by Ed Gwynn and Lyndsey Davison
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
While working with the kids at Dove Missions in the Dominican Republic for a day, I was transported back to childhood. We played Jax, Jenga and Connect 4. We drew pictures of sunsets and palm trees. We swung high into the sky on the swing set and climbed across the jungle gym over a bottomless pit.
Lyndsey (my girlfriend) and I were asked to teach English Class. After much persuading from the kids, Lyndsey and Bella, the teacher, I was up in front of the room with a set of flash cards. I think that I was able to teach them a few new words. They may never know it, but I learned much more from them that day.
Spending a day with these kids helped me remember to use my imagination and to dream. It helped me put aside the generally insignificant anxieties of day-to-day life. Most of all, spending the day with these kids helped me remember that people have much more in common with each other than differences. Nowhere is this commonality more apparent than with children.
I remember going to day camp when I was a child. We would play the same games, draw the same pictures and imagine the same adventures on the playground. We had the same hopes and dreams. We had the same need for love and a sense of belonging.
The harsh reality is, although these kids are the same as we were as kids, their future is quite different. We were told that prostitution is the number one career option for most of the women in the area. Girls as young as 8-13 have already started in this occupation. Extreme poverty in the area means that things such as running water, electricity, or even 4 walls and a roof on their houses are not guaranteed. Some of the houses that we saw were nothing more than shallow caves dug in the side of the hill.
Dove Missions provides kids a temporary escape from the tough life that they were born into. It keeps kids off of the street for a part of their day. It teaches young women self-respect and confidence. Spending time with these children helped me realize how we are all the same. How peaceful this planet could be if we all looked at the world through the eyes of a child.
P.S. Did you enjoy this newsletter?
Even more, I’d love it if you forwarded it to someone you think would enjoy it.
If you need the “Eleven Steps to Your Great Vacation,” it comes free with a subscription to this newsletter.