BRIDGES…to the Dominican Republic
January, 2011

This trip was my third time returning and every year it’s a new adventure. It is a really selfish trip because what you gain from the townspeople of La Cuchilla is so much more than what you give. Your presence there is truly a movement towards growth and progress. If you can take some time out of your busy schedule to learn a new perspective on things, and make amazing friendships on the way, then do it because it only takes one trip.

~ Valeria Torres

Life is what we make of it. We have the power to create our own meanings. Sadly, as humans, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose touch with the world around us. We only see through our own eyes while failing to acknowledge and experience through others. We spend our whole lives doing for ourselves to create joy, when in reality the greatest joy one can be given is when doing for others. That is what this trip has given to me, not only the strength but the courage to truly embrace the simplicity that life has to offer.

~Chelsea Quinn

This trip was the most amazing experience I have ever had. Being welcomed into a family as if they had known you their whole life is an incredible feeling. During my stay in La Cuchilla, I was challenged on the hills to school, in the classroom with the children, but most of all in my home where I needed to have as much love for my family as they had for me. Overall this trip affected me so much and so did all of the people. I cannot wait to see my family in La Cuchilla again.

~Ashley Santa Teresa

The trip to DR has made me grow as a person in so many ways, and I will be taking back so many mixed feelings. I am sad to leave my new family but I am appreciative of my family at home and excited to see them and bring back the new one, with all of the stuff that I have learned. I am truly blessed to have experienced this trip and not only have met the families in DR but also the wonderful people on the trip.

~Alicia Haller

I did not know what to expect from this trip other than I was about to meet the mountain people of La Cuchilla, who are considered the under privileged. The one thing I was certain about was that I wanted to gain more from the trip then I was provided; I have certainly accomplished what I hoped to.

This trip gave me the opportunity to meet people with the upmost family values. They are very welcoming and loving but most importantly they are accommodating to us – the mission group who are total strangers to them.

After much reflection, I learned that although I have created a very comfortable life for myself, I was able and willing to lower my standards, open my heart and enjoy every moment I had with the families who, although they have so little, are happy and probably more fulfilled then most of us who have so much more than they do.

The trip also taught me that I have the tolerance required to share quality time, and the willingness to learn from people that are not like me. However, it is incumbent for people like me to alleviate some of the hardship that the mountain people live under, because to those that much has been given to, much is expected, so I will continue to provide relief to the community of La Cuchilla for as long as I can for giving me lessons that are priceless. This experience has changed me forever; a change that I will be eternally grateful for because I am better today for taking the trip.

Thank you Fr. Stanley for making another difference in my life.

~Zulma Carmora

This trip has been a life changing experience for me. It opened my eyes in ways I could never imagine. The friendships and family I gained while being on this trip have made me a happier person. I’ve realized that family consists of anyone that loves you. The most important thing in life is the one thing no one can take from you and that is being blessed with happiness. The best thing I learned on this trip is that the gift of receiving will never compare to the gift of giving.

~Stephanie Nova

This trip to the DR was something I decided to do last minute. There was something inside me that told me to go and I’m glad I did. It was amazing to see how people we never met before welcome us with open arms and soon became our family. I never thought that such strong bonds could be made in so little time. The people in La Cuchilla are so grateful for what they have and work so hard every day. They value time with their family and that’s something I want to take from this trip.

~Courtney Harvard

Amazing how much you can learn about yourself in two weeks. Going to the Dominican Republic was something that I would do about twice a year just to see family, but this time was very different. I knew no one and was placed in a house of strangers. From the first five minutes, I was able to feel right at home. Serving others is now something that I will do every year and trust, it’s not easy, but you feel so great after. I now consider them my family.

~Travis White

My experience in La Cuchilla was an amazing one. I was welcomed with open arms and hearts by my family there. The love that I felt was one that I never thought I would experience with strangers. Working with the children of the community and witnessing how happy they are without things which kids in the US have, made me realize that just the love and trust the community holds within itself is something that is hard to find, and that everyone there has made such an impact on my life.

~Kristine Della Sala

There are a lot of emotions that are manifested from this whole experience in the mountains of DR… When you first arrive you feel uneasy about walking the august mountains; when you feel exhausted after reaching the top of the hill; feel confident after successfully conversing with a Dominican native because of a language barrier; feel warm, loved and comforted by the open hearts and arms of people who talk, look, and live extremely different than I.

After this trip to DR what I want to take back is a lot: the importance of education, the value of friends and family, the beauty of simplicity, having the understanding, the appreciation of eye-opening experiences such as this, to help me gain wisdom and the time to find out who I am.

~Kathleen Capinoso

This trip has definitely been a learning experience; and during this experience I learned about human nature. We as humans are greedy, selfish and very unworthy of the love that was and is given to us by Jesus Christ. This realization brings me to the thought of a young girl named Karina, who knows how misguided and unappreciative we humans are; this trip has taught me to cherish what I do have and make do with what I do not have. Possessions are no everything but they do make life easier and this is seen in La Cuchilla, the high school makes it a lot easier for the teenagers of La Cuchilla to learn and I’ve learned to think big.

~Isaiah Bush

Something that I’ve been taught since I was very young is that most of the things given to you in life are privileges, not something that we actually deserve. I am so thankful for the wonderful people I have in my life and the opportunities blessed upon me. The people of La Cuchilla have reminded me of this, and I am so happy to have come on this trip.

True love is never selfish. But we are only human and selfishness is a part of our nature.  We just have to make sure we control it or else it will consume us. Thank you, La Cuchilla.

~Veronica Chavarria

This trip has put an everlasting stamp on the beginning of my 2011. The people I met were amazing; my family, along with the children from the school, grew on me in such little time. The trip really makes me appreciate my family back at home while motivating me to keep growing as a young adult. I see the opportunity the people in La Cuchilla have, helping me not to take anything for granted, keeping me determined every step of the way. Not being pleased with my first semester of college, this trip has given me a whole new mind set which I will take with me for the rest of my life.

~Chayanne Fabre

How do I feel after another journey in the mountains? I feel motivated, inspired and truly blessed to have come across an opportunity of great achievement. As a 3rd year returnee of the BRIDGES program, I have gained ultimate success in conquering my personal challenges as well as breaking down the walls for others. I hope I could have made as much of an impact for all those around me, as well as those that need help in the nearby future. This trip definitely is worth the time and effort put in it.

~Gerald Washington

I’m grateful! A family who never knew me offered to me for 2 weeks things that I did not have at home. To receive so much from a family that I thought had so little; again I am grateful.

~Melissa Pierre-Saint

Being my fourth time on this trip I believe it made me realize the effect I have on the people of La Cuchilla. The love they share towards me and the love I shared towards them have made me grow into a better person. Just seeing the family I stayed with, or how the other families, still remember me and still have so much love toward me after 4 years is so amazing. I love everyone in that community.  I will never forget them. I will miss them and just hope I see them soon. Hopefully I will fulfill my dream to be a doctor and be able to give back to them.

~Carlos Garcia

 

Accomplishments

1. Collected, transported, and distributed over 1,500 pounds of new clothing, bedding, medicines, vitamins, school supplies, etc. to a half dozen mountain communities.

2. Purchased and helped bury 3,100’ of tubing to bring fresh water to the Jagua school for a feeding program for children; provided 55 gallon storage barrels for the feeding programs in Jagua and La Cuchilla.

3. Provided $700 of food a month for the 24 students, from various rural communities, who live in La Casa Madre Maria in Juncalito on weekdays, so that they can continue their studies.

4. Provided the new high school in La Cuchilla with 3 laptops and a printer, 20 scientific calculators, dozens of high quality text books, and encircled the whole school with razor wire; painted five chalk boards in the classrooms and principal’s office.

5. Purchased 85 notebooks for the Jagua school children.

6. Provided scholarships for four rural students to study English in Santiago; and for two to attend college, plus purchased school uniforms and supplies for 7 rural students.

7.  Provided special medical assistance for two rural people.

8. In the La Cuchilla school, constructed a new cyclone fence in front, raising it atop three additional rows of cinder blocks.

9. Purchased and delivered 12 large cement pipes to the access dirt road in Dojima.  With the assistance of a backhoe secured from the mayor of Janico, gathered over 40 volunteers to bury the pipes under two sections of the roadway so that the tropical rains do not wash the road away.