If new generations do not care about protecting the future, then what future do we have left to protect?
This is a question that is asked constantly by many inhabitants of La Loma, the lush, beautiful, and majestic mountain range that lies on the outskirts of the city of Bonao. With the threat of mining companies coming and destroying the mountains on which these Dominicans have lived for many generations, the people of La Loma have taken a stand, fighting hard in both the civil and political fields to preserve the way of life that they have long held on to. One of the main leaders of this movement to protect La Loma, a man named Esteban Polanco, has gone above and beyond the call of duty and formed the Federación de Campesinos (Federation of Farmers), an organization dedicated to protecting the ways of life of the many farmers of La Loma. Esteban has been working furiously, day and night, squaring off against global mining corporations and assassination attempts, in an attempt just to preserve La Loma and pass on its legacy to the young Dominicans of the area. But how can one man alone accomplish a goal as large as this?
That’s where we, the Global Glimpse Delegation of Bonao #1, come in.
My name is Austen Le and I am a student of Andrew Hill High School in San Jose, California (Go Falcons!). Today was the major planning day of our Community Action Project (CAP), a service project designed to assist the local people of the area in which we are staying. After going to La Loma and hearing firsthand from Esteban the many different trials and tribulations that the farmers and other residents of the mountains faced, our delegation felt that this was a community that greatly needed our assistance.
With one of the most prominent fears of the residents of La Loma being that young children and new generations will lose their connection to their mountain heritage in favor of the city, the main issue that we dealt with was working to develop and foster the bond that these children held to La Loma so that one day they too would come back to protect it. With suggestions from Esteban and much deliberation, our group finally decided upon building a small daycare/playground structure at the headquarters of the Federación de Campesinos on La Loma, in which people could leave their children while they went to some of the many different career and skills workshops offered by the Federación. Not only would this playground allow parents to attend these much needed workshops, but it would also teach the children more about La Loma and their Dominican culture through the different cultural and environmental themed decorations, structures, toys, and games that we are going to place within it. From sandboxes and Dominican dominoes to a bean bag toss and a large La Loma themed mural, we want to make this playground as kid friendly as possible while promoting the ideas of environmental conservation and cultural preservation. We hope that as these children grow up on La Loma, they will really begin to feel the connection to it, and will learn to love and cherish it as the generations before them have.
Realistically, our small, eleven-person delegation will probably (maybe most likely) not be able to solve all of the problems that La Loma faces with our playground structure alone. However, by planting the idea of conserving culture and identity into the fresh soil of young minds, we may be able to spread these ideas from one generation to the next until La Loma really gains the support and protection that its natural beauty needs and deserves. While this seems like a long shot, it really takes the little steps to make a difference in the long run. The people of La Loma are a proud bunch of people, who strongly stand behind their farmer heritage and the accomplishments of their previous ancestors. We simply hope that they continue to stay this way, or we can go out there and try to do something to make sure that it does.