Hu­man­i­tar­ian work in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - By Lance Wil­son

Me­lanie and I par­tic­i­pated in a week­long hu­man­i­tar­ian ser­vice pro­ject to the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic with a group called the Do­mini­can Starfish Foun­da­tion (www. do­mini­canstarfish.org) in co­op­er­a­tion with PAL Hu­man­i­tar­ian.

We do­nated money and helped raise funds prior to our de­par­ture, which were used upon our ar­rival to help the foun­da­tion con­struct new homes for less for­tu­nate fam­i­lies whose homes were con­demned or who were left home­less due to fire or other dis­as­ters.

Our group of 20 raised the funds and par­tic­i­pated in the con­struc­tion of the foun­da­tion’s 25th home and be­gan the de­mo­li­tion of their 26th home. These fam­i­lies were liv­ing in ex­treme cir­cum­stances of poverty and hunger. They were iden­ti­fied by the foun­da­tion as can­di­dates for new homes and we were able to work with the fam­i­lies, lo­cal work­ers and other vol­un­teers in sev­eral ar­eas of the con­struc­tion process.

The work was very tir­ing and stren­u­ous but su­per ful­fill­ing and grat­i­fy­ing. We were also able to col­lect do­nated cloth­ing, hats, shoes, sun­glasses and medicine, which we used to dis­trib­ute to a refugee camp of Haitian and Do­mini­can refugees whose 64 homes were de­stroyed by a large fire in June. The fire oc­curred in a shan­ty­town where the late-night blaze spread from house to house, caus­ing wide­spread dam­age to this very poor neigh­bor­hood. These in­di­vid­u­als were with­out homes, beds, cloth­ing, shoes and food.

Our group of 20 were able to dis­trib­ute food items, cloth­ing, shoes and vi­ta­mins to over 200 in­di­vid­u­als. Our group also vis­ited and do­nated items to a school, pe­di­atric hos­pi­tal and a nurs­ing home.

Lance Wil­son stands in the town square of Munoz, a vil­lage out­side of Puerto Plata in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic. This vil­lage was rav­aged by fire, de­stroy­ing 64 homes. In the back­ground, the bare earth that used to be the lo­ca­tion of many of the de­stroyed homes can be seen. To the left are some of the homes built out of block that were dam­aged by fire but are still stand­ing.

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