A month has passed since I moved to my site…a whole month! Can you believe it? I surely cannot. And I have been busy every second of it, literally. The first week of my arrival was dedicated to meeting the entire community—the mayor’s office, the police department, the Red Cross, all the kids in the schools, the health clinic, the church, all the women in the Directive and their family… you name it, I met it. I hadn’t even been in the community for 24 hours and I had the mayor asking me in a televised interview what I was going to do for Cumayasa. Luckily the cunning politician in me surfaced and I filled my responses with flowery, meaningless vagaries. Thanks Poli Sci degree!
The mayor’s enthusiasm of my presence is by no means exclusive and definitely shared by all. I have been welcomed with open arms by almost everyone. It is truly a great feeling. My site kicks ass! Right now we are working on the infrastructure of the women’s group to strengthen internally and get ourselves organized. There are seven women in my Directive who are all artisans and make mostly jewelry and candles. Their market is primarily the tourists. Dominicans are extremely grateful for the tourism that passes through here; it is not resented or begrudged one bit.
I am so soo sooo proud and excited to say that we started a fund!!! Haha, all of my women are serious Evangelicals, so the other night we celebrated by popping some soda and toasting our accomplishments with that. I guess the popping champagne song hasn’t reached here yet…boo. The money in the fund is coming from a percentage charged from merchandise sold and a quota system we set up. It is for any member of the Directive who needs to borrow money to buy materials to make more products for upcoming fairs and shows that we have. Access to capital is not nearly as fluid as it is in the States, and even if you can approval for a loan, interest rates are crazy high here. So I am extremely excited to have started this!!! The vision is for it to become stable and eventually grow enough to transition into a community bank. Pretttty cooool, eh??
My heart and soul are committed to working with this Directive. I hope to improve it as much as possible while I am here. Other projects on the horizon include teaching English courses (I am asked almost every day when I am going to start giving these courses. That’s how excited the community is about English.), and working with two local humanitarian institutions that help children and the elderly.
Thanksgiving just passed and Peace Corps every year hosts a nice event for all of the volunteers. They rent out a club house and cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal (yay no rice and beans!), consisting of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, that cranberry dressing stuff, a vegetable medley of sorts, AND, the best part, pecan and pumpkin pies! So I passed the entire day poolside, getting tan and eating as much pie as possible. It was definitely relaxing. But I had a sadness hanging over my head the entire day. I never think I am going to get homesick, and I receive no warnings, it just happens and I get into this little funk. So I was homesick that day, missing you guys!
I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! Hope all is well. Keep me updated on everything going on with you!
Here’s a fun little Get to Know a Dominican Series. Four things that I bet you didn’t know about the Dominican Republic or Dominican culture:
1.) They eat Halls cough drops as candy. It’s pretty gross. Though, they are only a peso…so they’re growing on me!
2.) They are a very giving/sharing culture. I once had a three year old offer me a drink from his bottle on the bus. Not once, but about four different times during the trip.
3.) They point with their lips instead of their fingers.
4.) Men will lift up the front of their shirts if it’s hot, or after a meal if they’re full, or if they just feel like it dammit.