“…it’s OK to be leaving and I’m able to go, only because I know that I will return one day.”

Kimberly loving “Carlitos” at the los Cocos School

It’s been two weeks since we left the Dominican Republic and I miss it terribly. We flew out of Santo Domingo to Atlanta, Georgia and as we started to land in Atlanta, I remember looking out of the window and feeling guilty. We were flying over huge houses that had water and electricity, houses that had backyards with play sets for children, cities that had skyscrapers and fast food places on every street, and developed highways lined with expensive cars. I felt guilty that this was what we were coming back to; these are luxuries that are in our lives every day, while we just left a place where people don’t have the chances to enjoy these luxuries like we do. The people in Boca Chica and surrounding areas work hard every day and come home to houses that are made of scraps of metal with no electricity and are barely big enough for their family. Children don’t have school buses that pick them up every day for school, but rather these children are forced to walk miles back and forth. Some of the schools that we worked in consisted of one room with desks that were falling apart and the schools had hardly any supplies for the students. It was just hard to realize that even though we adapted to life in the Dominican during our time there, we can easily go back to our comfortable lives in the U.S.

The trip changed my life, which I expected that it would, but I never imagined to this extent. I am so grateful that I got a chance to work with Caminante to help educate children of the Dominican Republic. Education is very important to me and to be able to pass on knowledge about topics that these children wouldn’t normally be educated about, meant a lot to me. I really hope that the children took a lot from our lessons and I hope that the teachers will continue on with our lessons to reinforce them. These children are capable of learning so much, but they just need the opportunity to learn. If these children are given the opportunity then I know that they can do great things in their lifetimes.

Leaving the Dominican Republic was very emotional for all of us. The people at Caminante, our hotel, and friends that we made along the way became like family in just a matter of eighteen days. If we had the chance to stay longer, I know that all of us would’ve stayed. But as I was leaving, I told myself that it’s OK to be leaving and I’m able to go, only because I know that I will return one day. I would love to go back, perhaps during my time in optometry school and educate them on eye care and to provide glasses to those in need.

I want to thank Caminante especially for allowing us to teach in their classrooms and for treating us like family. The work that all of you do is amazing and you are all amazing people. The workers of Caminante are huge role models and devote their lives to helping others. We were only there for eighteen days to help, but you help these children and families every day. Thank you for everything!

-Kim

Team Caminante 2012 with Julito’s boys

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