There is probably a book I could write about what we’ve experienced as well as accomplished since we arrived in the Dominican Republic. It’s not just a story about these last few days, it’s as much about our hopes to continue to support the dedicated people who have chosen to provide these orphans and children raised in poverty with their own hopes for the future.
The short version (with a longer one to come when I have a full day to write it) is that on Monday, we were able to drive to a place called Josiah’s House in a town called San Pedro de Macoris, about 90 minutes from where we’re staying in Santo Domingo.
Josiah’s House was founded by Sarah & Steve Berger in honor of their son, Josiah, who went to heaven at 19 following a single car accident as he was on his way to start his freshman year in college. The connection we feel to Steve and Sarah was enough to make us want to make the drive but we were also told that Josiah’s house is the gold standard of orphanages so we wanted to see what makes it so special.
Only 10 boys live at Josiah’s house but the plan is to expand. Grace Chapel, a church in Tennessee, owns the property for the Josiah’s House complex. There is a couple from Tennessee as well as a couple from the Dominican Republic who serve as house parents to the boys. And as you can see from the grounds, someone is very good at gardening. The facilities here are like living in a country house added to the fact that a large commercial bakery is just behind the property and it smells like fresh bread all day long.
Driving back from Josiah’s House our minds were racing after seeing this beautiful place . We brainstormed in the car about what we could do on this short visit to to best utilize the funds that we still had after buying all the sports equipment that we delivered on Saturday to the Remar orphanage.
Our main objective on this trip was to set up a computer lab at Tia Tatiana school in Herrera where up to 30 kids at a time now have access to learning through technology. We accomplished this lofty objective on Sunday with just a few loose ends that needed finishing up on Tuesday (since Monday was a holiday –Constitution Day). On the car ride from Josiah’s House we decided that we’d like to approach the principal and the teachers at Tia Tatiana school to see what would best answer their prayers for each of their classrooms from preschool through 12th grade .
We decided to pick one classroom for an “extreme makeover” so we could show the difference that this type of investment could make on the way the class functions. Our goal was also to have a before and after example that will help towards raising the additional funds to make this a reality in every classroom.
All day today was spent with Daniel, our dear, patient driver, navigating through Santo Domingo bumper to bumper traffic to find classroom work station tables and chairs. Our other team, driven by Ramón, was on supplies. Between Ikea for tables and a school supply store for chairs, we found what we needed for furniture. Our other team hit about 4 different stores and came back with lots of things that were on the teachers’ wish lists.
We were able to get the one classroom completely finished and since my camera is still at photo capacity, you’ll have to wait until Saturday to see the full visual results…yes, this post is a cliffhanger!
Tomorrow we’ll get to see the children (6th graders) come into their new classroom. Tomorrow we’ll also be heading home. We’re already planning to come back in April…hopefully with the funds to complete the classrooms AND with 12 volunteers to get the job done. Want to join us?