A community is only as good as the people in it, and this week the residents of Lavapie proved they have one of the richest, most-welcoming communities in existence.
As the bus of volunteers pulled up to Lavapie on January 5, many of us were nervous. No one knew what to expect of the location, the build, or the people. Within minutes we were met with smiles and waves from the local families, and by lunch time many of us had formed friendships with the builders and children. The entire group quickly felt comfortable and at home in an unfamiliar setting.
Cambiando Vidas works hard to foster and build a relationship between the volunteers and community by making sure that both groups come together to not only work alongside one another, but also eat, laugh and converse during meals and downtime. Each day the local residents, masons, and volunteers helping with the build are fed a wonderful lunch prepared by women in the community. Not only do we get to enjoy local, Dominican food, but it gives us an opportunity to connect and learn more about the community and the people within it.
Local activities following work on the house further nurture this relationship. On the third day of the build we put down our trowels, picked up our mitts and went to the community park to play baseball. The teams were made up of community members and volunteers alike, with the local children cheering us on. The next day, all of the volunteers and some of the residents of Lavapie went to the local river to eat our lunch, relax in the cool water, and look at the beautiful scenery.
When we signed up to volunteer many of us thought that we would get to the location, work on the house, and leave. How pleasantly surprised we were to make friends and learn so much about the community of Lavapie.