Where giving is receiving
A trip to the Café con Leche School in the Dominican Republic
Fifteen young people from Texas made a trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to teach English at a school founded by Focolare member Marisol Jimenez in a poor neighborhood, where children didn’t have the possibility to go to school. The school Café con Leche (Coffee with milk, referring to the different shades of skin color of its students) is now supported by the government and gives over 400 children the possibility of education and a better future. Here’s what Glenn and Clare, two of the youth that went, shared about their attempts to give.
Glenn: What struck me most was the almost surreal bond that formed between us and the children. This bond of love, built by our interactions with each other, transcended our linguistic and cultural differences.
So our mission trip wasn’t like any trip to go and help people deserving of our pity, but rather an experience of mutual love that opened our eyes and hearts.
On our journey up through winding, dilapidated streets, I wondered how those children would perceive me, all of us. Well, we were greeted by an avalanche of children, all yelling and laughing, hugging us so tightly, as if we were family.
Clare: Most of us had never visited a place like Santo Domingo and this school. Driving through the barrio to reach the school, we saw trash-lined streets, many people without shoes, living in tiny cement rooms, working in the hot sun to earn a few dollars to feed their families. But over time, we learned of the true wealth of these Dominican people: a spiritual one.
I remember one little girl wearing a plastic ring that said, “Best Friends.” I told her, “I like your ring!” She removed it and handed it to me.
Thinking she misunderstood me, I replied, “No, I don’t want to take your things!” But she insisted, “If you like it, you should have it. We are friends. What is mine is yours.”
I stood with her stunned. She had a strength and generosity that I, too, wanted. What an incredible lesson I learned from this 9-year-old girl, that true wealth of the soul comes from communion with each other.
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