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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

DREAM summer camp

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | Monday, 18 June 2012 | Views [1240]

Here we are! Set to go for Day #1 of work in Caraballo. This morning I was up early; the best part of waking up is Dominican coffee (not Folgers) in your cup. With my coffee I had a delicious breakfast of bacon, braised potatoes, and toast. I keep asking about sugarless corn flakes but they haven't purchased any yet. As the first person to the bus I noticed a beautiful hibiscus.

In our favourite seats, Felo drove us down the hill and we were headed toward Caraballo for our first day. We were split into two groups; half of us will do construction and half will run the summer camp. My group is doing the summer camp today, Wednesday, Friday, next Monday, and next Wednesday. The rest of the days we're doing construction. It's vice-versa for the other group. I remember the days of summer camp, but my summer camp was vastly different to the DREAM summer camp. I went to an overnight camp in the mountains sponsored by Jay Nolan and was geared toward people with disabilities, but the DREAM summer camp is a day camp. There are three groups of kids: the youngest (around 5 to 8 years old), the middle group (9 to 12 years old), and the oldest (teenagers).Our group was broken up further and I was with Jace, Katie, and Larie whilst the other volunteers had their own lesson plans. Most of these children don't understand basic hygiene such as brushing teeth and washing hands, and even if they do understand their parents can't afford basic hygiene items such as toothbrushes and soap. So today we played "germ tag." The person who is "it" is the "germ" and if they tag a person they have to stay still until the two people who are the "soap" and "water" tag them to "clean them up."

Clouds covered the sky for the majority of the day so it kept the day cool and pleasant. As a snack for the kids I mixed up some Tang in a large Gatorade cooler and passed it out along with crackers to the kids.

Of all the kids, one I got to know today is Alfonso. He's 15 and was born in Caraballo. He sure is a ladies' man with a particular fondness for Kalli. The children were leaving the cracker wrappers lying around the schoolyard or sticking them through the the fence, and I had to yell out "no basura aqui" as I went around and collected more than two dozen wrappers. Rubbish is a substantial problem especially in rural communities here. At noon we walked over to the construction site for lunch. Most of the cinder blocks were already carried in, and we sat and feasted on our sandwiches, carrots, eggs (for some people), and cookies.

Carlee is really allergic to peanuts and doesn't eat just in case she has an allergy attack. There are no hospitals anywhere nearby and she says a helicopter wouldn't get here fast enough to transport her. Even if she's doing construction she won't eat because there's the possibility the other workers ate peanuts (or something containing peanuts) and then touched the tools without washing their hands. In the afternoon there's a different group of children. All in all it was a great day for the first day of their summer camp. We stopped at the colmado on the way back because some people wanted to get phone cards and snacks, so I got some Doritos. There aren't my usual options of organic chips here so I have to sort of take what there are. Back at Tubagua we reminisced on a great day and we each told the other group what to expect tomorrow, as my group will be at the construction site and vice-versa. A cup of coffee and a nice evening of relaxing felt great. I'm looking forward to construction tomorrow, even though it'll definitely be humid and likely be hot. Teo warned us that it's tough, but I'm ready.

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