For three summers in the Dominican Republic, Hero Holiday participants worked their butts off to complete our Arroyo Seco school project. In 2006, we finished the first floor, 2007 the second floor, and 2008 completed any final touches on the building including a fence around the building and a safe play ground for the children. This work site was always, by far, a favorite among our participants for one main reason: the CHILDREN. Everyday you were greeted by cheering bright faces, and by the end of the work week one child would have claimed you as their “Gringo”. Most participants dreamed of visiting the school again someday, and one past Hero Holiday Participant got to live this out. Nikki is currently living in the Dominican Republic for the next few months, and yesterday she was able to return to see her favorite school. Here is her blog entry about her visit:
Today was a day I will remember forever. The four of us hired a driver to bring us into Arroyo Seco, my favourite place in the world. Being in Puerto Plata now instead of Sosua, it is quite a bit further and I was really nervous about how I would manage to go out there. I was so excited when we heard that a group was in there today running a clinic. The group is led by Phil and Donna, of Servant’s Heart, an organization that we know well as they work closely with Hero Holiday and help us plan most of our work. Liz decided to come with us and it turned out really well as she was able to network with them and get to know more about their organization- which is a great way to learn and team up with each other.I was trying not to get too excited this morning as we were getting ready. It is a weekday and so the kids, I knew, could be in school. I have only been in the DR during the summer and did not know that (like Ethiopia) kids go to school for half days here (this was a great surprise!) As we drove up Bella Vista road to the school, I saw Danny standing in front of his aunt’s house. I stuck my hand out the window and waved, and his mouth dropped open and he started screaming and running into the house calling Frangelis. We continued down the road to the school and parked. Within a minute I could see Frangelis’ aunts and cousins peaking down the street to see if it was me. We were waving from down the road as I walked up to their house, and all the sudden Frangelis came out of the house and came running at me with a huge smile and jumped into my arms. It was such an amazing moment- I missed her so much and to be able to hug her and kiss her and tell her how much I missed her was so wonderful. Frangelis is a shy girl. That is sort of what drew me to her two summers ago when we met. Last year when I saw her first again it took her a little while to warm up to me. This year, she just ran and jumped into my arms and was so happy and excited and took no time at all to warm up. We stayed at the school for several hours and it was just a fun and happy time, walking throuhg the village and seeing all of ‘my’ kiddies again. I had made photo albums for several of the kids from the village with photos from the past few years. The kids took me around to their houses, showing their parents, their grandparents, their aunts, their cousins, the photos. They were SO excited about them. Frangelis, like most of the other kids, goes to school in the afternoon, so I was able to see and spend time with her, Elise, Hernardo, Tata, Minerva, Danny, Luisa, Noberto, Jennifer, Andony, and Alessandra. Juana, one of the girls who I became very close to, and Jessica, another one who is very special to me, were both at school (they are too old to go to the Arroyo Seco school so go down the road), so I didn’t get to see them. I left their albums with Frangelis so she could deliver them this afternoon when they get home. We walked through the village and toured the school and it brought back so many memories. It was LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly amazing to see kids in uniform sitting at the desks I had helped to paint in the room I had helped to construct, singing and learning and calling my name through the window. That village is just such a special place for me and it was amazing to see each child again and see how they are doing. Such a fantastic day… I am just so happy from getting to see those kids again.You can read more about Nikki’s adventure in the Dominican this summer from her blog site:www.heroholiday07.blogspot.comor her experiences in Ethiopia:www.ethiopia2009-adana.