“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.’’ – Marianne Williamson
We are Itzel and Andrea, and today was the second day of our Community Action Project (CAP) at the local school here in San Juan de la Maguana. It has been a pleasure to be the leaders of the day since CAP days tend to be the hardest and most draining of the trip. Today was definitely super busy in the morning due to the list of things we had to finish in order to deliver our project to the community in need, but it was fun in the afternoon since we had explored time and we played a game before our nightly meeting. Our morning started off well and things ran smoothly. We woke up early in the morning and went around knocking on everyone’s doors to wake them up. We had breakfast and then got ready to head out to continue working on our project. Before going to the local school, we went to two different florist shops to buy the plants that we needed for the garden. On our way to the school, we held the plants and some of us even named them. It was about a 45-minute drive from our hostile to Escuela Maguana al Medio, so everyone got to rest before going back to hard work.
It’s Itzel now! I figured that since we would be having a really long and tiring day, the group needed a little sugar. I walked around the hostel giving out lollipops to everyone, their smiles really brightened my morning and warmed my heart. Andrea and I work really well together; we managed to get everyone down for breakfast on time and depart to the local school to continue our Community Action Project. Our project so far is to build two gardens, a shading area, benches, a table, and finish painting and drawing two colorful murals. Today we worked on sketching out the two murals. The first mural consisted of the Dominican flag itself, while the second one included the founding fathers. We got to finish our first mural and got lots of compliments and smiles from the locals. While sketching out the second mural I struggled quite a bit. The image had to be drawn very high up and I am a very tiny person, but with the help of my teammates, the mural was starting to look really nice. Due to our limited amount of supplies, we had to mix primary colors in order to get the other colors we needed to paint the mural. For the benches and tables, we had to help mix and carry cement to permanently put together cinder blocks. By the time we had to leave, we had mostly finished the first mural and built the foundation for the benches and tables under the shading are, which we also helped to build.
We left the local school feeling hopeful and confident that we could finish our project. We also felt proud that we made some progress today. After going back to the hostel, we all immediately went to freshen up and get ready to go out and explore San Juan. As always, we made sure everyone had a group and that no one would be left behind. We had a lot of fun, and we visited different clothing stores, the supermarket, and an ice cream place. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company while looking for our outfits for the graduation awaiting the next day. As we walked back to the hostel, some of us started realizing how close we are to the end of the trip, and about how we will miss spending time together. Along with everything I have learned and the amazing people I’ve met in this trip, my biggest takeaway from the trip is the impact and the mark we have left in this community. Seeing everyone working really hard today was such a good feeling because we are all getting this huge project done and the community seems really excited and happy with our progress. Some children would approach me and tell me how good the mural was looking and how happy they were that we were helping their school. Nothing has fulfilled me more than their big smiles and their gratefulness. I take this home with me along with the empowerment to become more actively involved in my own community.
Andrea here again. I was really proud to show everyone the final product the next day. I felt super accomplished, especially because I helped to do things I didn’t think I could do. For example, I helped to mix cement, carry heavy buckets of cement, and use a pick-ax to mark out some dirt. I was very proud of myself. I was also happy to set an example for my peers as the leader of the day.