A Typical Volunteer Week here at Project Esperanza!

IMG_1481Hi, my name is Michelle and I’m Caitlin’s new Assistant until this August! We just had an amazing volunteer group of six people stay with us for the past week. The group consisted of a mother, her three teenage children, and a family friend. I had a great time showing them around, helping them with activities, and translating for them. They stayed in our cozy home in Muñoz and we participated in activities during the day and played plenty of cards at night. I’ll walk you through the weekly schedule to give you a better idea of what a
typical week is like as a Project Esperanza volunteer.

Monday: The volunteers arrived dazed after an early morning flight from the United States. There was free time to get settled in and Nannie, our friendly housemother who cooks and cleans for the volunteers, prepared a delicious Dominican dinner.

Tuesday: During the morning, Caitlin and I did an orientation for the volunteers. We explained everything from Haitian/Dominican history to tips for living in Muñoz. Then we did an art project with some of the children in one of our grassroots schools. The volunteer house is located only a few minutes from Project Esperanza’s school in Muñoz. The kids are always really excited to do art projects since the schools often don’t have the most art supplies available. We made caterpillars and butterflies with the kids (PUT LINK IN). We also took some pictures so the kids could make picture frames later that week.

Wednesday: On Wednesday we started our eco-construction projects for the week! We decided to make solar ovens with the kids at our school in Padre Granero to teach them about alternative energy and different cooking methods. Caitlin gave a presentation to the kids to explain energy sources, recycling, and solar power to the kids. The kids were excited to see how we could make an oven out of only a box, foil, plastic, and black paint!

We started by giving each kid a box and having him or her cut a window in the top of it. We then covered the holes with plastic and started covering the inside of the boxes with aluminum foil. It was fun to see the volunteers and the kids interact so well without being able to communicate using the same language. During Wednesday night, we had a community BINGO night in Muñoz where community members played to win bags of donations. The winners loved picking out shoes, toys, and baby clothing as prizes. Some of the volunteers helped call BINGO while the others played with the children. Despite the chaos and noise, everyone seemed to have a good experience.

Thursday: Thursday was a day filled with art projects! In the morning we made caterpillars and butterflies with the kids in Padre Granero. The project went better the second time around with a little more organization. In the afternoon we made picture frames with the kids in Muñoz, The kids enjoyed seeing their pictures inside a frame and most tried to wear their new art creations as necklaces!

Friday: On Friday morning we continued to build our eco-construction projects in Padre Granero. We continued to help the kids with insulation and painting their ovens black. After reviewing what we’ve learned during the week, we also built solar hot dog ovens with Pringles cans. The kids were so proud of their ovens and were all involved in the construction process. Later that day, we watched a movie with community members in Muñoz. We watched Journey 2 and people seemed to have fun despite the constant noise! Community members certainly like to actively participate in movie watching.

Saturday: We tested the solar ovens on Saturday! The kids in Padre Granero came to school with their parents to watch the demonstration. We cooked cookies in the ovens and hotdogs in the Pringles cans. The cooking wasn’t entirely successful with little sunlight available, but the kids still loved the process and ate the mostly cooked cookies. I think they learned a fair amount during the week about the importance of recycling and alternative energy!

Sunday: Sunday was an entirely free day! This allows volunteers to enjoy local activities such as 27 Waterfalls, Playa Dorada, Sosua, etc. One of my favorite things about helping the volunteers is telling them about all the amazing things the Dominican Republic has to offer! I’ve lived here for 6 weeks so far and still can’t get over how beautiful this country is.

Monday: After a full week of volunteers and a reflection session, the volunteers left for Las Terrenas to continue their extended visit to the Dominican Republic.

I hope that gave you a glimpse into a typical week with us at Project Esperanza!

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