I have been meaning to post pictures from our most recent Dominican Republic trip for some time and have finally gotten around to it. I apologize for the delay and hope you enjoy the visuals.
One of our first stops was to a community called La Yaguita de Pastor. This is a poverty stricken suburb of Santiago with a population of about 25,000. While there, we visited a local home and were able to spend some time with sponsored children. We were able to provide them with a few gifts, blow bubbles, and were quite amused while watching some of the adults fumble through an attempt to show the kids how to use a Rainbow Loom. There were many lessons learned that day, but one that should not be ignored: YouTube “how-to” videos are a gift from God 😉
We spent much of our trip in the village of Villa Gonzalez, where Project Mañana focuses much of it’s efforts.
From Project Manana’s website: “One of the poorest areas in the country of the Dominican Republic, Villa González (and specifically the refugee community of San Pablo) is home to more than 330 families. This community was established by the Dominican government several years ago after several families were displaced from their homes during Hurricane David. The average HOUSEHOLD income is $75-$100 US per month and each household is estimated at 6-8 people. We estimate that there are between 800-1,000 children (under age 18) living in the community. Drug use and prostitution are prevalent.
There is no clean water in the area and electricity is sporadic with only about 2-4 hours of power per day. There are no schools or medical services in the area. The closest public school is a dangerous 30-minute walk on a busy freeway (watch the video). The closest doctor or hospital is a 20-30 minute drive (and most people do not have cars or transportation)”.
Project Mañana has established a feeding center in the community that is currently providing a nutritious meal to ~100 children a day; a meal that they may not get otherwise. They will also be opening a school very soon and have started a project that provides clean water. The work in Villa Gonzalez is just getting started and God has so much more to do here.
I would also like to add that the people of Villa Gonzalez, not unlike most of the country, are warm, gracious, and hospitable. They have very little in terms of material possessions and, for the most part, seem to be generally unbothered (in terms of attitude) by this. The children in the village have a way of melting your heart with their eyes (oh the eyes, they get me every time). We were able to spend a lot of time visiting with the kids and loving on them. Connie and I both are looking forward to getting to know more of the people of Villa Gonzalez and sharing God’s love with them on a regular basis.
Towards the end of our trip we were able to visit one of the many beaches of the Dominican Republic. Droves of people flock to this Caribbean island every year to soak up the beauty of the country’s perimeter. The beauty is awe-inspiring and is a great reminder of how perfect God’s creation is. At the same time there is a reminder of how man has corrupted His perfect creation. On our way back to the van it was obvious that some questionable “transactions” were happening just feet from us. It occurred to me that the island, in comparison, is much like it’s people. Warm, inviting, and beautiful on the outside but venture a little deeper and you discover issues that can only be cured by God’s grace and love.
One of the last areas we visited was Bonao. This is a rural area of the country about an hour outside of Santiago known for tobacco farming and strip mining. The countryside here is beautiful but, again, inhabited by folks with very basic needs. On this day, we partnered with another group that is providing humanitarian support to people in the area. Here we distributed much needed bags of food and water filters.
Needless to say we had an amazing trip. We brought back hundreds of pictures and memories and I would love to share them all, but hope the above provides a little taste of what our trip was like. I would like to reiterate that God is doing awesome things through Project Mañana in the Dominican Republic. I cannot put into words how elated we are that God has called us to action and invited us to join what he is doing there. I must also reiterate that we are asking all our friends and family to seek God’s guidance about partnering with us. Visit our support page to learn more.