With no big "projects" on our agenda, Cindy and I returned in April for a week to visit and offer a hand in whatever might be asked of us. Well, as it usually happens, we found ourselves busier than we thought and exhausted at the end of each day. That's a good thing! Here are some of people and things we were involved with:
2 New Sisters
With Sr Ann Joyce (Anita) now serving in Chile, 2 new sisters have recently joined Srs Kathleen and Mary Alice. Sr Genevieve (Jen) and Sr Fatima are both from the SHCJ African Province, and they have been in the DR since last fall. They are both a delight and we wish them well!
|(L to R) Sisters Fatima, Mary Alice, Kathleen, and Genevieve|
Guillermo is a teacher at the Fe Y Alegria school in Lecheria, and he is also an SHCJ Associate. It was brought to our attention a few months ago that he and his new "wife" and her 3 children needed their own house, so he purchased property and began to build. With the money he had, he was able to get walls and a roof up, and dig a septic tank.
A request for help came to us via Sr Mary Alice, so SHCJ Associates from Charlotte pitched in to collect $550 to be put toward whatever was needed to continue the construction. Guillermo was very moved by the donation. We put the money into an account from which he could draw out as needed.
Guillermo and I looked at the house together and determined that a concrete floor and a water connection would be the best "next steps", so we hired, Jackie, the best cement layer we knew. With the additional help of Guillermo's nephew, John Michael, and a neighbor, Claudio, we leveled the ground, laid the floor, ran a water line, and did some paint priming! Jackie added a small front patio with the remaining cement.
With the remaining donation money (about $180), Guillermo plans to hang doors, install a toilet and add some metal roofing and siding. He promises a picture when the family moves in!
Water Filter System Problems
In 2013 the Texas Baptist Men Water Ministry and the Fundación Christiana installed a water purification system just outside the clinic. For the current school year, it has been providing the drinking water for school and clinic. While there this week, we decided to take a look at the 3 ceramic filters that clean the water, and to our dismay, we found one to be broken and 2 to have cracks!
After some frantic emailing and a visit from Jose of the Fundación, we were told that the Fundación had 3 filters in there possession that they would send. God is good!
Joel and Galena's House
Joel and Galena have 8 kids and live in a two room "casa" at one end of Lecheria. Joel has been struggling for years to get his government documentation that would allow him to be hired in the DR, but he is still waiting. In the meantime, he finds odd jobs with the school and clinic. He has recently been able to repair the roof of his house and add some more space. When we arrived, he took us to his house to show us the changes, and although the walls were mismatched pieces of scrap and rusty metal, he was proud of his accomplishment and he wanted to "beautify" it with some paint.
Sr Kathleen donated some paint, we bought some brushes and we hired 2 boys, Ricardo and Vidal, to help the family paint the house. Friday was painting day. In 3 hours, the house was painted green with dark green trim on the door and window (along with faces, bodies and clothes), and Joel's family was proud.
|Vidal (with brush)|
|Joel and family|
Joel also showed us the rags that his boys used as a bed on the floor, and asked is we could help him get a bed for them. So, we asked him to get a quote for us, which he did. With some of our donation money and a loan from Sr Kathleen, Joel was given enough to buy a set of bunk beds. They arrived after we left. Now the family boys can sleep "high and dry"!
Fe Y Alegría School Getting Big...Bigger...!
What a difference 10 years have made! When we first visited Lechería, the Fe Y Alegría school consisted of 2 classrooms, an office, one teacher (Sr Mary Alice), and a couple of volunteers. Now it has 3 buildings, hundreds of students (including preschoolers), paid teachers, and a burgeoning staff of volunteers!
We were told that the first college-bound graduate of the school, Virginia, has begun her studies in the capital city! The school is such a testimony to the hard work and persistence put in over the years by Sr Mary Alice and her staff and volunteers (Domincan and American)! Sr Mary Alice has recently turned the reigns over to a Dominican principal, Luz.
|Principal Luz encouraging a student during morning prayer|
|Volunteer, Willie, securing the supply room|
Highway in Lechería
We never thought we'd see the day...but here it is - a highway passing through Lechería! The government was originally planning to simply cut through the only access road to Lechería, but the people and local businesses petitioned and received an overpass access.
As always, it's really about being with friends - old and new!