Monday, March 5, 2007

An Exciting Day at the Mendoza Center

What an exciting day! It started very early for the CI staff because we were on the biggest morning show on Dominican television, Hoy Mismo, (Today). The four of us were on the show to talk about our work in the Dominican Republic and the opening of our new Mendoza Center. It was fun, and the show reached Dominicans across the island and, via satellite, in many other countries.

After the show we traveled out to the new center to make sure that everything was set for the big celebration. The mural had been completed…

…And chairs were set up in the community hall for the formal inauguration.

All we needed were the invited guests. These included leaders from the community, major grant providers (like USAID), our own staff and of course, some of the children and their parents. You could feel the buzz in the air as staff worked hard to put the finishing touches on the rooms that would soon be full of activity.

One of the rooms that the youth are going to really find important is the Microsoft Computer Center. It has 16 "state-of-the-art" Dell computers loaded with Microsoft tools, networked and connected to the Internet. This will provide an important resource for the community…all funded through a Microsoft grant.

After our guests arrived we gathered in the community hall. The seats were all filled.

There were some great speeches about the importance of the center and our vision for the community, as well as many words of appreciation to those who made the new center possible. But my favorite speech was given by this young sponsored child, who talked about her life and her dreams. She was the star, as the children in our program always are.

After the speeches, the ribbon was cut, we took a tour and then, up to the roof for music and food. A band from a local university was playing. I was told that the band often volunteered their services to churches, community groups and development organizations. They certainly were appreciated by all of our guests.

The opening was a big success. People talked about their dreams for the space and how soon, with the help from a donor (hint), there would be a wonderful playground on this roof for the younger children.

All in all, the trip was very valuable to me. We met with important donors who can help us create more – and better – programs. We raised the visibility of our program by being on television. We spent time in Santiago looking at the next center that needs rehabilitation. But most importantly, we renewed friendships with children, families, and staff...the people that make our programs vibrant and important to the communities we serve.

Posted on behalf of Brian Anderson, who visited the Dominican Republic for the inauguration of the Mendoza Center, a Children International community center.

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