Last weekend, the youth group from the Centreville Presbyterian Church presented a Thank you luncheon to members of the community who had rallied in support of their recent trip to the Dominican Republic. After a delicious home-made lunch, the group discussed their trip presenting colourful photos of their week-long journey.
The group joined members of the Samaritan Foundation, a humanitarian organization established in 1988 by a Canadian couple who were struck by the profound poverty they witnessed on a business trip to the island. Since then, it has built more than 1700 homes, 11 schools, five medical clinics, 12 churches and four playgrounds.
The youth were accompanied by Carolyn and Dave Brackenridge and Cathy McIntyre who also pitched in when there was work to be done. Painting cement houses was the first project the group undertook, and they added some decorative embellishments to the colourful exteriors of the homes. Next they built and painted shutters for several homes, which are the only coverings used on window openings in the majority of homes in the area in which they were working. Later in the week, they lent a hand in the construction of a brick house, leveling the inside dirt floor and helping to install exterior walls. They also met the family which would become the recipient of the home once completed, which gave added meaning to the students’ efforts.
The group had many opportunities to interact with the locals in more relaxed settings, playing baseball, visiting a pregnancy centre, watching students make sandals, acquire beautician skills and complete sewing projects at the local vocational school. At 8 am, a long line-up had already formed at the doors to the local health clinic which was staffed by a Canadian nurse who was occasionally assisted by a doctor. The young nurse returns home every April to raise funds that allow her to continue her work on the island as she receives little local financial support.
Dave Brackenridge explained to the audience that when the mission trip was first conceived, they sought opportunities through their church network. Trips organized by the Presbyterian Church only allowed participation as observers, and the local group sought an opportunity to do some work. The group returned home with a new appreciation for their own circumstance and the knowledge that they had contributed in their own small way to the lives of those who are less fortunate. This feeling of compassion will surely paint their attitudes long after their tans have faded. KG