Carson Graham’s First Day in the DR

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March 12, 2011Nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see today. The entire day was a constant wave of emotions sweeping me of to new adventures. The first place the trucks took us to was a poor community that was bursting with friendliness, and surprisingly high spirits. Who would have ever guessed that people could be so happy with so little?As we stepped off the truck, we were greeted by an array of shining faces that belonged to children. The children were thrilled to hold our hands and join us “gringos” on a tour of their village.  A little boy who held my hand for some of the walk was quite a camera star. He was totally over joyed to pose for pictures, and gave a BIG grin when I showed him the picture I had taken of him. I also found it hilarious when he laughed menacingly and pointed at a boy on our teams braces. I don’t think I will ever forget the girl who came and gave me a hug before it was time for our team to leave.Back tracking a little, this is village is home to most of the people we will be working with in the garbage dump. The community is quite a site, definitely opposite of what you would find in a Canadian town. The houses are tiny, spacing is uneven, clothe lines hang from most homes (which by the way are extremely bare looking inside). You will also see pigs, dogs, chickens, and other animals roaming freely in the lane ways. The people who lived there have cut wire from the main power line and connected it to their home. It is an easy way to get free power but very dangerous. In fact, we were told that electrocution is often the 2nd leading cause of accidental death in the Dominican Republic.We hopped back on the trucks again waving randomly at citizens as we drove across the scenic landscape. Then it occurred to me how strange it was that nearly everyone we waved to waved back or smiled. If we were to wave like that through a community in Canada people would be all weirded out and just stare. We pulled to a halt at our next stop around 11am. It was a community centre, school, and church in one building that other Hero Holidayers have helped build on past trips like ours. Behind this facility there was a small basketball court were some teen-aged guys were playing basketball. Our group challenged them to a game after taking a peek at the school. It was fun! Also, when playing a sport, you don’t need language to communicate. Lucky for me, since I do not speak any Spanish. Later when I sat down next to a new little friend I attempted to ask what her name was in Spanish, “Como se Llama?”. Or at least that’s what I thought I said but my pronunciation must have been disastrous since she stared back clueless. After that it was time to return back to the resort for lunch. I dragged my feet to the bus because I really did not want to leave my new friends just yet.After a buffet lunch, we drove off to our final stop of the Awareness Tour. We stopped at a tiny community of primarily Haitians that have are extremely poor and many without work since the sugar cane industry took a bad hit. The house were in rough shape with patch work tin roofs that apparently leak during rain falls. We meet the “heffa (boss in Spanish), a kind hearted man who never goes anywhere without his horse. We also got to meet his daughter, a pretty young girl with mental and physical disabilities that have put her in a wheel chair. Her smile and joy could light up a room! She enjoyed our company and watched us from her wheel chair as we played a game of soccer with a group of teen-aged boys. We got to see our building project for our trip. We will be constructing a bathroom and shower facility for the community since at this time they do not have any in the entire village. Up until we complete this project they have been using the field behind the community.We drove back to our hotel after that. Our minds lost in thought. I finally feel like I am beginning to see through my heart, not just my eyes.~ Cholena

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 13th, 2011