As expected, today was the best day of the 2016 trip. The highlight of the day was spending about an hour with our sponsor child, Yasiri.
But, first things first… we started the day at the CCED school, which is in a barrio very close to our guesthouse location. As is customary on Wednesdays, we watched the traditional morning prayer and flag-raising ceremony, then saw the kids off to their classrooms.
We then headed to the barrio of Cuenda, which is only about 20 minutes South of here… but up a long gravel/dirt road and into another world completely. Our patients ranged in age from infant to 101… and had the usual maladies plus quite a few with skin infestations which required treatment. As you can imagine, lack of clean fresh water contributes to all sorts of hair and skin issues.
At lunch time, we took a little walk through the village where we saw lots of laundry being done. Check out the photo and then tell me if you’re ever going to complain about your high-end laundry appliances again.
After lunch, I rode with Laura (the Solid Rock Student Sponsor coordinator) and 2 ONU students (Taylor and Bethany) about an hour North West to El Cercado. Yasiri’s town is set at a higher elevation and is quite a bit cooler and breezier than the towns down in the valley.
We were able to go into Yasiri’s classroom, where she hopped right out of her seat and came to give me a big hug! Of course, we sat outside for a little bit, where I tried my darndest to get her to talk. She’s so quiet and shy! Eventually, she opened up a little bit when I asked her to tell me the names of her brothers and sisters and what are her favorite toys (dolls). She loved the gifts I brought her… especially the purse with a few American coins in it (and the chapstick… she loves chapstick), the balloons and the beautiful toy doll with YASIRI embroidered on the front of the dress.
At the end of our visit, Yasiri’s Mama surprised me by arriving at the school. She made me absolutely melt when she told me how Yasiri came home from school all excited yesterday. Mama asked what was going on and Yasiri said, “They told me today. My Americana is coming tomorrow.” She asked her Mama to freshly braid her hair, and spent the evening looking at a photo book I sent her after a previous visit! Talk about making my heart happy!
Then… to top it all off, we had a surprise visit by my very favorite Dominican doctor, Sandy Valdez. He made a special trip to the restaurant where we were having supper so that he could see his friends from our team. Let me tell you, everyone absolutely adores this man, me included. He wasn’t able to go out to the barrios with us this week, and even though our docs have been wonderful, I still miss Dr. Sandy. He always makes a point of telling me exactly what he appreciates about me. He tells me how much my work means to his people, he motivates me to want to be a better person, and he is one of the reasons I always feel re-ignited and refueled after my visit here. Soooo good to see my friend.
Tomorrow is our last barrio day. We’re going to Los Corocitos, which may or may not be up in the mountains, closer to the Haitian border. I hope so, because I still need to get my annual “on top of the world” photo…We’ll find out.