S-Trip! Destination: Southern Dominican Sun, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
March Break 2017
This March Break, S-Trip! travelers had the opportunity to go back to Veron, in the Punta Cana region of Dominican Republic. Veron is a small community that is home to about 200 families. With a high Haitian population (not official citizens), it is difficult for most children to attend a registered school or for adults to find lasting work. The community ambassador, Maria, understands the importance of education and helped fundraise to build a primary school. Previously, S-Trip! has worked with Maria and The NWC, a Canadian charity, to construct the second floor of the school, including a computer lab. In March of 2016, S-Trip! started working on Maria’s second dream, a community centre from the ground up.
This March, S-Trip! students were transporting materials upstairs, laying bricks and mixing and pouring concrete to add a second floor to the community centre, which will be used as a Boys and Girls Club.
During the community clean up rotation, the students saw firsthand how their small contribution was positively impacting the community. People of all ages from the community were joining in to help take care of their streets. Although there is still work to be done, the cleanliness of the streets of Veron has increased significantly since S-Trip! has been visiting.
Last but definitely not least was the rotation with the local children, a traveler’s favourite. Passengers had the opportunity to play games and do different activities with the kids. The kids were so excited to hang out with the S-Trip! travelers and the feeling was definitely mutual. From playing “Pato, Pato, Ganso!” (Duck, Duck, Goose) to playing with large bouncy balls or simply giving piggy back rides, the enthusiasm was out of this world!
All in all, it was an incredible and unique experience for each traveler. Whether it was engaging in hard labour in the hot sun for the first time, communicating to children in ways other than English, or from getting that warm and heart-filled hug from Maria, it was a feeling they will never forget. Myself, the NWC staff and the travelers have a strong hope for the future of Veron. There is no wonder where the community gets its second name - Villa Esperanza or Village of Hope - from.
Written by Theresa LaForest, the on-site Volunteer Coordinator for Punta Cana.