On our last day in the Dominican Republic, we visited the Haitian village, Los Cocos. We learned that this village on a hillside was comprised of 70 different families. The land is owned by a Dominican citizen who allows the Haitians to live on the land for free. As Haitians are not recognized by the government and not allowed citizenship, this opportunity is a blessing for those families. Upon entering the village, we saw rows and rows of huts built with banana leaves. The children were running around playing, the women were washing clothes, and the men were out working. Walking through the village, we saw a lot of trash and poverty; however, when we looked beyond that we saw palm trees, the ocean, and mountains in the background. Everyone in the village was very welcoming and friendly, and one family even invited us into their home. The villagers have their own livestock so they can provide food for their families, and a river runs just behind the huts where the women wash their clothes.
This was also our last day at the Dove Missions Youth Development Center. The kids were full of energy and ready to see what we had planned for them. Today we reviewed the importance of eating fruit and vegetables and how to utilize MyPlate, a visual tool for learning healthy eating. We set up paper and paint so the children could paint a mural of all of their favorite fruits and vegetables. We then hung the mural on the walls inside the Center for all the kids to see. We hope that this mural will encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables when they have the opportunity. Our assessment data revealed a surprisingly low intake of fruits and vegetables in this tropical environment.
At the end of the day, there were a lot of sad faces around the Center. Saying goodbye to all of the wonderful children and friends we had made in the past week was very bittersweet. However, as one of the children pointed out, “It’s not goodbye; it’s ‘see you later.’”
Kristin, Junior Nursing Student
Zoe, Junior Gerontology Student