A Third World Country in the Carribean

Essay by Reems411College, UndergraduateB, October 2008

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As an undergraduate in college, I found my passion: volunteering. One of my most memorable volunteer experiences was with the International Students Volunteer program in the Dominican Republic where we helped made a difference among many destitute families. According to International Student Volunteers, the purpose of the program is to "Travel with a purpose."Although my Spanish speaking skills are at beginner level, I was able to cross the language barrier by teaching children how to count in English and Spanish and communicate with patients in a hospital ministry. In addition, our living arrangements included no air conditioning, no electricity and triple digit weather conditions. The experience was incredibly surreal and eye-opening to see the Dominican families struggle to provide food for their children and to hear the families explain how the frequent rainstorms constantly destroy their fragile, wooden homes.

Our Crossroads project was a community developmental organization in which we also participated in a hospital ministry and provided food and nutrition programs for malnourished children and families.

The experience in the hospital ministry opened my eyes to the extreme shortages of doctors and medicine in this third world country. I began to recognize the necessity of an adequate healthcare system with sufficient doctors, physician assistants, nurses and other medical professions to take an active role in helping patients and the system.

When I returned home from my trip, I began to notice the materialistic items that my peers are preoccupied with such as, cellular telephones, clothes and cars. I was surprised to see that the Dominican children who live in dire conditions have so much less than we do yet they seem happier than us; they are not concerned with materialistic items because they simply do not exist. Instead their close family and neighborhood ties keep their morale high...