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Volunteering in the Dominican Republic - Part 2

The Children of the Dominican Republic

We arrived for our 20-minute orientation that lasted a full 2 hours - welcome to Dominican time. Not that I complained. I adapted quickly, happily shedding the highly driven rush that I maintained back at home in Canada and adopted the slow, easy way of living.

As we were being introduced to the children, I felt this energy radiating from each classroom. The children looked so happy and in Spanish, their teachers told us they were extremely excited to have new English Volunteer VacationsVolunteer Vacationsspeaking volunteers at their school. Escuela Cafe con Leche, in the area of El Cafe just outside of Santo Domingo receives funding and special programming by several local and international not-for-profit organizations and foundations.

For the next twelve weeks of our teaching placement, we created lesson plans using resources from home and previous volunteers. We taught colors, numbers, weather, greetings, animals and clothing. My partner Olivia and I were greeted with wide smiles, enthusiasm and daily chants of English, English, English... we had great fun.

The children captured our hearts.

Before class, they stood in lines, facing the Dominican flag and sang the national anthem followed by a Catholic prayer. They wore little blue shirts and khaki bottoms and somber smiles. Then they broke out in giggles and pushed each other all the way to their classrooms to have their government sponsored milk and bread breakfast.

Throughout the day but mostly during recess, many tiny arms reached out and held our waists, necks and legs tightly. Behind our ears, they tucked little handpicked flowers, all in vibrant colors. We skipped, played hand-clapping games and took pictures. They loved to pose for photos with our sunglasses. They played with our hair and once Olivia found a sucker tangled in hers.

We laughed and cringed as we pulled that little surprise from her hair. The little boys stole quick hugs and sometimes kisses when they thought they weren´t being watched by their peers. Several times during those months, Olivia and I stood facing each other over top of these children heads, in awe of the intense emotional experience we were sharing together on that playground.

We saw poverty, resilience and creative imaginations. Children without shoes and shirts played with orange juice box containers as baseballs and wooden sticks as bats. We saw children with nasty rashes go to school where there was no toilet paper or soap and one shared water faucet for 400 children. We watched as little boys screamed happily down the street pretending a broken metal chair was a horse.

Volunteering in the Dominican RepublicVolunteering in the Dominican Republic One day a little girl put her head on her desk and cried softly to herself, we found out that she did not have a pencil. Even after we gave her one, she kept her head low and was still visibly shaken. We realized quickly that her tears also carried shame.

On our last day, Olivia and I distributed more than 400 gifts. It was an amazing experience. We gave educational games, chocolates, basketballs, pencils, hair clips, toys and calculators. Surprisingly many teachers approached us to also receive calculators saying that it would help them do their job.

Can you imagine being a teacher without a calculator?

Each child expressed sincere gratitude and joy as they received their gift. We were so focused on giving during this experience that we did not anticipate how much we got back from them. Along with all the hugs and kisses, we received hundreds of handwritten thank you notes and drawings and a little cake. They sang to us and read poetry and said things in English but most of all they gave us love. The love was so intense that between classroom good-byes, we retreated to the office to sob.

That day only 12 weeks after our orientation day, we left the school changed women.

About Kelly McIntyre

Kelly holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and has nearly ten years professional experience working directly with individuals to facilitate action toward their employment and life goals. In 2007, Kelly faced her deepest fears, developed new personal truths and followed her dreams of living in the sun and moved to the Caribbean! Now as a Career/Life Coach, Kelly applies her knowledge of how to create a life you love at Discover Your Life Purpose.  

More of Kelly:

Read Part 2 ~ The Children

Read Part 3 ~ Transportaion in the Domincan Republic

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Comments

I am Dominican.. From Santo Domingo.. and honestly this post really made me cry... God Bless you a lot.. for the work you did in my country... we need more pple like you in this world..i am pretty sure that u changed some lives in the process and that u really brought happy moments to those kids.. thank you from a Dominican Girl. Mariel Lantigua Santo Domingo Republica Dominicana

WAOOO, THAT WAS GREAT, IM DOMINICAN AND I LIVE I CANADA, IM CRYING RIGHT NOW, JUST REMEMBER ME WHEN I WAS A KID, THANKYOU VERY MUCH FOR DOIN THAT, GOD WILL BLESS YOU ALOT,

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