Today was “Living like A Local” day. We visited the village of Rio Grande, where we stayed in the houses of volunteer hosts. We got the chance to experience what life is like for the people living there.
The goal of the day was to live as if we earned a two-dollar salary. Our day started with a breakfast of bread and chocolate milk, and at some point, during the day we all took bucket showers. After the meal, our GGL introduced the CAP, which stands for Community Action Project. Since the project will benefit the community of Rio Grande, the purpose of the trip was to find out what their needs are and how we can help.

When we arrived, we divided into groups, each assigned to a host family. We were really supposed to help with chores around their homes, but we found that most of the “Doñas” just wanted to spoil us. One out of the 5 hosts who participated, Doña Mecho, welcomed us into her home. She was very welcoming and told stories of how it was living in her condition. She didn’t always have her own house, she rented prior to living in Rio Grande, but it was difficult paying monthly, so her and her husband decided to buy a small portion of land and build their home; it took them 2 months to complete it. Even though she doesn’t have all of the things they need, she relies on her faith that one day God will help and better her living style. It was really eye opening that someone who doesn’t have as much as we do can be happy and have the generosity of opening their house to complete strangers.

After three hours of spending time with our host families, everyone gathered at the school to share a meal and play games. The children are WILD. They have endless energy, and have no hesitation trying to communicate with you. We also noticed how they took advantage of the things available to them, like how they built toy cars out of containers with bottles caps and lollipop sticks for wheels and axles. We can all say that we have learned something from interacting with the families and experiencing their living conditions.

Following the meal, we split into three different groups, asking specific questions to determine what our CAP should be. During this time, we learned a lot about the generosity and optimism of the community, as well as their struggles and needs. Before we left, we thanked all the families for accepting us into their homes and into their community.
Even though this has only been our fourth day in the Dominican Republic, this is an incredible experience that we will never forget. We have gained a unique perspective that will shape how we continue to see the world. We have gained a new appreciation for the things we have that millions of others lack. And we have gained genuine connections with the friendly people of Rio Grande.

-Keren O. and Morghan B.
Much Love To Our Families 