Two middle-aged baby boomers leave it all behind to spend one year working in a Haitian "batey" in the Dominican Republic.
Monday, May 14, 2012
February 2012 - A Little Paint Goes a Long Way
During our visit last summer, we had a meeting with the local "Junta de Vecino" (Neighborhood Association) - more like a village council made up of an elected president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. We asked what future projects would be of benefit to the people of Lecheria. One of the responses was beautification of the community - primarily by painting the houses. So, with the help of the Junta and the SHCJ Sisters there, homes with the most needs were identified, and it was decided the visiting groups this spring would be involved in painting projects.
When our group of 12 St Luke parishioners and friends arrived in February, we were shown about a dozen houses that had been selected. John and Amber Ockerbloom, who arrived a few days before us, had gone out and purchased paint and supplies with funds we had raised or had recieved in donations. Soon the fun began! Painting houses "pieced together" with tin, wood, concrete, and whatever else people can find, is no easy task! Do we use a brush or roller? Very quickly, we found the answer: it doesn't matter when there are many hands helping. As soon as we asked residents for their help, people poured out! Families, relatives, neighbors and friends of all ages came to help! What a great community event we had on our hands. Not only did we share work, but jokes and laughter, too! The "togetherness" experienced made for some of the lightest work we've ever done - despite the heat and strong sun. It almost seemed like the miracle of the loaves and fishes. There were a lot of blessed people by the end of the week - proud home owners with freshly painted homes and volunteers who had just participated in a "holy" experience. And Calle Primera (1st Street) looked like a Dominco-Hatian Rainbow Row!
Other projects that some of our volunteers worked on included jewelry making and sock doll sewing - two ongoing projects that bring money to the women of the community. There was tee shirt tie-dyeing and medical visits, and, for fun, baseball games and a trip to the river with the kids.
When the goodbyes were said and the tears were dried, we all felt that it was one of the most fun trips we have had. We really think that it was made special by the evolving sense of community the we experienced. What a blessing for all of us!
"The 1st task in approaching another people, another culture, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else, we find ourselves treading on other people's dreams, or worse, we may forget that God was there before our arrival." - Bishop Kenneth Cragg