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From Mark Robinson, FOTOCAN:
Like to try something different . . .
always wanted to volunteer and make a difference . . .
Consider a “Working Holiday”, a change of pace . . . consider a volunteer trip to the orphanage in the Dominican Republic. We have been going to the Dominican Republic since 2006.
There are many things to do such as landscaping, gardening, painting, carpentry work, construction work, helping the English teacher at the school with her class, helping in the Library, art with the children, helping at the baby house and special needs house, working with the adult care givers, outreach projects to some of the surrounding villages, sorting donations to go to Haiti and many other things. If you have a special talent or a project you would like to do with the children or the adult care givers, we can help make it happen. We have had quite a cross-section of ages from 11 (with an adult guardian) to over 73. There is no job too small or too large to do. Friends of the Orphans Canada is the Canadian charitable organization that supports the NPH (Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos - “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) Orphanages in 9 Spanish speaking Central American Countries.
Cost to make the Dominican Republic trip is $2,500. (a tax receipt is available for the full amount). You can pay the funds yourself or do a variety of fundraisers, solicit friends, relatives, church family, etc.
The dates for the 2011 trips are . . . .
Jan. 24 to Feb. 7, 2011 – Nicaragua – this will be a construction only trip – there are no children on site – you will be living in tents. Cost is $2,500.
Monday, Feb. 14 to Monday, Feb. 28 – Dominican Republic**
Monday, Feb. 28 to Monday, March 14 – Dominican Republic**
Monday, March 14 to Monday, March 28 – Dominican Republic**
**Note - within the above DR trips, there will be a one week trip to work at the Orphanage in Haiti. This is available on a first come basis for only 8 people. Additional cost is an additional $200. We must have 8 people to make this part happen.
Thanks so much!
As we did last year, at the end of the trip we collected all the pictures that each team member has taken over the journey and select a handful of moments that we feel represent the experience.These are the memory that will last a lifetime and despite the challenges, will always remind us that what we are doing is a small part of what as a global community we can achieve.
For those interested in learning how we manage the water supply to irrigate the various areas on the orpahange as well as at the outreach centre this year I asked Terry Ormrod, Canadian residential/commercial Sales Manager for Toro who has travelled with us both times to explain the process.
Since the idea of travelling to the Dominican to put our skills to use was hatched Terry has been a dedicated and passionate team member. He has arranged for hundreds of meters of irrigation piping (and fittings) for the project, this year Toro Ag department donated over a 1/4 mile of drip irrigation.
The irrigation mainline for the drip zones comes directly off of the pressurized line from the pump. This line goes from the pump (pump house) to the water holding tank on the roof of the building and the water level in the tank is controlled by a mechanical float switch. Kind of like a fancy toilet bowl float. Once the float goes down it opens a valve and allows the water to flow thus depleting the pressure tank in the pump-house and the pressure switch activates the pump. In the case of the irrigation system, Steve intercepted this line and once a zone valve is opened it once again depletes the pressure tank and the pump comes on. As long as the power is on the system will run 100%. When the power is off the entire irrigation system is out of service.
With the dawn of Day 5 you could feel the excitement in the air of what lay ahead for us this day. The plan for the morning was to pick up all the supplies required for our BBQ extravaganza at the village near the Don Juan outreach community centre. This included approximately 500 hotdogs,500 buns, 45 bottles of 2.5ltr Coke, 5 2Ltr ketchups bottles, 3 mayo bottles, 3 mustard bottles and 12 half litre cheese squeeze bottles (apparently cheese and mayo is very popular on hot dog in the DR). We also bought two large garbage bins to use as coolers for the drinks and some of the food, 450-500 individually wrapped suckers and individually wrapped cookies, 3-4 bags of charcoal and enough napkins and utensils for everyone.
We were able to buy all the at the Wal-Mart equivalent ‘Jumbo’ in San Pedro. Here is Mark’s video post as well as all of us leaving Jumbo and loading our truck with all the food/equipment.
Before the BBQ the team split in two with half going to the Don Juan outreach community centre to plant the 100 fruit trees our team purchased as well as lay over three quarter of a mile of drip irrigation kindly donated by the Toro Ag division. The idea of planting these trees here is that it will allow for centralised management of the process and once the plants become fruit bearing the fruit will be shares amongst 18 bateys with any remaining product being sold to help provide income for the villages to purchase other items they need.
Shawn & Jesse provide an update on the completed project.
The other half of the team returned to the orphanage to finish the rest of the sod laying with the help of some of the local Dominican workers and of course a dozen or so of the orphans, as it was Saturday and they weren’t in school. By mid afternoon all the sod that had been delivered was laid and we headed back to the outreach centre to prepare for the BBQ.
Before heading off to the village we had one more event to celebrate. Happy Birthday Rob! We all shared a delicious cake while some of us lay on the cool tiles to recover from the hottest day we had so far.
We arrived at the local village with all of the items we purchased earlier plus to big 44 gallon drum BBQs...you could feel the excitement in the air. As you as ‘big blue’ (our truck used to transport us and all of our equipment around for the week) arrived the work spread fast. We co-ordinated with the village teacher who spoke English thankfully, and the ‘mayor’ who also helped with some strategic planning. We set up station in one of the ‘school’ buildings. They had erected some shade for us (a tarp tied between two building that was low enough that when Rob, Ryan and Jordan were getting the BBQs started we thought the tarp might go up as well.
Each member of our team had their particular station, and got ready to the 4pm kick off.
A line up started form along the road where we were getting things started and soon the first children allowed in were ushered into the other school house to wait. Prior to our arrival we had arranged for tickets to be handed out to try and ensure each child got one hotdog and there weren’t any double ups.
Once Rob, Ryan & Jordan had cooked up the first batch of hotdogs we started bringing the kids through. Terry handed out the dogs, Jody on ketchup, Shawn on squeeze cheese and mustard, Greg on mayo, Steve & Mark on popcorn/lollypop/cookie duty and Jesse/Rob handing out Coke. There were many special moments but one that sticks in my mind was the children that were able to say thank you in English. We knew they were all very grateful, as were we for the opportunity to be able to participate in this event but to hear those two little words was very special. Also special were the signs welcoming and thanking us and these were posted on the side of the school building.
Thank you signs
If any of the other team members would like to post their comments or special moments from this event please share them in the comments section below.
As the afternoon went on the excitement continued and while we thought it was quite chaotic we were advised that actually this was one of the most organised events they have had.
The video will speak to their version of organised vs ours.....
A photo slide show of the event and the many happy, smiling faces:
We arrived at the orphanage today with plans to complete the extension to the soccer field. When we arrived the first truck load of sod was there however it arrived before we did and like last year it was just dumped on the ground off the back of the truck. Fortunately it appears that the sod guys have invested in a proper sod cutter the pieces of sod were at least mostly square although still not the rolls we are used to in Canada. Due to the delay in all the sod arriving, basically they cut the sod load it on the back of the truck and then deliver it, once off loaded they go back to the sod farm and cut and load the next load.
Steve from Halifax gives us an update later in the day. Thanks to our experience last we were able to get the sod laid more efficiently than initially expected.
Later in the day we took some of the supplies for the outreach program to the location where we will be installing irrigation and approximately 100 fruit tree. We were invited to try some of the existing fruit, in this case mandarins that are already growing on site, however Ryan manages to find the tree with the vespa (wasp) nest and while reaching for a mandarin was stung squarely on the nose. Luckily Rob was able to translate from one of the nuns on site and was told ‘ he wouldn't die’ which for Ryan may not of been the most reassuring....the good news is she was correct and Ryan was able continue on.
Since I have had to post day 2 and day 3 together I will keep this post fairly short and let the videos speak for themselves.
Work on the soccer field extension continues, we are expecting our sod to arrive tomorrow morning however we still have some preparation to complete before we can start to laying the sod.
We completed the irrigation on the yucca field next to the clinic.
At the end of the day we took a tour of some of the batey’s in the area. The bateys are the ‘villages’ created by the sugar cane companies to house the, mostly Haitian workers. Most of these villages we built in the 70s and while the government is responsible for maintaining these building most of them are in very poor condition with up to 12 family members living, sleeping and eating in rooms no larger than an small living room. Despite the condition the people living here are very friendly and welcoming inviting us into their ‘homes’ very graciously. A lot of these rooms have leaking roofs and walls that are crumbling cinder block. What was most interesting for those of us that were here last year was the comparison between the bateys that are near the orphanage which have benefitted greatly from the volunteer groups that visit the orphanage and work they do in these bateys and the ones we saw today. The orphanage has just started working with a group of Brazilian nuns to provide an outreach programs to these bateys as well. On Saturday our group is going to plant and irrigate an area with approximately 100 fruit trees that in couple of years will provide these bateys with fresh fruit they can eat and provide income by selling the excess.
Today the orphanage celebrated its 7th anniversary. For the children the morning started with mass in the newly constructed church. After that there were activities (singing and dancing) followed by lunch in the also newly constructed ‘Polly’s Park’ in the middle of the orphanage. Polly’s Park is dedicated to the wife of Frank Kraftt who first started the fundraising efforts for the orphanage.
For our team the morning started with beginning to level the ‘top soil’ in preparation for laying the sod on Friday while Rob and Jody worked on irrigating the yucca field next to the clinic.
Jesse from Ottawa and Greg from Vancouver gives us the update on the soccer field.
Rob’s update on the irrigation work taking place next to the medical clinic.
Lastly Kieren Rigney, Orphanage Director tells us about the activities for the day.
We arrived last night...with the Ontario crew arriving in around 9pm into La Romana with a short trip to our hotel and the Ottawa/Vancouver crew arriving in around midnight after a 2 hour bus ride form Punta Cana.
We arrived at the orphanage bright and early this morning with plenty of energy and anticipation of what lay ahead. For those us that were here last year it was the excitement of seeing the development over the last year and for the first timers it was the thrill of being able to put plans into action.
This year the theme is agriculture so we are utilising some of our irrigation equipment that we left behind last year as well as what we sent via container this year.
We have also been asked to expand the soccer field project we completed last year.
We are also going to complete an offsite, outreach project that will benefit some of the local 'bateys' (migrant sugercane worker villages - usually Haitian).
Here is my intro to the work we will complete at the outreach program.
Here is Greg’s recap of day 1 work on the soccer field.
Ryan and Terry give us an update on the irrigation work.
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