In late July of 2014, I retracted back to my “home” village in the Dominican Republic for a week. By joining the Village Mountain Mission the year before with my mom, and building homes for impoverished and stranded families, I fell in love with not only mission work but also a village called Cambiaso. This village is located near Luperon, but about an hour and a half away from the city. Before our first visit to Cambiaso, I pictured acres of mountainous farmland, many loose animals, and beaten-down houses. After we had arrived, the level of poverty that enfaced and surrounded us astounded me.
Getting out of the traditional red truck we all piled into, we were in awe of how beautiful our worksite was. The village is on a white beach with scattered trees and many bubbly shaped leaves. People living in Cambiaso live in huts made from anything they can find, but mainly palm tree. Melancholy, they are torn apart quite often by major waves, strong winds, and heavy rain. Most huts have only one mattress inside for the entire family to share placed on the dirt floor. They become very dirty and damp from any rain that seeps through the roof. Also, families may have a homemade table or donated plastic chairs. All the villagers warmly welcomed my group. We got to know them a little better every day and even though we can’t speak the same language, it is not difficult to communicate and grow relationships with them.
The kids love the attention we give them while building, and appreciate our cultural difference of affection and care we show them. In the D.R., children don’t have much of a childhood. Parents there focus on teaching the importance of supporting your family for survival. By age ten, they have full-time jobs, and are expected to look after their siblings. Very few can get an education because of the needed support financially and lack of schools for children in remote villages like Cambiaso. The kids I have gotten to know do not even know simple things like their alphabet or the months of the year. The majority of the kids who attend school don’t make it past the fifth grade.
Throughout the week, we were able to complete a house for a family of eight. They are formed however the family wants them, and made with block and/or wood. They have cement floors and tin roofs and as many windows as they please. This gives the family protection from storms, reduces the risk of flooding, and gives them a new, confident, outlook on themselves.
After moving the family into their fresh new house, we had a carnival for all the kids in the village. It was my job to plan the events this year for about seventy-five kids, and it was such an amazing experience. We had stations of different games like sac-races, tug of war, nail and face painting, tattoos, parachute games, and much more. I gave each member of our crew a game to run, and everyone put total effort and added his or her own personal ideas to each game.
Unintentionally, we have all noticed from last year to this year how much Cambiaso has grown and how their culture has changed just by them watching how we interact with them. This year the parents have started paying more attention to their kids; they comfort them instead of scolding, and share what they have. This mission trip has truly affected my family and we will continue to support our Dominican friends.
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