Thursday, March 1, 2007

A Bittersweet Return to the Dominican Republic

Posted on behalf of Brian Anderson of Children International...

Getting to the Dominican Republic is not an easy hop from Kansas City. To make connections in Atlanta, I had a very early 3 am wake up call. Leaving a very frosty Kansas City for Santo Domingo but the eventual warmth of the sun more than made up for it.

I admit this trip will have some bittersweet memories for me. My wife Nicole and I have been to the Dominican Republic three times: the first on a vacation, the second with 60 teenagers who helped construct an addition to our community center in Mao. And the last time was just two years ago with board members and staff.

The trip to Mao however, holds a special place for me. This fall my wife passed very suddenly from cancer and her favorite picture was the one from our adventure in Mao.

There are several goals for this particular trip: meetings with Franklin (a CI Gift Officer) and our local staff, talking to several major foundations as well as an official with USAID, assessing a community center in need of renovation, and opening center that just recently underwent a significant renovation and addition.

The meetings thus far in Santo Domingo have been interesting and productive but it is too early to tell what the future holds.

Then we were off to Santiago - a trip only a few hours by car on a very good road through a beautiful valley. There are mountains on both sides of the valley and good crops between.

In Santiago we will assess the needs of the Cien Fuegos community center we have used for years. This center is scheduled for reconstruction and three friends groups in the US are helping to raise the resources necessary for the project. Our goal is to break ground in June when the children are out of school.

Later this week we will return to Santo Domingo where we will participate in the opening of the recently completed Mendoza Center. The center required significant reconstruction – in fact we gutted the first floor and added a second floor.

It's wonderful to see the progress we're making in the Dominican Republic. But it's still evident there is much work to be done, and I know that all of us, together, will continue to bring change to the children here who need it most.

At lunch time we stopped beside the road and had some roast pork. The place was full of people because of the National Holiday of Independence. This man served us from a pig that he had roasted the night before. It was a tasty and very Dominican lunch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I lived in Jarabacoa, very near Santiago, so this brought back a lot of good memories for me. Thanks for continuing to help the people of my 'adopted' country!