sunday: november 7 (Republica Dominicana)

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>It was a very eventful weekend, so I finally have something to share with you all.

Thursday: Ken and Wendy arrived and it was nice to finally be able to put faces to the voices. 20 of us went out for some very, very salty “Chinese” food (word used rather loosely.) Of course hurricane Tomas was just beginning to show his face and we experienced a good deal of rain. I discovered that Liz keeps track of funny things people say in a notebook and that I have made it in there with a ridiculous comment I made during an episode of Law & Order…I must say that I am stoked and honored! (Trying to hang on to some of my SoCal lingo there)

Friday: More rain and wind. We visited a school for disabled children and, wow, you can’t walk out the doors unaffected. Kristin, Ken, Wendy, Liz, Julian, CiCi, Fernelis, and I checked into the Don Juan resort and begun our time in the Conference Room. There were puddles everywhere you could look, shoes/socks soaked through immediately, and the staff worked diligently to keep water out of the dining hall. We had meetings until late that night and then Liz, Fernelis, and I walked on the beach. Night water kind of scares me…don’t know why. Lovely room. Water shower water. Lumpy pillows. Air Conditioning. “Murder blankets” (according to Liz, that is.) It was a very nice place.

Saturday: More rain and wind. Up early for breakfast and then meetings all day. I learned a great deal about our work here and about the Foundation. Liz, Ken, Wendy, and I took a little walk on the beach in the afternoon and Liz and I got a little shopping fix. After dinner we went out for gelato, but left rather quickly when the prostitute situation and some horrifying sights scared us off.

Sunday: No rain. Sun. We had a brief meeting in the morning where I learned of my new project-renovating Foundation for Peace’s facebook page. The meeting ended at around 11 and we didn’t have to leave until 5…so Liz, Fernelis, and I hit the beach. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and the water was absolutely terrific. Carribean water: teal and clear and so salty you can float without any effort. Let’s just say that I am deep fried (like much Dominican food.) I continue to redden as time passes, cooking from within. Oh yes, and I got my most interesting “compliment?” today. Apparently I have a “boca grande” or big mouth and, supposedly, this is a good thing. I think it was meant to have something to do with smiles, but something was lost in translation. With buffet style meals (all with dessert) and open bars, I came back to the house in Santo Domingo with a desperate need to get some exercise. Liz and I went down to the park and I ran laps while she walked Luna. I was definitely a spectacle. It felt really good to get my lungs burning again. I’m guessing that I may have sacrificed my body to the mosquitoes, however. We returned home to an unexpected (to everyone) group. They showed up without any notice and expected to stay here for three nights. We’re all a little peeved about the whole situation.

And the new plan is to head to Haiti on Wednesday. The storm pushed everything back a little bit…

I have to say this, though: despite the long hours spent in the conference room talking about projects I currently know nothing about, this weekend was invaluable. I learned so much about this organization, the people that I am working with, and am more sure now that I am in the right place and with the right people. The cynic in me was tested this weekend as I observed and listened to incredible people devote themselves entirely to serving others. Never was the conversation “I” centered. FFP says: “We can’t do everything, but we’ll do anything” and this is very true. We spent hours calculating how many people benefit from FFP’s services in communities all around the Dominican Republic, and the numbers speak for themselves. Schools, water systems, clinics, economic develop…they really do whatever it is the people need. We went through every single project and discussed what had been done, what still needs to be done, and how it should be done. Unlike many NGOs, all the money donated goes to serving the people. They don’t put any aside for “just in case” situations, because there are needs that need to be met now. They are willing to put egos aside and work with others as long as the job gets done, and is done right. I could go on and on about what amazing work is being done, but the last thing I’ll say is this: I am honored to be a part of Foundation for Peace and I look forward to the upcoming months. I know that I am exactly where I need to be.

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