Wow. Lots of feelings going through my head right now. I’m in the capital on my way back to my site and lots of ideas about my service, mental health, project plans and hopes for the future are swirling. Our Appropriate Technologies sector just got done with a three day “In Service Training” where we got to talk about our project accomplishments, challenges and effective work practices. It was one of the most productive few days of my service being able to bounce ideas off other trusted volunteers and get ideas on how to combat project problems. Stresses have included problems with the water committee and the community’s inconsistency paying quotas on a regular basis. I was reinforced in my own ideas and as a group we brainstormed a way to work together to train and enable community members to work in Water Committees. Basically, I’m excited to take some of this back to my community, get things better organized and build some confidence into community leaders.
Anyway, that was a mouthful, but this is all running through my head. I’m excited, but I’m going to need help from other volunteers and project partners to get it done. Meanwhile, I have been feeling good about progress and hope with community projects despite a few problems. I have been sticking with my routines and started up a boys group over the last month which piggy-backed off of the Camp Superman last month too. The camp was one of the highlights of my service as a volunteer and it inspired me to sign up for the National Camp Superman which runs the 26-30 of this month. Super stoked to sing my Superman song (adaptation of Pharaoh Pharaoh/Louis Louis with lots of thrusting). The hike I mentioned in the last email was absolutely incredible as well. Turns out I can fulfill the need for nostalgia here in the DR by going into the pine covered cool mountains in the central mountain range. It felt just like home. We hiked 35+ miles, saw some beautiful pine forests, lots of planted vegetables and a beautiful two-tiered 280 ft waterfall. Definitely need to get out and explore the island more on foot with tent in hand.
Besides all of this, the projects are moving along more or less. We might actually get tin sheeting donated from Project Las Americas in addition to the matching money they are already putting forward for latrines! Really exciting, but we’ll see, because the sheeting is really expensive. I’m trying to finish up my project plan for the latrines also, but we got materials up the mountain for 7 latrines, so we should have those done in a few weeks, assuming we can get the contracts and expectations cleared with the community. The ram pump is installed and running again, but there are minor problems (as always). We got water pumping up to the road, but only while I was monitoring the pump and making it work. I need to fiddle around with some of the components to see if I can improve its reliability… we’ll see what I can do. Rotary money should be coming in within a month or so too, so I foresee things getting very busy!!
I think the enthusiasm I gained from this last week with give me a needed and some newly needed skills to push towards the next phases of the projects. I hope beyond all hope that the community is willing to not only ride along with me but push back as we take on more difficult goals and fight against a long legacy of misplaced ideas and illiteracy within the local people. Wish me luck as I try to swim upstream and pray that I do not just take the path of least resistance.
Lastly… I was speaking with a few Dominican friends the other day and somehow we began to talk about which animal best described us. I mentioned the long necked, awkward, lanky characteristics of the giraffe and the two friends laughed and remarked that, yes, I am too tall for this country. Additionally, my friend Francis mentioned that the giraffe has the largest heart of all land animals, to pump its blood up that giant neck to its brain. I hope that, as with giraffes, I can live into that reality too.