Archive for March 2011

A Week in the Life of the CCI Director   3 comments

The Old Sugarcane Train

I thought I should give readers a taste of what it is like to live in the Dominican Republic and work on a grassroots community development project.  The following is a summary of typical weekly activities in my life here in Consuelo.  Please feel free to post comments if you have questions or want more details.

Locos Para Leer

I’m trying to start my days with a short jog.  Then is it back to the house/community center for a cold bucket bath (a bath using stored water and a small container to pour the water on yourself to bathe).  Literacy lessons start at 9:00 am, but I can usually hear kids swarming outside by 8:30 am.  We say they are loco para leer (crazy about reading), because they come so early–punctuality is not a Dominican trait.  The doors open at 9 am for the first literacy group of about 10 kids.  Each groups stays for an hour.  We review the letters and sounds we have covered up to that point and then each kid reads the book they are on in the 36 books literacy series.  If they pass, the put a sticker on the chart!  Each morning, there are two groups in the morning and two groups in the afternoon.  Some groups have literacy coach volunteers and some of the groups are stuck with just me.

In the morning, after the last group finishes at about 11 am, there is usually not electricity.  I use the charge in my computer battery until it goes out to work on administrative tasks.  When the light returns in the evening around 9 pm, I continue.

For lunch, Doña Dora, who runs a small cafeteria across the street serves me up typical Dominican dishes like la bandera (rice, beans, and chicken), moro (rice cooked with beans), locrio (rice cooked with meat), or sancocho (a stew of tubers and meat).  After lunch, I must admit I succumb to the siesta and take a short nap.  At 3 pm, literacy groups start up again.

Ambulance Donated to Consuelo

In addition to literacy groups, I am working with the Pro-Ambulance Committee of Consuelo to procure ambulances for the community.  Consuelo, a town of about 40,000, does not have an ambulance or paramedic services.  I worked with the international relief organization Project C.U.R.E. based in Denver as an intern.  With the help of Project C.U.R.E. and a grant it received from the Major League Baseball Players Association, the first ambulance should be arriving in a few weeks!

Saturdays, I am teaming up with a recently arrived Peace Corps Volunteer named Sasha.  She has been placed in one of Consuelo’s most marginalized neighborhoods called Los Filiú.  Los Filiú is almost completely populated by Haitian-Dominican immigrants.  Community activists in the neighborhood have started a community organization called AUFE (Love, Union, Faith, and Hope).  This group has been asking me to teach them English for months.  Finally, the classes are about to begin, but using the Service for Aid model.  I have asked that rather than being an English class, that it be a language exchange—– we will be learning English, Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish.  Members of the language group must complete community service before the class begins.

We just got our hair done!

Projects designed by the group include: collecting rocks and discarded building materials to prepare the dirt roads for the rainy season and offering haircuts for boys and hair-dos for girls of AUFE’s tutoring program.  CCI literacy volunteers can use their service time as entrance into the course as well.

Service for Aid: Preparing the streets for rain

On top of all this, throw in washing, cleaning, eating, going to church, playing with kids, meeting with members of other social organizations to discuss collaboration, searching for funding, tutoring kids who aren’t in the program but plead for a extra help, responding to e-mails, and learning how to not lose at Dominican dominos.  I’m busy, but I love it.

My handy-dandy washier/dryer

After a month-and-a-half of literacy lessons, kids are coming and saying, “My teacher says I’m doing better!” or “Profé, do you think I’m really learning to read?”  It is all worth it.  Thank you all for your support.  Please consider making a monthly donation at www.cciinfo.org to help us continue connecting humanity to its potential.  Thank you!

Trying not to lose

Posted March 17, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized