Bolles young women serve in the D.R.

Bolles young women serve in the D.R.
Tory Buchanon, Anna Demont, Natalie Spadaro

Avondale residents Tory Buchanon and Anna Demont, and San Jose resident Natalie Spadaro all students at the Bolles School,  spent 10 days this summer in the Dominican Republic volunteering in rural and urban communities working on sustainable projects. Two of the projects were reforestation and construction of new school buildings.

Most days were spent building the “bottle school” in Caraballo, Dominican Republic. The basic system of construction they employed was to apply cement over chicken wire over used plastic bottles.

“When we arrived at the first village, Caraballo, we began to work on completing a bottle school. This bottle school will provide a medical center and class rooms for the community, said Buchanon. “We also helped pick up some trash throughout the streets and fields and passed out ceramic water filters to a few families. As we worked, local children joined us and helped us out so that all of the trash bags were filled within an hour. Although many of them were visibly ill, the kids were eager to interact with us and always had smiles on their faces.”

“We worked with very poor communities and kids who did not have access to food every day or even shoes. We worked on bottle schools, which are buildings and the walls are built with chicken wire and empty plastic bottles put between the wire and we cement the top,” said Spadaro.

The group also spent time with local children at a Haitian resettlement village, La Grua, doing arts and crafts, playing sports and games, and teaching basic conversational English. When they first arrived the group again began to pick up some of the seemingly endless trash strewn across the fields and riverbanks of the village. “The children who came to help had very little physical possessions, yet so much energy and kindness to offer,” said Demont. “During our experience in Haiti we were able to visit the women’s shops and enjoyed a locally prepared lunch of rice chicken and beans. Before saying our goodbyes we played a soccer game with a bunch of the boys who were surprisingly very experienced players.”

“We went to a village where the people were dependent on tourists and visitors; they live off the cash they receive from selling their yarn bracelets or just braiding hair. It’s obviously extremely different than a developed country,” Spadaro related.

“Once I came back to America I realized how lucky we are and how unnecessary most of the things we have are. It was a big change coming from the Dominican, with no air conditioning, then stepping into the Miami airport, which is now a huge mall with just more junk,” she concluded. “I’m more appreciative of everything I have in my life and I want to do more to help poor countries.”

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