Over winter break, 14 Senior School students and three staff members participated in Orphanage Outreach, a programme dedicated to providing support to orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children in the Dominican Republic. On New Year’s Eve, the students arrived in Monte Christi, a small village far from the resort region of the island ready to lend a hand and gain an experience they would never forget.
“When we arrived, the kids ran up to us and they all wanted to sit in our laps right away,” recalls Grade 12 student Hudson Allison.
The SMUS students played with the children, taught English, and helped with maintenance of the orphanage building. They brought suitcases filled with clothing and school supplies, along with a $1,000 donation. Junior School also contributed to the visit, with Christmas stockings made by the Grade 5 classes and filled with candy and toys for each child.
“It was amazing to see the children carry those stockings around the whole time we were there,” says Director of Service, Mr. Kevin Cook, who accompanied the students on the trip.
During their stay at the orphanage, the students travelled to Dajabon, an even more rustic town on the border with Haiti.
“When we went to the orphanage, we thought they had nothing until we met the people of Haiti and realized they had nothing while the orphanage had everything they needed to survive,” says Brenda Moore, a Grade 11 student.
When the students were asked about their most memorable moment, they all agreed the entire trip was an amazing experience, but one moment stood out. They had the opportunity to go to the bi-national market at Dajabon. Two days a week, the border is opened and the Haitians come across to trade some of the goods they receive as aid, such as pots, shoes and clothing, for necessities like rice, eggs and water. Witnessing how important this market is to the Haitians’ survival was the moment that affected the students most.
The money donated to the orphanage will go toward supplies to build the second floor of the building. The funds were taken from the trip budget in order to present the money while the students were at the orphanage. The students will now renew their fundraising efforts over the next few weeks and hope to earn more than the $1,000 already donated. A Dominican-cuisine luncheon and a pizza day are just two fundraising activities in the works.
On Friday, the students will visit the Junior School to give a presentation to the Grade 5 students, where they will share photos of the Dominican children with their stockings.
This is the third year the trip has been offered. Special thanks go to Mr. Kevin Cook, Ms. Judy Tobacco and Ms. Sabrina Lloyd for coordinating this year’s voyage.