Life after the Dominican Republic…

Becca (and her butterfly antennae) with a few students at the "Los Botaos" homework room.

Well it has been a few weeks since we landed back in the United States and I have found myself missing the DR more each day. Every day I am confronted by friends and family who ask me about my trip. And honestly, I never know where to begin. Sometimes I find that I am speechless or can’t find the right words to describe the trip. I know I am not alone in this feeling, and it is almost impossible to explain what our group encountered while working with Caminante in the DR.

I have never met such an inspirational group of people. I also have never become part of a family as quickly as we all became part of Caminante. They welcomed us with open arms and even more open hearts. They set aside their plans to accommodate us and our travels. In return, we were able to give them a little over a week of our undivided attention and help share and combine our knowledge with theirs. Different groups encountered different obstacles, but one thing was evident everywhere you looked…poverty. Our most personal encounter with poverty involved the street boys we befriended. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we fell in love with these boys. They stole my heart from day one. With their huge smiles, tattered clothes, and missing shoes, boys like Junior, Samuel, and Victor constantly made me reconsider everything in my life. All of my problems suddenly seemed so small, so insignificant. These boys with almost nothing seemed to have everything. Most importantly they had happiness. The lessons I learned from just spending time with these boys have stuck with me even upon returning home. I try not to “sweat the small stuff” anymore. There are so many problems in the world already and by me being another sad person I accomplish nothing. Along with all the sadness and pain in the world, there is also so much love. And these boys and the individuals at Caminante showed us what I believe to be pure love.

Becca & Cristina with Julito's Boys

The language barrier was a problem at times, but as we soon learned…hugs and kisses are universal (and so are insults!) We often joked around with the boys about being “feo” which translates to ugly in English. They gave us an opportunity to practice our meager Spanish and we gave them the chance to use phrases like “How are you?” and “My name is…” While in the homework rooms my group had the opportunity to teach children about dinosaurs and plants and all sorts of things that we take for granted in the United States. They were so happy to just blow bubbles or color a picture. Materials that hold such little value back home, made a world of difference in the DR. The nursing group was especially challenged each day with what they saw and the emotions they endured. Their courage and strength to continue to assess these children, some abused and malnourished, astounds me. They are truly remarkable individuals. The microfinance group was able to jump-start a microfinance program for women involved with Caminante. The tools they used and developed will continue to be used and hopefully benefit even more people. And it’s these moments that will stay with me forever. This trip allowed me to see a side to my professors and fellows students that I would never have had a chance to see while at Hiram. Everyone opened up to this experience and learned so much from it.

Lacey & Becca with a few of our students.

Of course I probably forgot to mention some things, but the truth is I could never sum up this entire trip. I am so thankful for the time our professors volunteered, the generosity of everyone at Caminante, and my peers that accompanied me on this trip. You are all incredible people and I know we’ll be reminiscing about this trip for years to come.

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