THE ROBBERY: On the night of Iosefa's going away party, a few other volunteers in the area and I celebrated alongside Iosefa and the community of Bahoruco to wish him well and thank him for his two years of service. It was a whole day of festivities of swimming, eating chivo (goat), and dancing to all the bachata and meringue we could handle. We ended the night at Iosefa's house so that we could have American time and relax. Well, a ladron decided to thank him for his two years of service by coming into his house when we all were sleeping to steal $2000 pesos (US$70), a cell phone, and then his camera. The whole situation was unfortunate, but more so creepy because that is the house that I'm going to be moving into in 2 months. Plus, the police in this country are so corrupted and bureaucratically slow that it takes forever to file an official report. Luckily, the town was in an uproar about the situation so people are being more cautious, protective, and telling me they are going to watch over me and my property.
FUTURE PROJECTS!: It seems like I have the potential to be a very, very busy volunteer. And for those of you that know me will see that makes me very, very happy. I love to be busy, use creativity, and think outside the box to get projects done in a timely but kick-ass manner:
ASOCIACION DE LOS ARTESANOS: is the organization that I was solicited to work for in Bahoruco to essentially help unify the association and help with expansion of certain projects. They are currently constructing a taller (workshop) in addition to the jewelry school workshop that has been up and running for months now. The goal is to eventually make an eco-tourism project including a trip to the Larimar mine to see where the Larimar comes from, the workshop to produce a Larimar stone, the beach to possibly find a piece of Larimar, and then having guides explain the history, the production, and the community of Bahoruco. The whole thing is in its infant stage right now so there is a lot of work to be done, including using current grant money to finish this particular project.
BRIGADA VERDE: An environmental youth group (Green Brigade) that is focusing on reforestation, community beautification, and stove-making. We already planted 80 palm trees along the malecón (the main street that runs along the coast) to beautify the community with the help of grant funds. The next goal is to get more grant money to sembrar fruit trees along the river and build stoves inside houses that don't burn wood, which is another environmental problem. I feel like the group should get cool green shirts and hats with a name like brigada verde, maybe badges too.
BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION: also works with youth to promote youth entrepreneurialism and general business knowledge and practices. I will be teaching business courses in a few months to prepare for the competition in August where the youth make up a real business plan to start an actual business, including budgets, marketing, community demand, etc. One of Iosefa's groups won two years ago and started a Papeleria (office supply store) that sells paper, pencils, workbooks, and more. Another job of mine is to oversee the operations of this to make sure that it basically just doesn't burn down to the ground (but with all that paper, who knows?).
HEALTH FAIR: Last summer there was a health fair in Bahoruco to offer free community check-ups from a traveling doctor group. The hope is for them to make it continuous so that they can have files on patients and bring the medication needed about ever four months. I will help facilitate the program including getting community helps and other volunteers involved to translate.
CELEBRANDO EL SUR: is a conference for just the sureños (southerners) to teach kids about the south and the country in general, not to mention discuss other issues such as diversity (race, gender, and other cultures), geography, and just have them meet new people.
ENGLISH CLASSES: Although a lot of volunteers discourage it (only because everyone wants to learn English but few will actually attend class or be motivated enough to continue), I'm going to try it out to two different groups; one with interested people in the community and the other with the wait staff at the local hotel. So far there have been a decent amount of people who are interested, so we'll see how many follow through. Plus, Justin teaching? Eeep!
ART & MURALS: This project is one that I'm really excited about just because art is one of my passions. I might connect this to the environment group in correlation with a community beautification project, but at any rate, I want to paint murals throughout the pueblo, or at least along the malecón. I mean, we're a beach town so it would be appropriate and would help with the progression of Bahoruco as a progressive southern town.
RIGHT NOW: I've been in country for 3 months. It has not seemed that long at all, but it's because I'm thinking in 2 year mode. I'm still adjusting to the craziness that is the Dominican Republic, but it's all just that rollercoaster of ups and downs. The community diagnostic phase is going well - it's so odd just walking up to people's homes and talking to them, asking them about themselves and the town. I'm still loving my site - with the beaches and rivers, I really can't complain. The holidays are right around the corner, such as Thanksgiving. Luckily, every year volunteers put together a big Thanksgiving day with activities, food, and entertainment. It will be the first time to all the other volunteers from my group as well, so we're all looking forward to that