Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 5 by William (building a home in the barrio)

Our fifth day of service in the Dominican Republic involved delving into the barrio (marginalized neighborhoods in the hills). This section of our service trip provided a more in depth understanding of the socioeconomics status of the local community in which we are living. In order to reach our  workplace, we had to trek up a hill, which was tricky since it rained for the first two hours of our  morning.

During the walk, our boots took on the camouflage of adhering mud and every person’s eyes were open wide taking in the surrounding houses and shops. We noticed that as we journeyed further into the barrio the opulence of the surrounding resort communities disappeared. Once we settled at the top of the hill, the efforts of prior group was humbling. Before us laid the ghostly foundation of what was once a makeshift house. Problems that we had to overcome included rebuilding a days work of support beams that termites destroyed. Today, we learned a few housing design tips that promote the longevity of the house; staggering eight-inch by quarter-inch flat wood as walls will prevent water from entering the home. Collaboratively, during our work day we laughed, used hand gestures and our Spanish vocabularies to communicate to the locals that were working together to build the house. Dave, the head of this GLA program, met the house owners through multiple encounters with their sons. He told us of how he had shared food with them and got to know them; soon after, this project became a reality and not just a conversation topic. Together, we constructed the home. Corrugated sheet metal served as the roof to facility water runoff. The flooring of the house was traditional cement. All of these components were supported by wooden planks. Students and volunteers wielded hammers, saws, and nails in order to meet our goal. It was eye opening to see community members connect with us in the fulfillment of design and construction. Each individual left a nail and a few monkey heads (for those less experienced with hammering) in the Barrio; completely reformed, the house is a representation of the effective efforts that come from unity. Many of us hope to return to this very location when we're older to consider the evolution of the community, the planet Earth and its greatest influence -- humanity.


  1. I am really enjoying reading about your experience. You will all remember this for the rest of your life, and I think it's amazing that you are able to have this experience in high school.

    I know you will all continue to absorb everything this experience has to offer and apply what you've learned once you return home. It's things like this that leave us changed a good way.

    I am looking forward to reading your reflections of the trip once you return. Will you be continuing the blog after you get back?

    Thanks for creating this!
    Mr. Farrell's Fun Friend from LaSalle :)

  2. Hey Folks!

    This sounds terrific. You must be learning a lot. I wonder what it feels like to be on the outside of the US looking "in."

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Sounds like hard work today. What a gift you have left the community. Profound observation. You guys are the awesome examples of the best of our humanity. I'm going to have to ask Michael about "monkey heads."

  4. I love these pictures! It looks like you folks are making a huge difference in the lives of many! And what a lovely thought to want to return someday to visit and see how the community has evolved and changed. See you soon!!

  5. It's great to hear about your experiences!

    Sounds like a wonderful trip...