Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God loves you and there are people who don't even know you that want to help you achieve a better life...

Below is a testimonial from wonderful Friend and Godparent, Pat Henrickson. Enjoy!

Recently, my wife Maria and I got the opportunity to visit the NPH home in the Dominican Republic. Our extended family sponsors four children there and we were excited to get to meet them and see first hand the work being done. The trip was promoted through the Northwest office of Friends of the Orphans. It was expertly planned by Stacie Wallace and we were accompanied by our intrepid group leaders, Hailey Rademacher and Donna Egge. In all, eighteen of us attended from the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who wishes to take a similar trip can be confident that it will be safe and extremely well organized.

We arrived in the capitol city of Santo Domingo in the morning and were taken by bus one hour up the coast and then inland from the the City of San Pedro De Marcorís. I was surprised that the "home" is actually a sizeable community. Outside are tall walls that provide security for the children. Inside are dozens of acres with a school, a church, a clinic with a full-time volunteer nurse, a community kitchen, and a large garden. The children and staff were all very friendly and welcoming and our sponsored children were especially happy to meet us! More than two-hundred children reside here, living in small individual houses, arranged by age and gender. Up to twenty children live in each house. They are crowded, yet amazingly clean and neat. Each house has a live-in lady called a "tia", which is Spanish for aunt. The tias provide guidance and supervision.

On this trip we were volunteers as well as visitors. Keeping with the theme of the home, we were asked to help out, as is expected of the children. We painted buildings, worked in the community kitchen, helped in the school, and toiled in the garden. Of the work I did, I felt the most memorable was the day I helped build doors and shutters for a small house just outside the walls. Ten people lived there with no electricity or running water. Part of the NPH mission is to do outreach work in this nearby neighborhood. The poverty is unimaginable. Ultimately, though, it was a positive experience. It allowed me see the stark contrast between the neighborhoods that the NPH children come from and the life they have now.

Our most fun day was when we got to take our sponsored children to San Pedro for an ice cream outing. What American children take for granted was a momentous occasion for these kids. We also spent time during the evenings doing activities with the children and playing games. You quickly form a bond with them that makes it difficult to leave.

In the end, the thing that impressed me most about this home was the constant and consistent message being impressed on the children. It was handed down by the staff, by the tias, and by the priest. God loves you and there are people who don't even know you that want to help you achieve a better life. But with good fortune comes responsibility. You need to go to school. You need to do your chores and be respectful. You need to be a good citizen. Above all, when you have been given opportunity, you shouldn't take it for granted and you should give back. It was nice to be reminded of that message.


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