Project Restauración's Fellow, Amy VanderStoep, discusses the experience of working on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
All of the FIMRC project sites are working towards a similar set of goals but each one has a unique personality that makes the experience of being there special. While the various projects and staff make a huge difference in the individuality of the site, the community and location define the FIMRC experience.
One of the definitive aspects of FIMRC-Dominican Republic is its location on the border of Haiti. Although the site is in the Dominican Republic, we have ample opportunity to visit and work in Haiti as well as to witness the problems experienced by locals living on either side of the border. As the FIMRC site continues to grow and expand, we have been able to work our way into Haiti in more and more ways.
Our latest expansion began on a hilly soccer field in Restauración when one of the players approached me and my fellow intern Rachael. He had heard that we worked for a non-profit organization and his request was for our help in funding a new soccer field in Tilori, Haiti. We explained to him that, while our foundation did not have the resources to just give money for a soccer field, we would be interested in working with him and the Youth Sports Association in Haiti that he runs. He came to meet with our Field Operations Manager who explained to him the educational programs we are able to offer and connections we could try to make with other organizations in the US to help with the field. He seemed really interested in trying to develop this relationship.
Since this meeting, we have been working with the sports organization and have been able to provide them with jerseys, other sports equipment, and some lectures in health, focusing on the girls in the Sports Association. Not only does this provide a new definition for the FIMRC website’s declaration that we are “one project site, two countries”, it also provides an expanded opportunity for volunteers to experience another aspect of Haiti.
While the language difference between Spanish in the DR and Haitian Creole in Haiti presents an interesting obstacle, we are still working to expand this program by incorporating various aspects of our existing educational programming and some new programming. Hopefully, as we continue to develop this relationship with the youth program, FIMRC will be able to have an even greater impact with this one project site, in two countries.