World Servants NewsVolunteers Help Build Dominican Republic Classroom Addition
February 5th, 2013
Lifetouch, a provider of school photography, established Lifetouch Memory Mission in 2000 to help communities in need around the world. Lifetouch volunteers have traveled to destinations throughout the world to spend a week doing intensive volunteer service.
Our daughter, Lori, assistant principal at Princeton High School in New Jersey, was selected with 25 other school administrators from around the nation to participate in this unique experience. They were joined by Lifetouch photographers, and leaders from World Servants, a non-profit humanitarian organization.
In December, they traveled to Constanza in the Dominican Republic to help local volunteers build a four classroom addition to an existing school, allowing 200 children to attend the school in morning and afternoon sessions. After landing at the airport, they were taken by bus on a three and one half hour trip in the rain and fog to the village. Constanza is a small, mounta
inous, fertile farming community. Often referred to as the “Swiss Alps in the Caribbean,” it is situated near the tallest mountain, Pico Duarte, in the Central Cordillera Mountain area of the Dominican Republic. The green meadows and pine forests appear far from the usual image of the Caribbean.
Memory Mission’s purpose is greater than a construction project. Its mission is to bring hope to the families in the area they serve. Lifetouch never leaves the site without taking time to photograph the families and school children. This is often the first picture some have ever had taken. Some have never seen themselves in a photograph until a Memory Mission volunteer takes their
picture. Lori stated that after the photos were taken, Lifetouch flew the photos from the USA to the Dominican.
After each student received a packet, volunteers helped them separate the small photos to exchange with other students and with the volunteers.
This was a special treat since they had never had a picture taken before.
During that week, the volunteers not only did block and concrete work, they applied stucco and finished painting classrooms. Lori said they played with the children at recess, traveled into the villages to meet families and attended church service with the community. The group took suitcases filled with much needed home and school supplies for the children and their families. The amount of su
pplies each member of the group brought with them “took your breath away,” she remarked. They had the opportunity to learn more about the Dominican lives, families, traditions and their culture.
She observed the sad living conditions, shacks smaller than her office, housing seven or eight people. Yet the shacks were decorated with Christmas lights and the people were happily celebrating the season. Those in charge of the school hope to add a playground and vocational school component in the next few years.
Lori hopes to visit the area sometime in the future. She remarked, “I see how our own school community is so giving- our Princeton High School students are involved in so many service projects. To be able to give these children and their families hope for a better future was something really special. The relationships we were able to build with the children, their families and the community went above and beyond what I could have ever imagined.” Lori was able to appear to her students back home via a live video feed where they learned first-hand about her experience.
To learn more about Lifetouch visit www.lifetouchmemorymission.com.
Ft. Loudon Sidelights is published every other Saturday. Anna Rotz can be reached at 369-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.