In Our Village, La Loma Dominican Republic
For the past three summers, Valencia service-learning students have visited the Dominican Republic to host youth summer camps and help improve the living conditions of the families who make up a village called La Loma. They were soon welcomed as members of the community, and began to document their time there with wonderful anecdotes of family meals and musical celebrations. Students also took pictures that offer a glimpse into the community live enriched with love and respect for one another. People from La Loma were curious as to why anyone might want to write about them and how they live. However, what they don’t realize is that they have much to teach all of us about how cooperation and having faith can go a long way in building joyful community relationships. Their story deserves to be told.
The pictures and stories have since been used in the completion of a book. The book is called In Our Village: La Loma, Dominican Republic. The children of the tightly knit community of La Loma have had a much different childhood than most of us in the U.S., but their dreams for the future share our feelings of hope and optimism. Digna, age 10, wants to be a teacher, so she can help give other children in her village the same opportunities she has had. Frankelina, age 11, wants to be a doctor, so she can help heal people in her village once a hospital is built. Francisca, age 13, wants to become a lawyer, so she can help her community when there is a problem. The one thing that connects the aspirations of all of these ambitious children is their dedication to their families and their community, which is something we can all learn from.
In La Loma, a small community largely isolated from major cities, the simple act of gathering viable drinking water can take several hours. This is why the people must depend on their faith and each other to overcome every challenge they face. The tales the book relates of coming together to do things like building a church and cooking Sunday meals that feed entire families are so inspiring and indeed worth reading about.
Our Village: La Loma, Dominican Republic is currently available at any Valencia Campus bookstore, or you can contact Christie Pickeral at 407-582-4092 to have it sent to you. All the proceeds from the book will be used to improve the education system in La Loma.