International Service: Darlene in the Dominican Republic
Darlene's Story:
 
Twenty-one Rotarians and friends of Rotary traveled to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic to further the work of Rotary. Several Clubs from several districts participated.   It was cold, snowy and early in the morning when most of us left from Detroit. It was warm and sunny when we arrived in Miami and later in Puerto Plata.
 
Eight of us were first-timers but we soon got to know each other over meals and traveling by bus from area to area. I came back with new friends and an experience I will not forget.
 

 

 

 

 We had orientation, visited sites where bio-sand filters had been installed in the past to verify all was working well, were introduced to new opportunities to help support projects in the Dominican Republic and celebrated the successes with the Dominicans. Most impressive was Barrio Renecer (rebirth) which has been renamed from Barrio Aguas Negras (wastewater). Many of the Rotarians on the trip have been working with the residents of this barrio for 8-12 years. Bob Hildreth, Rotarian from Puerto Plata, said 12 years ago armed police wouldn't even go in and now people are moving into the barrio. Having clean water, a local champion and facilitator, community involvement and receiving help from those of us who can help has made the difference. Women from this barrio are now preparing to travel several kilometers to the Maranata, Sosua community to help teach the women sewing skills so they can support their families and work in their home area.
  

 We visited a nursing home, schools, aquaducts built by Peace Corp in conjuction with the bio-sand filter projects, several barrio homes in different communities, and shopped for school supplies to donate to Caliph's Haitian/Dominican school.  I had brought 100 pencils from our club and won't ever forget how each of the children smiled and clasped the pencils as I handed them out.  I still tear up when I think about it.  A yellow #2 pencil, that's all it took!   The blackboard in the school is really a large piece of fiber board.

In Santiago we visited a premier water testing lab at the university, stayed with a host family and celebrated the completion of the 3-H water project which include several Rotarian groups in the Domincan and USA, The Rotary Foundation, USAID, Peace Corp, Caritas (Catholic Relief) and many more.  It was truly a cooperative effort.

I came back with a better understanding of Rotary and especially the Four Way Pledge.  Would I do it again?  In a heart beat!