By Jennifer Wallace
Five students at Algonquin have decided to start packing their belongings to go on a Missions trip to help those in need, including children at elementary school “Escuela Espacio de Amor.”
Clothes, school supplies and food are just a few of items students at Algonquin will have the opportunity to provide to families and children in the community of Puerto Plata in Dominican Republic.
“I gave one little girl a doll, she was all dressed up and the girl said ‘I’m going to call her princess,’ she didn’t even have one toy in her house and there were five of them living in that house where they cooked, slept, and burned charcoal,” said Joyce Edwards, a volunteer at the Spiritual Center and leader for the trip.
Funds raised will buy medicine for health-related clinics in the community where most of the children will have to be de-wormed before they can receive medical treatment and vitamins.
“They’ve grown up eating these things and are malnourished because that’s all they’re eating,” Edwards said. Many only have rice and beans to eat which they grow because it’s too expensive to buy food whose cost is geared towards the tourists.
Students will help in setting out clothing at the clinics as well, so mothers can choose what they need for their families and take a food helper.
Students are dedicated and raise their own funds to get there. They’ve already been looking to book a flight together. However, they won’t be leaving until Algonquin’s spring break of 2014.
“It’s about the experience of getting to see something different and come back and have a different perspective on life and the experience of being able to help the ones who need it most,” said Graciella Intungane, first year student in general arts and science environmental studies program and volunteer.
It is a team environment and they can also assist in teaching kindergarten classes at Escuela Espacio de Amor. Other schools may accommodate for the students as well.
Students are also welcomed to bring down costumes for the children. The teachers are very accommodating in allowing the costumes because it is something different for the kids and they can play dress-up.
The costumes are not for the purpose of Halloween though. The community doesn’t believe in that because it is considered witchcraft.
People in the community who are bilingual help in translating for the students while they’re there.
“Students can even bring an extra bed sheet with them because sometimes there’s a fire in the community while we’re there,” Edwards said.
Churches in Ottawa have also contributed to the trip, but it’s the hard work of the students that makes the difference. They ask people they know with kids to donate nice things the children can wear and play with, such as dolls and bears. Students may also bring down computers to bring to the school if they are donated, which they would take in their luggage.
“I’ll come back from this trip and be able to tell others so they can get involved too,” Intungane said.