Last week was a kick off week for us as a Regional Team serving the Caribbean and Central America (More on that later). It was a week of amazing stories and hard-working people going and serving needy nations around the world.
We arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday, after our Saturday workshop with Orlando students. We were tired, but also excited to have arrived! The humidity slapped us in the face and covered us like a blanket the moment we stepped out of the airport. What a good feeling to be back in this city, on this island. Smells of both burning trash and ocean air fill my lungs as we travel to San Pedro, where 30-40 students await us.
There’s something so surreal about teaching people in the developing world. I know all of us love it. From the first class where our friend Zach asked “Who here can tell me of a time they experienced unclean water?” and we heard the responses, to now as our team talks and teaches about the Moringa tree and the bio-sand filter. The questions are so realistic. The comments too real. My heart feels like it is being filled as each student thanks us for coming and sharing our knowledge with them. It has been an incredibly humbling time.
Last night, the power went out. That dreaded humidity filled the room and without the noise of a fan, we could hear the close hums of the mosquitos. There is a hurricane blowing through this place…through this island we love so dearly. Luckily for us, we are mostly out of harm’s way. Many of the students’ families are not as lucky.
For us, this is where the rubber meets the road. We teach about the need for a toilet as we visit with a friend who has no access to a proper latrine but owns a cell phone. We advocate for the use of rain catchment tanks in the middle of a rainy season. We think about all of these things as if we are the authority, but it is in remembering who we are and where we come from, that we know how the true reality can be found only in places like the Dominican Republic. Here, fecal matter could flood the streets (and no doubt is) due to a lack of proper facilities and the heavy rains. People are without clean drinking water, as even what might be a clean source is now dirty. This is a crisis and its sitting about an 1 hour and 50 minutes from Miami’s International Airport.
I suppose it would be easy for us to get discouraged. And, of course, we do sometimes. But, then we meet together as a class. We talk. We pray. Most importantly, we see the hearts of these Dominican students. Their desire to understand and know is inspiring. Their application field doesn’t end with the passing of next week, their application is their life. What a great blessing and awesome time to be able to work alongside of these students!
Next week, we will be building a latrine (for the mentioned friend) as well as bio-sand filters and tippy taps. We will also be integrating kids’ stations into these projects as well! We are really happy about the opportunities that have come up for next week. Thanks for all your support as we work together to help people attain the knowledge and resources to help their own family and friends live a fuller, healthier life. 🙂