Hola from Constanza!

Today we returned to Rio Grande to finish up our CAP delivery. We woke up early like the two previous CAP delivery days and arrived at around 9 am. We worked hard until 12, then we had lunch, and after we continued our work until around 2, when we got back on the bus and returned to Hotel Mi Casa. When we got back we took our last round of medication and then had some free time. We came back from our free time at around 6:30 and prepared for dinner and our nightly meeting. We had some self-reflection time to discuss our CAP delivery, and then got the rundown of what tomorrow holds in store.

Our last CAP Delivery was definitely one of the most emotional days we’ve had in Constanza. During our time working in Rio Grande, we have grown quite attached to both the children and community leaders. It was difficult to stay completely focused while we worked as the kids frequently ran through the greenhouse while we were working. We arrived to the greenhouse and found that Sancho and other members of the community had built support beams on the walls of the greenhouse, and had gotten the irrigation piping that we needed to finish our project. We began work right away, and split into our respective committees. The art committee finished up the mural pretty quickly, and began to help out the structure and irrigation committees in cleaning up the ground of the greenhouse. We had to till the ground again with a pickaxe, as we unintentionally re-packed the dirt while walking through the greenhouse. After we had thoroughly evened out the dirt, we began to pick trash and large rocks out and soon began to plan how we were going to set up the planter beds in the greenhouse. We decided on having several 2 feet wide beds running the length of the greenhouse with a small walkway separating each. We quickly broke into small groups of 2-3 per bed and spent around 10-15 minutes thoroughly sifting through the beds, breaking up large dirt chunks and throwing rocks away. After an hour or two of hard work our greenhouse was finally beginning to take shape. We got the irrigation tubing and ran it along the whole greenhouse. After a hearty meal of chicken and rice, and of course steamed vegetables, we set back to work cleaning up the surrounding area of the greenhouse. We swept the dust and debris from the walkway, and put some finishing touches on the inside of the greenhouse. At around 1:30, we were finally done with our CAP delivery, and spent the remainder of our time playing with the children of the community. Each one of us were engaged and active, and it was a very bittersweet experience saying our farewells to the community we had grown so attached to. We ended our time at Rio Grande with a closing circle, where we had one of our last Big Loves of the trip. We each took turns describing what we appreciated from various members of the community, and gave some thanks to each other for the hard work that we put in. Several community members spoke out and thanked us for our dedication and hard work throughout our stay in Rio Grande, and we had a very emotional final goodbye. As our bus began to leave the town for the last time, we looked back and saw groups of the children running after us and waving. It was sad, but ultimately a perfect way to close out our community involvement during our time in Constanza.

After returning from CAP delivery we started our free time and at 3 p.m. had our last dose of medicine. During the first part of free time we completed our appreciation letters for our GG supporters. After we completed our letters, we had another chance to explore Constanza in groups of 4. One group went to Bon and the supermarket El Economico, all the while talking about various subjects such as what we planned to do once we returned to the states. Two of my group members got some delicious milkshakes at Bon which has become the first place we go to when we get free time. Some of us also returned to Punto de Nieve, a C2A favorite, for delicious iced coffee and palitos de mozzarella (mozzarella sticks). We lounged around until 6:30, when we returned to Hotel Mi Casa for dinner. After dinner, we had some time to reflect on our work during our CAP delivery, and our strengths/weaknesses as a group during our time in Rio Grande. Personally, a strength of mine as a leader was volume and communication, and something I could definitely work on would be listening to others perspectives and ideas. After our self-reflection, we had our nightly meeting and then went to sleep.  

Our Community Action Project was definitely a highlight for the majority of our group. The entire procedure of first meeting with the community and asking what they needed, then working all day for 3 days to make that vision a reality, was to say the least a heartwarming experience. Seeing such engagement from the community and interest from the children really gave us a sense of fulfillment, and assured us that our work was actually going to make a difference in the lives of the citizens of Rio Grande. Each one of us had a renewed sense of motivation while working on this project, even in the wake of sickness and the side effects of our medication, because we all knew that this greenhouse meant a lot to the children and the citizens of Rio Grande. I think I can speak for the group in saying that this project was the most impactful/important part of our trip to the Dominican Republic. It was a great way to end an amazing trip, and I hope to one day return to Rio Grande and see if the greenhouse is still standing.

Big love from Constanza,

– Julian (Shoutout to my Mom and Dad for helping me to go on such an amazing trip)     

– Zhonna (Shoutout to Jay and Shannon)


Before and after pictures

Some of the Mural crew with Ken

Panel 1: plant the seed

Panel 2: the seeds sprout and the children play

Panel 3: The kids water the plants

Panel 4: The kids grow up and become parents while the plants continue to grow

Panel 5: The kids of the community enjoy the fruit!

Panel 6: The cycle starts anew

Panel 7: The cycle of the plants, an overview

Communty members planting lettuce in the greenhouse as we left

Big Love with the Rio Grande community