This is a repost, originally written in July 2013…
Was it really only two weeks ago that we returned from our trip to the Dominican Republic?
Wow. What a adventure we had, our small group of 5 people from our church.
We were on a scouting trip, visiting with different organizations, trying to figure out which one would be a good fit for long-term partnership.
We drove across the island and back, over mountains, through rainstorms – all 5 of us piled into one SUV.
It was crazy, and it was so good.
One of the biggest highlights for me was meeting Oliver. The boy who has a picture on our fridge, and who sent us his handprint a few months ago.
Our World Vision sponsored child.
We actually got to see him, talk to him, see his smile, meet his family.
And the distance between our worlds was reduced to nothing for a short time in a small village in Miches, Dominican Republic.
I wonder what he would think of our house if he were to visit us here? Wouldn’t that be something… having Oliver here.
Well, one dream at a time, I suppose…
We drove through the mountains to meet Oliver. Our team from All Nations Church in Sudbury, Ontario, following behind our guides from World Vision.
Our destination that day was Miches, in the Dominican Republic, on the north-east coast of the island.
Oliver’s village is tucked away in the countryside, and I’m so glad World Vision was able to find him, along with the 56 others that our church sponsored – all in one Sunday morning back in November 2012.
We are told there are about 3000 more to go.
The visit was planned beautifully.
Earlier that day we visited one of the Miches Area Development Project (ADP) offices and met with the area director, her competent staff, and a few of the local pastors.
Later on we visited a few of the ADP programs and saw how World Vision is partnering with local people to equip the Dominicans in realizing a positive future for the citizens of this country in the Caribbean.
We were introduced to many wonderful people who are working hard to ensure the cycles of poverty are broken. There is much hope and sustainability found in the efforts of these people in Miches.
They have a vision that reaches far beyond them and the years that they have to give to the programs. The pass along a bright future to the ones who will come after them.
We visited a preschool where a local woman runs programs to equip mothers in caring for their children, some of whom have special needs. The health of the children in attendance is monitored periodically to ensure they are developing as they should.
This is the same for all the sponsored children of World Vision. Medical professionals check in with the children at least quarterly to assess their health and their needs.
We also visited a vocational school that is sponsored by World Vision, in partnership with the military, where Dominicans are trained in profitable trades and skills. These include carpentry, cosmetology, crafting, and music.
A delicious lunch is served to us at a local restaurant, owned by one of the World Vision micro credit clients. Oochi was provided loans to build her business and provide for the seven children in her care. She is faithful to pay back her loans and has dreams of expanding the business and building a house of her own. The children have dreams of attending college and some want to be teachers. This is proof of the sustainability of the World Vision program and the positive futures that are coming for the people of Miches.
I’ll never forget Oochi’s smile and the quiet confidence she exudes. She is happy, successful, and one great cook! She showed me the hope that is possible for all people as we work together around the globe for a common goal. Each of us giving what we can, when we can, however we can. Down the street, in our province, stretching across Canada, and around the globe – wherever God leads us.
As we drive down the bumpy, muddy road to Oliver’s village, we stop to visit a bell pepper nursery. The peppers are grown in a greenhouse and we enjoy the delicious aroma of success and hope contained in the white fabric walls of the nursery. Peppers are sold to provide funding for programs in the community.
Behind the greenhouse we find pig pens and we are told that when the gift of a pig is given to a family through World Vision, this is where the pigs come from. There are a couple of dozen pigs running around and again we see the hope that is available for the people of Miches.
In Oliver’s village we drive by a school that was built for the children, in partnership with other organizations that are working in the area. 120 children are sponsored in the village and 120 children attend the school. All of them go to school. More hope.
Oliver’s family lives in a rented house just outside the village, with his mother, step-father, and two younger sisters. They managed to buy some land and are now saving for the building materials needed for a house of their own. We hear the hope in their voices.
Oliver is shy and shakes our hands in greeting. We enjoy watching his face as he opens the gift we brought for him.
We talk to Oliver and his parents through an interpreter and discover a little more about our sponsored child.
His favourite subject is math, he likes to play sports that have a ball, he helps his step-father at the rice factory sometimes, he has a good friend he likes to hang out with, and he is a helpful son and a good big brother to his sisters.
After a few minutes we say goodbye. As we are leaving, Oliver runs into his house and brings out some coconuts. He hands them to us – a gift from his family.
They give out of the little they have and we learn from their example. We thank them, we wave from the road, and our visit comes to an end.
The drive back through the mountains seems more peaceful than the drive in.
We’ve seen Oliver and we’ve seen the hope that is available for him. He is healthy, he is happy, he is loved, and there are many people who care for him and are working hard to provide a positive future for him. Oliver is in capable hands and we see with our own eyes how our sponsorship money is at work in the Miches community of Dominican Republic.
Thank you, World Vision, for helping Oliver and for giving us the opportunity to travel across the world to meet him. It was an honour.
Now… when can we go back?