On the first day we loaded up in the 16 passenger van and headed out to Villa Hermosa, a community that is on the outskirts of Santo Domingo.
When we turned onto the dirt road of Villa Hermosa for the first time, kids were on the corner looking back at us smiling and waving. My heart instantly gained ten pounds when I saw how happy and curious they all were about who was visiting. That was the first thing that surprised me – no matter what village we went to, the children of the Dominican were all so freely loving. They all wanted to play with you despite not knowing who we were or where we came from… not to mention our poor Spanish skills.
At first I didn’t know how to communicate with them, but one of the people with us had a harmonica and began playing a tune. Instantly 3 of the kids starting dancing and then everybody joined in. It was such an impromptu dance and a celebration of life. It really highlighted the fact that we weren’t different at all. It was a moment I’ll remember the rest of my life.
The personalities of these kids were one of the most beautiful things to see. Despite not being able to speak their language, to see them laugh, smile and have such a pure joy was so inspiring and humbling. These kids who in our eyes have very little were so happy and care free. They are deserving of so much more than they have access to. Because many of their parents are from Hati and don’t have Dominican papers, they can’t get jobs. No matter how hard they would like to work and make a better life, they don’t have a way of doing so.
One of the many little kids I loved being around and still miss is Union – he was vivacious, full of energy, and probably one of the best dancers I’ve ever seen. The moment we turned on music on our phones everyone formed a circle and began dancing. Union jumped in the middle of the circle, put his hands on his hips, and started shaking his hips side to side. He was so happy, proud and legitimately a great dancer. I love Union!
he also loved selfies!
next we walked around the community passing out flyers and letting everyone know that there would be a health fair the next day in the middle of the village
The second day, we returned to Villa Hermosa for the health fair. There was such an awesome turnout! This was a day where we taught the children of the village how to wash their hands, brush their teeth and wash their vegetables using the clean water from their water filtration system. Before the water filtration system was available to this village there were SO MANY health problems due to the contaminated water. Rashes on skin, diarrhea, and different sicknesses were all happening because of drinking unclean water.
Healing waters has helped this community so much. Because of the water filtration system now in place, all those health problems associated with drinking unfiltered water have gone down tremendously. It really is amazing how much life is affected by water. I never really noticed just how often I use water – but from the second I wake up, to the second I go to bed there are 1,000 ways we use water ever day.
At the health fair, I was placed at the teeth brushing station and equipped with hundreds of toothbrushes to give to the children. The first wave of children eagerly came to our station and were so attentive.
I handed a little 5 year old girl her new toothbrush with toothpaste on it and assumed she would just start brushing her teeth. She looked down at the tooth brush, looked up at me, then put the toothbrush in her mouth like a sucker and held it there. I suddenly realized it was this precious child’s first time to brush her teeth. She didn’t know how to brush her teeth because she had never had a toothbrush.
That one moment changed my life. So often we think of luxury as satin sheets or a penthouse suite or the grandest of cars. Seeing her brush her teeth for the first time instantly broke my heart. She completely redefined my understanding of the word “luxury” for the rest of my life.
we also had a raffle drawing where people of the village won 5 gallon water containers
Union was also the kid who, on the last day when the bus was pulling out, ran after the bus. I was on the very last row of our van and was waving to him from the back window. He kept running and waiving and smiling longer than all of the other children. He ran until we were almost to back on the main road. I still think of Union often and genuinely miss him. I miss his playful spirit and funny personality. He is one of the many reasons I know I’ll go back to Villa Hermosa. Because I want to help Union.