Below is reflection written by sponsor Isea Kelley after returning from a youth trip to NPH DR this April.
On the morning of April 14th, I arrived at the airport with my father and my close friend to head off on a weeklong service trip to NPH DR. Little did I know that the week ahead was going to change my life forever. When we arrived in the DR, we walked outside as a wave of heat hit us all, and with a sigh of relief we all secretly appreciated the warm weather we hadn’t experienced in months. We got on the bus and rode through the streets of San Pedro to the NPH home. This was the first time I had seen such poverty - there were families of five packed on small mopeds and cows eating garbage bags on the side of the road. About 20 minutes later we drove through the gates of NPH. We got off the bus, put our things in the visitor's house, and took a tour. Although it felt somewhat awkward at first to be in a new place with new people, I loved every minute of walking around the home with hot rain hitting my face.
The next morning we were eager to spend time with the kids! Upon arriving at the boy’s house a little boy wrapped himself around my legs and would not let go. He was playing on the ground with sticks and pulled me down by his side to play! I didn’t realize this at the time but this little boy, who I now sponsor, changed me forever. We spent the rest of the day building and flying kites together! It was eye opening to see the kindness and openness these boys, and all of the children at NPH, have for each other and for us as visitors.
During the week we helped out around the NPH home and in the batey. Singing classic Disney songs at the top of our lungs, we loaded giant sticks in a truck and mixed concrete. Working each day in the batey was a way for us to help and meet other children and adults. While we were mixing concrete, strangers would walk by and give us a cheerful “hola”. These small gestures at both the NPH home and in the batey filled my heart – as sharing a wave or a hello with a stranger in the states is rare. Never in my life had I had more fun, than when we made an assembly line passing heavy buckets of concrete to one another while listening to Spanish Pop music. The rest of the week, when we weren’t working, we spent time with the children. There was endless amounts of playing games, dancing, making kites, playing catch, and drawing. Although all of these things seem simple, the time we spent together with the children was so valuable and special.
As the week came to an end it was heartbreaking. Endless amounts of hugs were given all around and we had to say our final goodbyes. A few tears rolled down my cheek as I said goodbye to Jose (the boy I met on the first day), some were tears of joy and some of sadness. Joy because I was so incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity and to meet such kind and amazing people, but sadness because I knew that I would have to wait so long to come back. My time at NPH DR was a time that I will cherish for the rest of my life, but I know that I will hopefully be able to go back sometime soon. This trip changed me for the better - without this trip I would have never realized the true joy that comes from giving back to others. I am extremely thankful for this experience, the children, the people I met, and the friends I made both in the DR and right here at home!