A.One.8: Reflections on Our Time in the Dominican Republic
By Ashley Fink
29 July 2017—Hola de República Dominicana! Hello from the Dominican Republic! This week has been a whirlwind of activity and it is nearly over. I am saddened when I think about the fact that our time together is coming to a close. However, we have made many memories, and I plan on cherishing them for a long time. I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of what we have been doing here in the DR.
We started our week off by visiting the IJM, International Justice Mission, at their office in Santo Domingo on Tuesday. IJM is a great organization with branches around the world. The one in Santo Domingo focuses on rescuing victims of human trafficking. We got to learn about their organization, how they work, and then sang praise songs, read scripture, and prayed with the staff members. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the week. One of the things I learned about human trafficking in Santo Domingo that surprised me was how many exploiters who profit from human trafficking are women. Some are raised in prostitution themselves. Then, when they are older, they recruit girls who are minors and lend them out to buyers. This fact really got to me and made my heart ache for these victims and the exploiters as well. It made me really happy to know that IJM has been making a difference by rescuing victims and helping them by offering therapy, a safe place to stay, and a way to learn better ways to make money. They also take the exploiters to trial, with appropriate evidence, so the exploiters face the consequences of their actions.
On Wednesday, we got the opportunity to start connecting with some Dominican youth. Together, we all traveled to Jarabacoa, a city in the mountains. There, we participated in an evangelical service for children. There was worship music, games, a skit, and a message. It was a great experience, and I feel we were able to bond with the kids. On Thursday, we all went on a hike to a beautiful waterfall where we got to swim! Despite the language barrier, we have had a lot of interaction with the Dominican youth that have been with us since Wednesday. Some of us know a bit of Spanish and some of them know a bit of English. We all use a lot of hand motions to convey what we don’t know how to say. What I enjoy the most is when we all dance and sing together. It is my prayer that the relationships we built last and that we can stay connected even after the trip is over.
Today (Saturday) we are going to get the opportunity to sing and do a children’s message in a church service. Some of the Dominican teens and some of the A.One.8 students will be singing “Oceans” in English and Spanish, and then the A.One.8 students will put on a skit that we came up with. I am very excited, and I look forward to making more memories before we leave Santo Domingo. Adios!