Every year I have the pleasure of leading a team to the Dominican Republic to work in the small rural village of Hato Del Yaque. This community is rampant with drugs, prostitution, and children who are on the streets because of absentee parents.
Our team of 29 adults and children just returned from the 2014 trip, which included a construction project and outreach to the children. This year for the first time the trip also included a medical clinic.
A few weeks before this trip I made a request to our customers, via email and our Facebook page, for help in purchasing Adult and Children's cold syrups. Much to my surprise our customers contributed over $2800 in generous donations (both cash and dropping off medications) to assist our team.
It is my pleasure to announce that this past week, our team was able to serve 450 adults and children with their medical needs in the Dominican Republic ... AND ... we left behind additional medications to continue assisting needy people in a full time free clinic in Santiago, DR.
How amazing it is to have such great customers who understand how fortunate we are to be born as Americans in this time and place, and our call to help those in need around the world. Below I've shared a few photos and notes from our summer 2014 trip to the Dominican Republic. On behalf of myself (Brian) and our entire team ... THANK YOU so much for partnering with us in this great adventure, and for being a part of a chapter in the story being written in this impoverished community.
This year our construction project was building a permanent basketball and volleyball court on site at the community center. This will provide a place for kids to come and participate in organized sports, and get one-on-one mentoring from caring adults, as we attempt to develop leaders within the young men and women of this community.
Our part of working on the basketball courts was manually moving around dirt and rock. With a limited budget, in a remote area, and very few power tools available, this meant shovels, wheel barrows and yes ... even just picking up rocks and throwing them to build up the foundation to pour concrete.
Several children on the trip (including my two oldest daughters), were able to get in on the rock moving actions as well.
And while on the subject of our American kids, what an amazing job they did serving the people of this community. I enjoyed watching our kids and the kids of this community play together. You wouldn't know there was a language barrier or social-economic difference. When kids get together ... none of that stuff matters.
This is my oldest daughter Kennedy with her friend Diana that we've really gotten to know over the last few years. Diana's mom is a member of the church, and actually help prepare the meals for our teams when we visit.
This was my 7th time facilitating a team to the Dominican Republic, but our first medical clinic. I am very thankful for all the support in preparing for the trip, and the amazing group of volunteers who went with us to conduct the clinic.
You may recognize Dr. Annabelle Martin who is a pediatrician right here in Fort Myers. Her entire family joined us on this trip, and she was one of the lead physicians in the medical clinic that served 450 adults and children.
At the medical clinic we would see entire families, many of whom had waited in lines for several hours to be seen.
I think this photo, taken on the steps of the clinic, might just be my favorite photo of the entire trip. It just melts my heart.
One of the unexpected patients of the medical clinic was my wife Karen, who fell off of a ladder while painting the community center in Hato Del Yaque. The diagnosis was a broken arm, and we just so happened to have a non-surgical orthopedic specialist on our trip to fix her right up.
Each day of the week, except Sunday, we would serve the kids food as part of the nutrition program in Hato Del Yaque. Our agency sponsors several kids in this program. There are 100 kids in this program, and each child receives 1-hot meal per day, 6-days per week because of the generous donations of friends right here in Southwest Florida.
On Saturday, we put on a children's program in two different communities. One of the communities, known as "the hole", is literally a landfill in Santiago filled with tiny one-room homes that seem to be sliding off the side of the mountain.
After seven trips over the last three years to this community, the thing I look forward to the most is seeing our friends who are there. While there is a language barrier (and every time I come home I swear I'm going to learn Spanish), we've still somehow managed to bond to a point that each trip feels a little like a family reunion now.
We are just a very small part of a much larger story happening in Hato Del Yaque and the Dominican Republic. The task of making any sort of difference seems overwhelming, but as my friend Jen (who is a permanent missionary to this community) said this past week ... "do for one, what you'd like to do for many". I like that!
We hope you will consider joining us on a future trip. If you would like more information, or would like to considering sponsoring a child, making a donation, or joining us on a future trip, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dios Te Bendiga