Every Monday and Wednesday, my service partner and I spend two hours at an afterschool program called Caritas Licey. There, kids from lower-income backgrounds who live in the neighborhood can come to get lunch. It is run by a group of nuns who teach the kids crafts and lessons on theology. My partner and I contribute by teaching English lessons and bringing different crafts to do with the kids. Some days we will teach them songs or play games with them in English. Other days, we will do origami or color with them. Then, we help the Sisters serve lunch to the kids.
There have been some very challenging things about volunteering at Caritas Licey. It’s hard hearing about the difficult situations that the kids face. Many of them are from lower-income homes and their family lives are not always the best. It can be challenging to teach sometimes because the kids are misbehaving during our lessons. Sometimes it would be difficult to get through a lesson because they were distracted or fighting with each other. I have also learned a lot of discouraging things about the education system here in the Dominican Republic. For example, most kids only go to school for about four hours a day and many drop out early.
Overall, though, I had a great experience with these kids and the nuns we worked with. It was always great to go to service and find that the kids were excited that we were there and to see what we had planned for the day. Most days they would get really into the crafts we had prepared and the games we played to teach them words in English.
The kids and the Sisters taught me many things that I hope to bring with me when I go back home. They taught me to be creative; for example, the kids did not have many craft supplies, so we would usually have to be very creative with the materials that we used. We would bring toilet paper rolls, soda pop bottles, and egg cartons from the kitchen. They also taught me about simplicity; it did not take much to entertain them. They were perfectly content playing marbles with us or sitting down and coloring for thirty minutes.
I am glad that I was at this service site because it challenged me in new ways, but it was also just really fun. I hope I always remember the kids at Caritas and the things I learned while serving there.
Comunidad 18 member