Libertyinspectiongroup.com 610.717.3082 MARCH 2018
A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE TRAVELING TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WITH MY DAUGHTER
A lot of American kids, including my three daughters, live in a comfortable bubble of privilege. Sure, they may not receive every single thing they want, and they’ll struggle every now and then just like any child, but on the whole, it’s an abundant, easy life. Growing up in this life where every need is almost instantly met, I think it’s common to lose perspective. You could make it all the way to adulthood without developing any real understanding of how other people, cultures, and communities might live.
My daughter mostly helped out by taking care of a few of the local kids who ran amok while the adults provided the manual labor. While their mothers were working right alongside us, my daughter was holding babies, keeping the toddlers entertained, and engaging in this amazing cultural exchange.
Both of us were struck by how the locals went about their day-to-day activities in ways much different than what we’re used to. There were families who got their water from a well and lived out of a block house — not much more than a concrete slab and a metal tin roof with only two working outlets. One family of eight shared a single bedroom, the two parents sleeping in a small bed while the kids slept wherever they could find a comfortable spot to lie down. The whole community acted almost as if it were one big family. If a neighbor’s kid was getting into trouble, the elder neighbors had free reign to discipline them. It was an incredibly trusting, cohesive place. Despite their humble settings, everyone seemed just as happy as could be. They were all so kind and welcoming, eager to bridge the language differences and spend some time with us. It’s funny: When we picture traveling abroad to share some time and resources, Americans often imagine we’re going to help the locals to lead a better life and teach them important things you assume they don’t understand. We think we’re going to offer some aid toward “saving” them from poverty and steering them to a happy life. But in the middle of that town, with the whole community pitching in and the kids scampering around laughing, it was clear to me that the people there already had a great and happy life. It’s just a shift in context and perspective. In the end — and this is probably a cliche — I think the locals helped us more than we helped them. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in that completely different world with such wonderful people. My daughter and I can’t wait to go back as soon as we can. –Chris Earley
It’s always been important to me that my young daughters avoid this pitfall. Every opportunity I get, I encourage them to see things from other perspectives, trying as best I can to foster the natural empathy and curiosity that comes with being a kid. To that end, I brought my 13-year-old along with me on a church mission trip last January to an impoverished town in the Dominican Republic. Though our church has had a humanitarian partnership with this small town for about eight years, it was the first time we had been there. Needless to say, it was an incredible, eye-opening experience. Three years ago, our church traveled there and built a playground for the community. This time, our mission teamwas quite a bit smaller, so we couldn’t do anything quite so big. But we contributed in any way we could. Mostly, that entailed repainting the beaten-up playground and sprucing up some of the local wooden marketplace stands to help them get more use in the coming years. We also worked together to build an enclosure around a big outdoor stove in the middle of the town just behind their community center. The man who runs it makes pizza, donuts, and bread for the entire town. Now he won’t have to worry about wind, rain, or teenagers messing around with his equipment
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