Hard Work Pays Off

Programs for this blog post

Leadership & Service in Youth Development

Authored By:

Kokayi Postell

Last week was quite labor intensive as we worked with two separate NGOs over the course of 4 days with a final summer camp on Friday. Our skills were put to the test. We made connections with the children of Hato del Yaque on Monday and Tuesday mainly through sports and outdoor activities. They had a nice recreational area which gave us the space to run around, play basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The students of CIEE would end their service work drenched in sweat but overflowing with good emotions as they could feel that a positive impact was being made on the children.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we worked with the children of Navarrete at a much smaller facility with no recreational space. You could feel that this community didn’t have access to as many resources, but they made up for it with the depth of their hearts. They were very enthusiastic to dance and play icebreaker games with us. This was one of the most welcoming communities and you could clearly see that the majority of their students were of Haitian descent. After learning about the Dominican and Haitian history in a seminar Wednesday night, it was clear to see that some of these children weren’t as confident as some of the children in other communities. Surprisingly, some of the children didn’t speak Spanish as well, so that created an additional barrier. But even as a marginalized community, they were very receptive to the love and nurturing energy that we came to share with them.

Friday was our final meeting with all three communities at a summer camp with field day inspired games and activities. It was a nice experience having so many children from different backgrounds in the same space. They happily reconnected with us and also made new connections with the other children. There were water thrills, communal meals, and many tears shed as this would be our last time encountering these children during our time in the D.R.

Our sadness didn’t linger, because we were equally excited about our overnight trip to Sosua where we would finally experience “La belleza de las playas de Republica Dominicana” the beauty of Dominican Republic’s beaches. On the journey to Puerto Plata, we made a pit stop at Hacienda Cufa to learn about the cultivation of Cacao and the process it endures from the plant stage to the final product, rich chocolate we enjoy worldwide. We were gifted with fresh hot cocoa to conclude our cacao tour and purchased many natural products from their shop.

We finally reached our destination, Sosua, by the evening and instantly felt relaxed by the calming seabreeze. After a delicious dinner buffet, many of the students spent the remainder of the night in the pool before curfew. The next day we started with a short journey to the Gri Gri lagoon where we took a boat trip inside a nearby cave and in natural clear water pool. This was a keepsake experience for many of us. Then we headed back to our hotel for a full day of swimming, tanning, and lounging at the beach.


By Kokayi and Sheila