Wednesday, February 24, 2010

message for Jean Paul, Corey and Chris

Did you know that the house that John´s group was working on belongs to Gabriela, Elly´s friend. We did the wood and the roof on that house. Another group of John´s has almost finished the paint and it should be ready to move in very soon.

Tomorrow, we are off to Rancho Arriba to get some coffee and Friday we leave for a resort in La Romana for a well deserved rest.

A mardi, tout l´monde. Nous serons de retour au Manitoba.

semana 5

casa # 2 almost all painted. Powerview should have time to paint the exterior cement and the house is ready to move in.
casa #3 blocks finished . pret pour le bois

casa # 1 painted and ready to move in

Denis update

News and Tidbits from Derrumbado, Dominican Republic
February 20, 2010

Another sunny week in Derrumbado. Even after three weeks on location, sunblok lotion is still in order. Temperatures range between +30 degrees and occasionally drop to + 15 during the night. Humidity is usually a factor. No dry clothes in the morning, unless you bring them into the sleeping bag with you. When you get up, everything is moist.. For the locals, this is the “cold” season and many wear their jacket all day. The kids are rather interesting: they wear shorts, t-shirts and run around barefeet or in flip-flops at all times of the day and evening. They seem to suffer little from the cold and humidity. And the adults constantly say : “Muy frio”.

Newly minted vocabulary :
lightless not as heavy as before
lightlessness the state of not being heavy
mentally not ready to re-invent the wheel

Teams of experts have been identified:

the parging – plastering team : stand-up comedian Greg plasters, assisted by Raymond; the foreman tries to keep up with the flooding; Marie and Cecile sponge the parging smooth. One house = one day. Quite a feat considering the first house took the local crew 3.5 days.

The soffit team : Gerard and Jacques have it under control. The foreman just points to the soffits and walks away.

Have a wheelbarrow to fill ? Just call Louise and Denis

Have to move wheelbarrows ? Call Robert and Paul

Have an odd job no one else has yet tackled ? Call Cyrille

And what about Monique and Gilberte ? Wait till you hear their story.

Great news: cereal has been added to our eternal ham and cheese breakfast food items. It all started when one of us bought a box of cereal in San Jose and brought it up the mountain. Now a box of cereal is a regular at the breakfast table.

Interesting Tuesday : the Powerview-Pinefalls group joined our ranks. Somewhat of a surprise for both groups. We now total 20 and outnumber the locals within a half-kilometer radius. Picture the following SARDINE scenario: one bathroom (sorry: biffy without all the trimmings), one shower powered by our 7 imported shower bags, one cook, one small table for all the food, utensils, plates, etc..., 11 bunks in two buildings, tons of suitcases, personal items strewn everywhere, clothes of all types hanging from hooks, rafters, shutters and the occasional chicken walking through.

We have now completed two homes, have started on the paint and have finished digging out (pick and shovel) the foundations for the third home. Today we pour the foundations and begin the cement-block works, time permitting. Families moving into these homes are ecstatic. We would all be ecstatic considering it's a 1000% upgrade.

Evenings around the campfire in Derrumbado are most interesting. Every day, shortly after supper, our two 'adopted' locals, 13 years old Junior and 16 years old Carlos, take off down the road with a
wheelbarrow each, and return some 30 minutes later with huge loads of deadwood, gathered some distance away. As the sun sets, around 7:00 pm, Meme gets the bonfire going, people gather around and the evening is spent talking, singing, sometimes dancing. By now, most locals within our reach join us for this evening ritual. From a distance, way below, we can see the lights of San Jose. These campfires will be missed greatly.

Every day I become more and more aware of the demanding lifestyle of these Derrumbadians. The day begins at 7 and seems to end between 5 and 6 in the afternoon, with an hour' rest at midday. Women spend the day making meals over wood fires, washing, fetching water as frequently as 4 and 5 times a day, caring for the children, helping their husbands in the fields, when required, and tending to the animals. The men leave early, many with a mule, for the fields and the mountain slopes, to hoe, plant, sow, pick the crop in season, gather firewood, Everything is done by hand and is back breaking work. The staple food is rice, accompanied by beans in sauce and the occasional slice of fried salami. The big meal of the day is at noon. These young and old hard working, gentle, reserved and welcoming locals are incredibly strong. The first time you pick up one of the kids, you are surprised by their strength and weight. That delicate little girl is as hard as rock and can pack a friendly punch not to be ignored.

This weekend, its the beach and visiting the family in Sabana Larga, where we built a home last year. Monday, Gilberte and Monique are heading back home, Robert and Denis are off to the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanols Orphanage in San Pedro de Marcoris, where Father Edouard Banville works, to plan one of next year's missionary outreach programs and the balance of the group is back in Derrumbado till Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning, all volunteers will become tourists, taking temporary residence in one of La Romana's many resorts.

Wish you could all be here to savor the experience.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

semana 2 RRMRR

Monique au travail et Gilberte qui se repose.
Jean Paul, Corey and Chris Guess whose house we're building now. Le debut de notre troisieme maison.

Now that's a coffee grinder!!

We finally convinced Greg to pretend to work!!!

That pick is getting heavier all the time. Nous commencons un nouveau site.

Denis has the rhythm down pat, but Jacques needs more training.

Gerard et Jacques encore sur la finition

After using a chair to climb up on the horse, everything was uphill after that!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

la primera semana RRMRR

Des petits citrons , small lemons

Cecile Gerard et la moitie de Jacques

Marie & Greg Good job Marie!!!

Dominga, mother of 4 & 5 year olds bringing water up the hill to her casa. Quite the TREK!

How many Canadians does it take to saw a board?

Gerard Jacques Paul

Monique the Party Animal

Denis Carlos and Junior

Denis update

Carlos, son of Derrumbado

The 16 years old, born, raised and educated in the mountain range, remains a source of amazement even after 3 weeks. He spends every spare moment with us when he is not back home picking coffee beans, gandules, or bananas. He displays surprising skills and knowledge for his age, though brought up in incredible poverty. We visited his parents, a physical feat in itself, walking up and down mountain slopes so acute the mules well-honed footing would slide in many places (no, we were not riding the mule). The “encampment” (365 a year) of three “shanties” was nestled in a most charming end-of-the-path nook of tropical-like forest. The so-called “buildings” cried out the difference of the surrounding beauty. Carlos, the youngest of 8 or 9 children (the number changes every now and then: we blame the discrepancy on our limited Spanish). His oldest brother's appearance could double as his grandfather”s. Many locals, especially the young, walk barefoot, saving their sole pair of footwear for school or special occasions. Most of the adult men walk barefoot in rubber boots, all day, every day. Women mostly wear flip-flops. And the temperature soars in the 30's every day. Most homesteads (no sarcasm intended) are comprised of living quarters (usually two small rooms) a separate makeshift “something” to cook in and an old style “biffy”. Today, one the volunteers had to go into a dirt floor home to fetch supplies: one bedroom had a double-sized bed touching all three walls and was constructed of poles collected in the forest, tied with baler-type twice, including the springs, on which lay a 2 or 3 inch thick mattress filled with “something”, a shocking site to a Canadian who might be embarrassed to house animals in such quarters. One can find such living conditions at every home along the way. As many others, Carlos' place is isolated from the “beaten path”. Everything is carried in or out or hauled by mule, sometimes so heavily laden you would think it abuse. And yet, it negotiates the mountains as if “t'was nothing”. These people of the mountains are physically very strong, their daily struggles keeping them fit and displaying enviable muscular endurance. Not much obesity here. 'Petite' Dominga, Carlos' sister, mother of Yesi and Yose (4 and 5 year old), fetches water on foot, once or twice a day, some half kilometer away, down a fairly sharp incline, and returns with the three gallon jug on her head and a gallon jug in each hand. She neither hurries nor shows any sign of fatigue and walks so gracefully you would think her going to a dance. I went to help her with the 3 gallon jug one day: I developed quite the admiration for her and have not offered to repeat the experience.

Carlos and his friend Junio showed up as we arrived on location in Derrumbado and became instant favorites, along with many others. Carlos is a people-person, outgoing, well-spoken, very smart, musically talented, as hard working as you could ever expect a 16 year old to be and displays obvious leadership skills. Carlos and Junio relish in entertaining us every nite around the campfire, The two show up with wheelbarrows full of dry wood for the campfire and as nightfall settles in, find local items to drum on or shake and on and beat local tunes. They sing local favorites but also make some up, many of which express appreciation of our presence, some teasing, others wishing our stay never end. One can feel their talent as their drumming improves from nite to nite. They are quick understudies and give promise of a future that could be filled with great accomplishments, given the opportunity. One wonders about Carlos and Junio 50 years down the path of life. Would higher education be a favor?
No question they have the smarts, but how much harm could the sophistication, negative influences and norms of our so-called “modern world” inflict on them, their family and Derrumbado? And yet, what
about equal opportunity and the future?

Their world is mine for 5 weeks. I pray I am blessed with enough clarity to fully appreciate the gifts of Derrumbado, of Carlos, of Junio, and all the other unspoiled wonderful human beings which make up this moment of my life. When I leave, I will have known acceptance, down to earth joy, unencumbered freedom where the only expectation is that you be your respected self.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Depart pour la montagne Leaving for the mountain

We will be leaving for Derrumbado this afternoon around 2 p.m. Nous repartons pour la montagne cette apres midi vers 2hoo.
Blog you next weekend.
Au plaisir de vous bloguer la fin de semaine prochaine.

Bye Bye Ste Famille Hola RRMRR

Livraison des effets medicaux Delivery of medical supplies

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Medical Kits

At this point, there is nothing we can do. You will be gone by the time the offices open on Monday.

Update from Louise and Cyrille

Hi everyone. It is nice to hear from you guys through the comments section
Je regrette si la section francaise n´a pas d´accents, mais j´ai beaucoup de difficulte avec le clavier espagnol.
Greg, we needed that tarp last Monday again. It rained and again we had wet beds. However, we will not be needing that tarp as we are moving into the new house. They did bring in a new tarp for the roof of the old shack.

If anyone has a USB, please bring it along. It would be very convenient as it takes a long time to post pictures. Denis could be writing his update while I post pictures and he could then bring it to me on the second USB. It does not need to be of great capacity as it will contain only text.

We will all be meeting you in La Romana on Monday!!!
See You
Louise and Cyrille

Corey´s update

Freedom of Poverty

The night before we left, Adesjo had a surprise for us. We were taken to the local community center where we met the other group from Hamilton, Ontario. They had a lot of energy but were ready to head home. We ate supper and received very nice going away gifts. The whole time, all I could think of was being with our true and close friends back at the house. We were looking forward to our own party when the sun lays down behind the hills. Little did we know, they had a little surprise for us also.

We arrived back at our house and were greeted by a fire and our friends. We were all relaxing when out of nowhere they bring up two massive speakers and car stereo. Before we new it there were 30 people dancing and singing with us. They love their music and they all know how to dance. The kids could dance better than the adults. With no electricity where they are, tonight was something special because they can't do this very often if ever. Everyone was having the time of their lives. When I was not dancing I was playing tag or hide and go seek. While playing as if I was a child, I had a realization. This is true freedom. The freedom these people have everyday. Each day they have enough to get by. There world is untainted and uncorrupted. It is a simple but routine lifestyle. They work hard and for that they are fruitful.

Seeing all of this first hand has really opened my eyes. Before I came here I could have listed many problems I think I have, as I'm sure we all could. Now I truly see how miniscule my troubles really are compared to the average person here. We take so much for granted when we are blessed with so much. We complain and whine all the time when really we have nothing to fret about. Even the homeless in Canada have it better than most of these people. The poverty here is acccepted. It brings everyone closer and keeps them busy. This place feels like a home away from home. No one complains and most everyone does there part. They are free to do as they please. I will miss this freedom... The freedom of poverty.

Second week deuxieme semaine

The second family has four boys and one girl. The father is out picking coffee. Their clothes are very torn and ragged so we brought them a goodie bag today. La deuxieme famille, 4 garcons et une fille, sont tres pauvre, alors nous leurs avons apporte des habits etc... Le papa fait la cueillette de cafe.
The house being replaced at second site. La maison que nous remplacons au site deux.

Finishing the inside walls. Looks like our house will be ready for us to move in next week, so you guys will have room in our old shack. Notre maison sera prete pour nous la semaine prochaine, alors vous pourrez avoir notre vieux shack a votre arrive.

Almost done first house. Premiere maison presque complete.

Livraison des effets scolaires. Delivering school supplies.

Family of first house. La famille de la premiere maison.

Starting wood construction. Le bois commence a monter.

Hi every one!!! We have started the construction of a second house. Nous avons commence la construction d´une 2ieme maison.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Having fun On s´amuse

Denis vous raconte

Le 31 janvier, 2010

Ce fut une semaine extraordinaire et déjà nous avons vécu la valeur de trois semaines d'expériences. Situé.e.s dans la montagne, à quelques 3 500 pieds, San José de Ocoa à nos pieds, nous vivons la vie du pauvre et nous vivons parmi les pauvres. Nous faisons partie d'un ensemble de quatre viviendas et notre résidence cri des mêmes besoins que ceux de nos voisins proches (très proches). Après quatre jours seulement, nous formons une famille unique (dominicains et canadiens) et jouissons d'un esprit de groupe spécial. Déjà, les huit membres du groupe de la Sagrada Familia expriment l'émerveillement d'un monde simple, libre, inclusif et sans sophistication. Au fur et à mesure de chaque journée, les expériences se multiplient et les mots manquent pour décrire l'impacte profonde sur chacun.e. Je ne pourrai pas, à l'écrit, faire justice à la réalité. Il vous faudrait être ici pour ressentir et vivre les moments précieux.

La construction de notre première maison est avancée: fondations complétées en moins de deux jours et on complètera les premiers cinq pieds des murs par lundi soir. Hier, nous sommes allé.e.s à la plage Palenque nager dans la mer des Caribes. Ce matin, le Père Domingo nous a présenté.e.s à la communauté à la messe de 8h00. Cette après-midi, c'est le retour à Derrumbado afin de reprendre les travaux dès lundi matin à 8h00. On a hâte!

Je ne pourrais faire ce compte-rendu sans mentionner certains faits saillants:

Chris et Corey ont pris une tournée sur un âne, à la noirceur! Chris a ri à s'en rendre malade et Corey s'inquiétait que l'âne allait 'briser'

Jean-Paul, et plusieurs autres, ont appris comment tenir des braises rouges de feu dans la
main. Ils ont même jouer un jeux de se lancer ses braises. Il faudra leur demander une démonstration.

Quand on est arrivé.e à Derrumbado, mardi après-midi, il pleuvait. C'était de la boue partout, glissante comme la glaise du Manitoba et partout ou on marche, ça descend ou ça monte. Toute une expérience de se rendre à bas côte à la 'biffy' extérieure avec une lampe de poche, tout en glissant, ici et là. Seulement quelques chutes. Hélas! Quel début.

Notre résidence est air climatisée, c'est-à-dire qu'elle est pleine de trous: mur et plafond. Quand il vente, on le ressent, quand il pleut, on le subit. Les lits superposés et les valises ont maintenant été rangés pour accomoder cette pluie intérieure. Heureux ceux qui dorment sur les lits d'en bas! On est enchanté d'y être.

Il n'y a pas d'électricité, pas de radio, pas de miroir, pas d'eau courante (il n'y a pas d'eau, il faut la transporter par camion) pas de..., pas de..., C'est merveilleux.

Notre cuisinière SANTA est exceptionnelle. Elle vit avec nous. Pas question de perdre du poids sans faire un effort personnel et concentré.

Nous vivons en compagnie de poules, d'une grande quantité de poussins, de cochons, d'ânes, de chevaux, de chiens, de mules, de coqs et probablement d'une autre bête que je ne mentionnerai pas. Et évidemment, les coqs et les chiens dominicains n'ont aucun concept du temps et pensent qu'ils peuvent s'exprimer à tout temps de la nuit!

Nous vivons tellement d'expériences que je peux ne mentionner que les plus saillantes. On tentera de vous revenir la semaine prochaine. 'On verra dans l'temps comme dans l'temps'. Ici, les gens disent : Si Dios le quiere. A bientôt.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Denis vous raconte Denis tells you what´s what

Saturday January 30, 2010

What a great week! We've only been here 5 days and have already lived 3 weeks of experiences. We are situated in the mountains at approximately 3500 feet altitude with a terrific view of San José and surrounding mountains. We are living the life of the poor and we are living with the poor. Our immediate world is made up of four viviendas (shacks). Our's is neither better nor poorer than our three very close neighbors. Together we make up a rather unique ensemble (dominican and canadian) and have developed an interesting group spirit/culture. If you speak to any member of our group of eight, he/she will express his/her astonishment of the simple life, of freedom, of inclusiveness and of the absence of sophistication. As every day unfolds, experiences keep adding up, experiences that words cannot fully describe the impact each one has on each and everyone of us. You would have to be here! Every moment so far has been rather special.

Construction on the first house is quite advanced. Foundations have been dug-up, poured and the first five feet of the cement-block walls will be completed by next Monday afternoon. The vivienda will measure 400 square feet.

Today was an excursion day at Palenque Beach on the Carrabean Sea. Tomorrow, Father Domingo will introduce us to the community at the 8:00 am mass. Then its back to Derrumbado mid-afternoon to begin construction again at 8:00 am Monday morning. Everyone is anxious to get back. A few gifts have been bought and a social activity planned for the younger ones.

It would be unfair of me not to share some tidbits of our stay in Derrumbado so far:

Chris and Corey took a ride on a donkey, in the dark. Chris almost laughed himself sick and Corey thought the donkey would break. A few people had to help Corey get off the donkey. Guaranteed the locals will never forget the moment.

Jean-Paul can now hold red hot ambers in his hands, as can many others... believe it or not. They even played a game tossing these red ambers to each other. You will have to ask them for a demonstration.

When we arrived in Derrumbado early Tuesday afternoon, it was raining. Mud everywhere; slippery mud like our Manitoba gumbo. And if you go anywhere, you are either going uphill or downhill. Going to the outhouse, at night, with a flashlight, slipping, sliding and falling down will not be forgotten. What a day to begin our experience in the mountains.

Our vivienda is well ventilated, so well so that you can see through the multitude of holes in the walls and the roof. Quite easy to tell when the sun comes up at 7:00. You can feel the wind and endure the rain drops. All bunkbeds and suitcases have now been placed strategically as to fit in between the INTERIOR rain. We love it there and would not trade for a more modern vivienda.

There is no electricity, no running water (there is no water, it has to be trucked in), no radios, no mirrors, no colmado (small store), no... You get the picture. It's wonderful.

Our cook SANTA lives with us and treats us to incredible meals. If one was to lose weight, one would have to be very determined and well disciplined.

We are living in the company of chickens, a multitude of chicks, pigs, cows, donkeys, horses, dogs, roosters and probably another animal! And of course dominican roosters and dogs have no concept of time. They think, it quite appropriate to express themselves freely at all hours of the night.

In the interest of meeting a deadline, I will end here and hopefully be able to return to you next week. There is so much more to describe. For the RED RIVER MISSION group of eight coming down on M onday Feb. 08, please take note of the following:

It can get rather cool at sundown and overnight. Bring an extra blanket or do as many of
us do, sleep with your clothes on.

We are frequently stepping into wet material, mostly cement. Review your footwear.

Sunblok is a must. You should see most of us 'lobsters'!

Aussitot que possible, probablement demain dimanche le 31 janvier, nous vous ferons parvenir la
version francasise. Pour le moment, le temps nous manque, ou nous allons manquer de se rendre a l'internet a temps. Hasta luego.


That is it for this week. Nous descendons a San Jose
C est si beau!WOW

Les formes sont finies The forms are done

The rythm of the bucket keeps going

bringing down cement bags le ciment descend la cote

preparation rebar

A Derrumbado

And the work begins Le travail commence
Our first supper in the mountain and its raining Notre premier repas dans notre residence

Our residence

What a view!

notre residence

site de construction