Reparadero is a small, artisan town just outside of Santiago, in the central DR. In the center of their town, they have a ‘club,’ a covered, open-air building that hosts community gatherings, events, and a medical clinic. Behind this ‘club’ there has been an overgrown, empty field. The community has envisioned turning this space into a place for their kids to play volleyball and basketball for the past 7 years. However, they have not had the resources or funds to make this a reality.
The first Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in Reparadero moved into the community a little over a year ago. Her initial task was to complete a community diagnostic to determine the greatest needs of the community. The overwhelming response by the community (over 50% of the people surveyed) said the primary need was for safe spaces for their kids to play. Around this same time, she heard about Courts for Kids, submitted a grant application and got the process started.
The American group who adopted this project was a group of high school students and adults from SW Washington. We traveled down there during spring break and, with the help of the community, poured the entire concrete court in 3 days. It was exhausting work, but well worth it to see all the kids flocking to the court playing basketball, volleyball and other games they were making up! It was a beautiful sight.
We couldn’t have been more immersed into the community. Our group stayed within a 2 minute walk of where the court was built and where all the meals were eaten. We slept in the upstairs of a house being serenaded, (or kept awake, whichever way you look at it) at night by some upbeat Dominican music! The community taught us traditional dances, fed us some traditional delicacies, and even taught some of our team how to make pottery. It was such a rich, life-changing experience for our team. The community is thrilled to have their court constructed but also to meet new American friends.
On the final day, Daven Harmeling, former WSU basketball player, led a camp to teach the kids basketball and Kinsey Murray, teacher at Union, put on a volleyball camp for the kids. It was a great way to end the trip!
This was the best week of my life.
This trip has opened my eyes to outside of my own little world and my comfort zone. I have learned that all the technology and little things I thought I needed I don’t because being surrounded by friends and family is more important.
I have seen how fortunate I am to have as many opportunities as I do and that I shouldn’t take them for granted.
It was amazing to see how similar we are to people in other countries even though we can’t speak the same language and live totally different lifestyles.
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