Staying only two weeks instead of three in Sosúa ensured the necessary stress. Certainly in the DR, where everything is checked (or not) at the last possible moment!
TUI has made trips for three weeks enormously expensive, therefore only two weeks away.
In Casa Marina I again met the now 80-year-old Nelly from Canada who, mainly for "our" Colegio Asher, had brought a lot of things, including vitamins for the children. Because of inadequate food, additional vitamins are an important weapon against the many diseases that prevail there.
With an open mouth I stood looking around the site of the Colegio Asher, with the two large buildings that are in use, and the third under construction. It has become a real, full-fledged school with many possibilities. For Judith and Roberto it is still a fairy tale, after having been housed more than 10 years in terribly poor accommodations.
The teachers are just as enthusiastic. As a result of the space and ventilation, children can now concentrate much better and it is safer than before.
This time again, together with Judith and Roberto, I also bought many teaching materials in Puerto Plata.
Regarding school uniforms, we have again given a nice amount to the Sosúa Kids Ass. in Sosúa, but slightly less than in previous years. As decided this year by our foundation's board, we ourselves are providing more school uniforms to newcomers. That means a lot more work for me, but it is definitely worth it.
Rosa from Puerto Plata helped me with finding the poorest children from her neighbourhood. At the store Jiminez in Puerto Plata, Rosa and I bought shoes, shirts and trousers for 10 boys and girls. These children came later to her home, where they received and tried on the clothes. A pair of shoes or shirts had to be exchanged. We repeated all this for another 10 children on another day. Rosa and I went quickly to the "receiving school" to bring some materials, which they can use to make nice things.
A source of inspiration for me continues to be the taxi ride from Sosúa to Puerto Plata and back, which I had to take every two days. As often stated in previous reports, here you are sandwiched with 7 people in an ordinary car, which does not meet any safety standards. All windows open, a lot of smells and dust, flat out continuously over centre line. But it is quick, cheap and you get free listening to a sermon with all kinds of Bible texts from the speakers during the half-hour ride. Everyone is quiet; one person listens attentively, another is frantically chatting. But the return journey is quite different. In a heated discussion between all the Dominicans present telling everyone, screaming loudly, how he or she has done everything possible to be a perfect spouse, but has been completely trampled into the ground by a base partner and now abandoned. The loudest shouts that you can better be alone. I can follow the outline of it, but the details exceed my knowledge of the Dominican language. That doesn’t matter, because I enjoy this genuine piece of Dominican theatre.
Finally, at the very end, we have provided 29 children from the rural area with school uniforms and other things. Teo and Teresita from the District of the Ministry of Education have helped me in this. Especially Teo knows the poor agricultural region well and has arranged the transport of the children with their teachers to Puerto Plata.
After everything had been postponed until the last day and then did not happen again, I almost gave up hope that we could help these children. But the world is still full of wonders, and on the Saturday before my departure on Monday, 29 very timid children with their teachers arrived after an hour and a half’s journey at Casa Nelson, the big department store in Puerto Plata. The shop staff helped the procession of children with patience and commitment to all their things and ensured that the purchases stayed neatly within our budget. With the 10% discount which I had agreed, we also bought some socks, notebooks and rulers. These children, who never come into the city, looked wide-eyed and some were too overwhelmed to be exuberantly happy with everything.
After having visited the Central Square with the pigeons, they left.
Personally, I was very relieved that also this mission was finally completed, even though it was at the last minute.