The Dominican Republic Heart of the Caribbean
This past summer I had an experience that changed my life, I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is a small country on the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic has a population of more than ten million people, 41% of the people live below the poverty line. These people face many challenges that Americans could not even imagine. Even their basic needs such as clean water, shelter, and medical care are an everyday struggle for most of the population. Here, in the middle of struggle, is where I found inspiration.
I had always wanted to go on a mission trip. My church does numerous mission trips a year but my parents could never afford to send me on any of them. Last year I decided to raise money to go on a mission trip. My best friend, Hope, and I decided to both have the goal of raising enough money to go on the trip together. We did bake sales, washed cars, look after people’s pets, etc. We raised enough money to go and we decided to go on the Dominican Republic trip because it interests us and we both have been taking Spanish for several years and thought it was a good opportunity to practice speaking Spanish. We signed up, and that summer we finally got to go to the Dominican Republic.
The moment our plane touched the ground in the Dominican Republic I was overjoyed with excitement, this was my first time going out of the United States. Each day we were there we went to a different village. We went to villages all through out and near Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, San Pedro, and other cities. We had four teams with us, VBS team, baseball team, construction team, and the medical team. Hope and I were on the VBS team, Vacation Bible School, our team would walk around the villages and ask families if they would like to bring their children to the church in the village, or wherever we were able to set up, for a day of arts, crafts, stories, games, and face and nail painting. Lots of children came and even though we were only in a village for one day we built special bonds with many of the children. The children always wanted us to give them piggy back rides or braid our hair and pretty much hung on to us the whole time we were there. Throughout the day many of the children and adults went to get treated by the medical team for illnesses that had never before been treated; there were so many people who needed medical attention it was shocking to me because in America healthcare is easily accessible. Life in the Dominican Republic is very different from life in America.
The villages we went to in the Dominican Republic are like little towns, they each have a grocery store, a church, a school, and sometimes even a baseball field or basketball court. However, it is completely different from how you would picture a town in America. The houses are mostly made of sheets of metal or wood and the fences are made of sticks and barbed wire. Most families don’t have running water, electricity, or a car. The grocery store is a tiny little building where they sell drinks, a few snacks, and bags of water. The churches and schools are normally one room buildings with scarce supplies. Seeing this made me realize how grateful I should be for the life I have. Although, even though these people were living far below the poverty line and would give anything to even have cold water they were smiling and welcomed us into their villages with open arms. They expressed to us how grateful they were that we were there with them and would try to give us gifts to show their appreciation. One little boy even tried to buy me a piece of cake with the few coins his father gave him, he still wanted me to have something.
I met so many people while in the Dominican Republic, but when I think back to each one of them I think of one thing, bravery. Everyone I met, from a little girl with cerebral palsy to a women that came out of prostitution and now works in the mission field, these people amazed me in every way. They inspired me to look past my goals of becoming rich so I can lead a comfy life and made me see what is really important, love. Only brave people realize that love is worth more than any material item. Going to the Dominican Republic changed my outlook on life and inspired me to be brave.
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