Monday, November 10, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The following is a summary of the 25 months that I spent in the Dominican Republic.
The day that I arrived in the DR (July 31, 2006) was the day that we received Ian, an 11 pound, 18 month old baby boy. Ian stayed with me, Jennie, and Alexia in the Makarios house (in Puerto Plata) for a total of two months. We took turns taking care of Ian, even when necessary taking him with us into the villages while teaching class. Ian was adopted by a Haitian couple in September 2006, and lives with them in Haiti. I have not seen him since.
I taught two classes in the village of Chichigua. Chichigua is a very small, all-Haitian village, built right in the thick of sugar cane fields. I used their church building in this isolated area to teach my classes. The youngest student was Guillermo, a chubby 2 year old boy (turning 3), and my oldest student was Monis, an illiterate 17 year old girl.
The other village I taught in was Pancho Mateo, a much larger village across the river from the small town Monte Llano. The village is made up of both Haitians and Dominicans. I taught 4 classes, with students age ranging from 2-20 years. The classes I taught daily in both villages consisted of math, reading, writing, and Bible. During this time a Haitian woman named Cristina became my teacher's aide, helping me teach and control the chaos of the classroom.
In October 2006, we started a food program in my classes. It began with a glass of milk and a hard boiled egg, and the following year grew to milk, a hard boiled egg, a piece of bread, a banana, and a vitamin.
Jennie, Alexia, and I lived together in the Makarios team house, and along with Jennie's husband Miguel, made up the entire staff in country. Alexia taught English and literacy classes to adults in Chichigua and Pancho Mateo, and Jennie oversaw all the administration and finances of the organization. In January 2007, Jennie and Miguel were married and moved into an apartment in Monte Llano.
Groups and interns are a big part of the DR. They plan and implement activities and programs during their stay and help lessen the ratio of kids to adults. They also do a great job loving on all of the kids. It does make it pretty tight living quarters though. Pictured on the roof with me and Alexia are all the summer staff and interns. As you can see, it was a big jump in number of people at the house. We sure did have a blast!
During the first year, Alexia and I drove a standard pathfinder to class, (that is when it wasn't in the shop). I would drop her off in one village and then continue on to the next with all the school materials and items for the food program. By te second year, the car was no longer around, so I walked and took public transportation.
During the summer of 2007 (and into the fall), a school was built. This meant that I would no longer be traveling back and forth between villages with all the school supplies, but that the students would come here. The school was built just across the river from Pancho Mateo, in the town of Monte Llano. (The neighborhood within the town is called El Tamarindo). Therefore, those students living in Pancho Mateo walked to school. The students from Chichigua were picked up in a van each day and taken to and from school. We also welcomed new students, those living in the neighborhood were the school had been built (El Tamarindo).
A new school year brought a new staff. At the end of the summer Alexia moved back to the states, and Robin, Weston, Kate, Cara, and Elizabeth came down. The first few weeks were a bit chaotic, but soon after everything got the hang of it. We began a before school program in the morning, a preschool at midday, and an after school program in the afternoon. Kate taught the youngest class in the morning and afternoon, and Cristina taught the middle aged students. Together they taught one of the preschool classes. I taught the oldest class in the morning and afternoons and Weston taught all P.E. classes, together we taught the other preschool class. Robin oversaw all things taking place in the school, and Cara and Elizabeth helped out wherever needed as interns. The kids each day would line up outside for songs before class started.
During this school year the food program developed to hot meals for our preschoolers (including rice, beans and chicken, spaghetti, and mangu with salami). We also hired a Dominican woman to do the cooking!!
In December of 2007, Robin, Cara, and I moved out of the Makarios house and into an apartment in Monte Llano. It was a perfect move as people coming to the country continually increased, as did our desire for a place we could call our own. The apartment in Monte Llano was such a great move. We had some personal space, and were also plugged in even more so to Dominican life since being located walking distance to the school. Monte Llano is located between the Puerto Plata and Sosua.
In January of 2008, Garrett and Anne Boon moved down to oversee pretty much everything in the DR- from well being of staff, to groups, building projects, and finances. Throughout the spring many others came down, including Kara and Laurin.
The remainder of the year was a great time of growth, development, and love. These images are a few glimpses in one day in the life...
In August 2008, we had a graduation ceremony for all of my students older than twelve. It was so great to spend the past two years with most of these kids and to look back and see how they have grown. It also brought great closure to the 25 months I spent in the DR.
Here is a group shot just days before flying out of the country at our apartment in Mone Llano.