Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yale Service Tour to the DR -- Day 7 and Day 8

Thursday, March 17

Today was going to be pretty different than all of the others.  We were going to split into groups to pass out information about cholera.  Cholera is a real problem in nearby Haiti and we had heard it had spread to part of the DR.  In fact, another Yale group -- called Yspaniola -- was working near us and one of their people came down with cholera and had to be sent to a hospital. 

It took a little while for the cholera campaign to get going.  When it did, we went in small groups to hand out literature about cholera, chlorinating water and the importance of washing hands.  Our package for every house included a bar of soap.

As we went door-to-door, most people were a little wary.  One woman, Austria, knew who we were (she worked in the clinic) and insisted that we come in.  She showed us her home, which was immaculate, and pictures of her kids.  My daughters have done well, she beamed.  One is married and lives in Spain.  The other is at the university. 

Then, she introduced us to her friend, who was there to get a facial.  You see, one of the women in our group taught to local women about skin care.  The idea was that they might be able to take these ideas and start a business.  Well, Austria was very excited about it, and started working on her friend right there.  You never know what might work.  This project sure did.

Juando and his burro were our guide during the cholera campaign
With the cholera campaign over, we took a bus ride through the countryside to see the other communities like Las Charcas.  The scene was familiar by then, but no less moving or sad. 

When our drive was complete, we spent some time at the pool and then had down time at our hotels.  Tyler and I decided to go to see the Cathedral in San Juan de la Maguana.  It is a beautiful building with a walk that let's you see the whole city from the top of its dome.

San Juan from atop the Cathedral

More views of San Juan de la Maguana

As we went through the Cathedral, Tyler spotted an apt sign that was posted on the alter.  "Pretty much sums up the week, doesn't it, Dad?" Tyler asked.  Yes, Tyler, it pretty much does:

"I have not come to be served, but to serve"

Our final night in San Juan was actually a night back in the school.  The main courtyard had been set up to be a party.  And, it was a great party.  WeiYin and Remy's dancers put on a great show.  A band played and everyone danced. (Las Novias were there, too.  That's a whole different story, though, and I have been sworn to secrecy.)

Yale's Bhangra team, who had been teaching dance, put on a display that is hard to explain.  I had never seen Bhangra before and had no idea what it was.  It is Indian-infused hip-hop dance, done in a group.  Think Bollywood on steroids.  The four Yalies performing it were great -- and how they kept smiles on their faces during their energetic dance, I do not know.  (I am still tired just thinking about it. )  I do know that the Las Charcas kids were gobsmacked.  They stood there with their mouths open wide as their conception of dance and what it could be was expanded on the spot.  

Once the party was over, we headed back to the hotel to pack.  As we did, we started to think about all that we had seen and all the people we had met.  Although we were excited to see our family again, we knew we would miss all of the people we had met.

Friday, March 18  

The next morning, at breakfast, Mark asked me what I had been thinking the night before.  I was torn, I said, because I did not know, as I said goodbye to our piano students with hugs and fist bumps, whether we were witnessing a beginning or an end.  Both, I hope.  An end to our trip, but a beginning of new possibility for the kids.  That's my hope, at least. 

Soon, we boarded buses and headed back to Santo Domingo.  On the way, we stopped at a beach near Azua that was spectacular.  Really amazing.  Remote, serene and totally peaceful.  It was relaxing and it felt to me as if we were divers decompressing. 

We then made it back to Santo Domingo, where we shared one last night together over dinner. This dinner was much fancier than any other before it.  We hugged, and said our goodbyes.  I was very sad to go.  I really liked these people.  We had done good work together and gotten to know each other pretty well in a short time.  It was a very special group, one I hope to see again.

No comments:

Post a Comment