LiveDifferent Summer Intern, Dominican Republic, 2014


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 27th, 2014

All that we expected and more

So far, our LiveDifferent experience has been all that we had expected and more. Today was our last day working towards building the house, and it was really rewarding seeing it come together. Having the chance to work along side the family during the past five days has been humbling, especially since we get to see first hand how truly grateful they are.

An important part of our trip is something we call ‘’Day in The Life’’. It is a day where we get to spend time with a family, help them with everyday chores, cook a meal, and learn about their struggles and triumphs throughout their lives. We both got the opportunity to take part in this, and met two amazing families that graciously welcomed us into their homes.

What shocked us both was how much poverty affected their everyday living conditions. The furnishing in their home were in disrepair, and not adequate for their growing family. Cleaning and food preparation were also difficult for us to maneuver, as the small kitchen was quite crowded with the very basic amount of appliances and counter space they had. Both these families weren’t blessed with many material possessions; however, they placed importance on ‘’people rather than stuff’’. This quote is proudly written on many of the LiveDifferent t-shirts, and we have learned to understand and love it. 

Tonight we had a special team dinner on the beach, where all the volunteers, interns, and leaders of our work team got the chance to have a fun evening getting to know each other better. Despite the different ages, we we’re surprised at how much we all had in common. The people we met on this trip were all very special, and we are grateful to have been part of such a great group. 

– Joelle and Tori, LiveDifferent Trip Volunteers, Dominican Republic, 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 18th, 2014

Building Strong Bonds

Today was the last house building day of our trip in the Dominican Republic. It was really amazing to see everything come together, but it was sad to think that my time here is almost over. We’ve all worked so hard but had so much fun while doing it, not letting any language barrier stop us from building strong bonds with community members, other workers, and children.

All the kids got happier and happier to see us every day, jumping onto us when we got out of the bus and running after us when we left at the end of the day. It was heartwarming how everyone in the community welcomed us with open arms and appreciated what we were doing for them. Multiple times we were told that we were part of their family and a blessing from God, which really made me realize how much the homes we were building were going to change their lives.

The walls went up on the house almost as fast as the relationships we built grew. It seemed like the entire community was outside of their houses helping out in any way they could, or just dancing along to our music and being a part of the group. It seemed like the hotter it got the harder we worked and the more the determination and the teamwork was evident.

The main community leader and pastor of the church, Sandra, gave a speech to us about her role in the community’s development. Her mother cooked us an amazing meal at lunch for all 40 of us, with all sorts of great community traditional dishes. We all worked ridiculously hard that morning, so that was probably the most I have ever ate at a meal, so it’s a good thing it was delicious!

– Chloe, LiveDifferent Trip Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 16th, 2014

Building, Bonding, and Bubble Blowing

Today was an exhilarating first day of our build of Maria and Carlos’ house.   As soon as we arrived on the site, we sprang into action and everyone quickly dug into the many different tasks that needed to be done.  We mixed cement, carried cement blocks, and worked together to lay the blocks and build the walls of the house.   It was truly wonderful to see everyone working so hard and there was a true spirit of determination on everyone’s sweat covered face.  It was teamwork at its finest; everyone was willing to help out wherever and whenever.   To keep our spirits high, we sang, told stories, and took a minute to play with one of the lovely kids who was playing near the build.  By the end of the day, the walls were up and it was an awesome sight to see. 

The thing that truly struck me about today was the wonderful sense of community here.  This is a place where people truly love each other, care for one another, and will do anything to help one another.   Everywhere I went, I was greeted with a smile or a handshake or a hug from complete strangers.   Little children would happily run up to me and want to be picked up.  They were so open and so excited to see us and they showed so much gratitude for what is being done in their community.  It was very heart-warming and overwhelming. 

The highlight of my day was when I got to go and play with the kids on the beach.   Right away, I met Abigail, who came up to me and began speaking in Spanish.  I called on our wonderful translator, Judel, to help me and he said that she wanted to know if I had a camera so that I could take her picture.   My camera was at the build site, so she took my hand and walked with me so that I could take her picture.   We talked and visited and she said that we were “amigas.” It was such a special moment.  I really enjoyed playing with the kids and loved throwing the ball with them and skipping rope.   One little sweetheart just wanted to blow bubbles while he sat on my lap.   It was a truly memorable and wonderful day.   I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!

– Corinna, LiveDifferent Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 14th, 2014

Awareness Tour, more like Awesome Tour!

After finally getting a little bit used to the humidity and constant friendly smiles here, the Hero Holiday crew went on a tour around nearby communities that LiveDifferent works in. The windy bus rides were a nice break from the heat, but playing with kids in the communities for most of the day was worth running around in the scorching heat.
The community that we’ll be working in, Nuevo Renacer, is where the most hearts were touched today. Before we were even off the busses, kids that live there came running up to us. At first we didn’t know that one of them was Kendri, a little boy we’re building a house for, but once Joy told us, some of the volunteers who have raised children of their own started playing with him. It was touching to see them playing with children again, since their own kids are mostly grown up and they probably miss being “mommy”.
I think a lot of people had fun today, especially the people that experienced this for the first time. Tomorrow we start building, and everyone is super excited to get their hands, shoes, faces, arms, legs, and everything else dirty. Hopefully the farmers’ tans don’t get too dark!
– Melissa, LiveDifferent Intern, Dominican Republic, 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 11th, 2014