Our experience with D.R. H.O.P.E. could not have possibly been better. We began planning our trip relatively late in the year and as were consequently pressed for time in terms of fundraising. To collect the $5 000 necessary to build a house we sold poinsettias, held a bottle drive, sold bricks, and were fortunate enough to receive two corporate sponsorships from Hadrian Manufacturing and Air Transat. We picked a great group of friends to go with which made the tedious parts of planning (such as paperwork) quick and simple! Prior to our trip we held two parent meetings, which not only comforted the parents (sending your child to another country for a full week can be a tough thing to do!) but also made the participants even more excited for our trip!
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I have never seen as many smiles at 4:00 in the morning as I did on the day that we left for the Dominican. All of our group members were filled with so much excitement that it really didn’t matter the time of day, or the amount of travelling that we had ahead of us. Our travels went as smoothly as they possibly could with a group of eleven teenagers and the second that we arrived I knew that all of the planning had been worth it. As soon as we exited the plane we were hit with a wall of heat (which felt absolutely incredible after this long, cold winter!!). We were welcomed by the open arms of Richard, Samantha, and Wilkin. The bus ride to Rancho Arriba did not feel like five hours because it was accompanied with so much beautiful scenery.
On our way to Rancho Arriba we stopped in San Jose de Ocoa to pick up some Dominican staples (vanilla and hot sauce!!). We stopped for dinner at a local chicken grill, which was unlike anywhere any of us have ever eaten. The food was phenomenal; french fries, BBQ chicken, and plantains (we ended up consuming a lot more of these over the course of the week… which was definitely not a bad thing!). After dinner we continued up the mountain to our site. We settled in and anticipated what the next day would bring! We were certainly not disappointed! Throughout the trip, all of our meals were amazing (particularly the guacamole!!).
Building the house did not feel like work… The workers created such a fun atmosphere that many of us didn’t want to leave the worksite at the end of the day! For many group members, their favourite part of the trip was at night when we got an hour to play with the kids. Despite the language difference, the kids were anything but shy! The kids were so hyper that “the American’s were here” that it was difficult to keep up with their constant energy… But the group certainly managed.
Handing out donations was very rewarding as we were able to see how happy people were there with so little. For many of us, donation day was a call to reflect on our own lives and what makes us happy. Through this experience, the Dominicans gave us more than we ever could have given them. They taught each and every one of us compassion and appreciation. Can’t wait to come back next year!
“H.O.P.E taught me what it really means to be happy. That it’s not where you are or what you have but who you are with. I was fortunate enough to meet the most beautiful, energetic, kind souls in the Dominican, and the time I spent with them and my Assumption peers, I will treasure forever. I would recommend this type of charity work to anyone looking to inspire their lives with gratitude and joy. “ –Kerri R.
“After a group of high school students spoke at our elementary school about their H.O.P.E. mission trip to the Dominican Republic I became sold on the idea of becoming involved in the global community. Six years later, I was given the chance to go on a H.O.P.E. trip and I immediately seized the opportunity! The impact that this trip had on me was tremendous. I enjoyed every second spent in the Dominican from playing with the local children to building the house. I have taken the lessons that I learned on this trip and translated them into my everyday life. The new experiences that I was exposed to on H.O.P.E. have made me happier, more compassionate, and more grateful for the things that I have. I can’t wait to come back next year and re-integrate myself into the incredible community that is H.O.P.E!” -Rachel K.
“I had an incredible experience on H.O.P.E. this past March. I enjoyed every minute I spent with all of the kids and seeing all of the beauty the Dominican Republic had to offer. I learned a lot about myself and the world on this trip by getting to experience a culture completely different from ours here at home. Also, over the course of the week I became much closer with my friends and had an amazing time with all of them. I would recommend that every high school student have the chance to go on one of these trips. I H.O.P.E. at some point I will be privileged enough to go on another trip like this in my lifetime. Cheers to H.O.P.E. 2015!!” -Jake H.
“My experience with H.O.P.E. was extremely eye opening to the hardships of the world that we in developed countries are shielded from. This trip made me thankful for all of the extravagant but also simple benefits that I live with everyday; things even as simple as a glass of water when I’m thirsty, a granola bar when I’m hungry and a bed to lay in when I’m tired. I went on this trip eager to work hard and build a house, but I quickly learned that the building process is such a small part of what H.O.P.E. stands for. I can’t wait to return next year so that the community can change my life in ways I never imagined one more time.”- Joe G.
“H.O.P.E. was an amazing experience. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip but I never realized how much it would change my life. We built a house for someone in need, but that was a small part if the amazing week. The part that affected me the most were the kids, they were absolutely adorable, there was always at least one or two walking around with us wherever we went, and they would always want to be holding you hand or on your back. They craved affection… This was what made realize the little things that I take for granted in my life. Of course I knew that we were privileged because we had houses to live in and food to eat, but I never thought about how It’s just a given that my parents and family would always be there for me. This has changed the way I think and how I prioritize the things in my life, hence H.O.P.E. has had an incredible impact on my life and I would definitely go back.” -Zoee F.
“H.O.P.E. was a very eye-opening trip for me. We were in a very different environment and people that lived a completely different lifestyle surrounded us. It felt amazing to know that we changed some people’s lives by building them a house, and I think everyone should experience this at least once.” -Lauren M.
“Going on this trip was a fantastic experience that changes you. It makes you appreciate all the privileges we have at home. Each H.O.P.E. trip you go on will be a new and different experience. You make a change in their lives but a bigger change is made in your life.” -Nick P.
“H.O.P.E. 2015 was incredible. Getting to build a house alongside the Dominicans was so rewarding, these are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever seen. They rarely took breaks…impressive! Even though we went on the trip for the purpose of building the house we were given so many opportunities to interact with the locals and in my opinion that was so rewarding. After our second day of working I had already found a best friend, he was 12 years old and such a gentleman. I can’t wait to go back next year and see him and how much he has progressed in school due to his incredible work ethic. We were welcomed so well at the compound that I can say without a doubt that I will return next year. I was taught so much on how to appreciate the little things in my life and definitely not wasting as much food. Richard and Samantha welcomed us so well that I felt like I was at home. See you next year D.R. H.O.P.E.” -Nathalie J
“I can’t even begin to put into words the way I feel about my trip to the Dominican Republic with H.O.P.E. Over the course of the week I learned a lot about myself and the world we live in. I was amazed by the amount of poverty I saw everywhere, in contrast to the amount of love and compassion I felt from the community. I now feel compelled to help these people. I am so grateful to have gone on this trip, and I can’t wait to go back.” -Nick T.
“ H.O.P.E. was an all around amazing experience! I think what made it especially great was that we got the opportunity to meet the family we were helping and to get to know many of the locals. I think that meeting all of them and seeing how appreciative they were for everything that was done for them taught me to appreciate the small things that I would generally take for granted. I loved every moment of my H.O.P.E. trip and would love to go back one day!” -Haley D
“Opened my eyes to a part of the Dominican Republic I had never seen before. Wonderful experience, looking forward to another trip in the future” -Matthew J (Chaperone)
A quick message from the On-Site Coordinators: We were so thankful to have hosted the March Break group here in Rancho Arriba and are very grateful for their contribution to our program, their dedication and hard work, as well as their participation with the promise to return. This group was very outgoing, thoughtful about their surroundings, and very interested in the culture of the Dominican republic, the daily life and how D.R. H.O.P.E. is able to sustainably assist so many needy families. Upon booking another trip, we look forward to welcoming your group back in the Dominican Republic in 2016! Thank you all for a wonderful week and your chaperones for allowing the week to run so smoothly.