This past August, I led a group of 15 Trinity Habitat volunteers to the Dominican Republic. Each day, we drove from our hotel in San Juan de la Maguana to a small community just outside of the city. The homes were very small – single rooms of 150 or so square feet, with concrete or wood slat walls and dirt floors. As you can imagine, dirt floors are a breeding ground for disease. When they are replaced by cement floors, there is a dramatic decrease in parasitic infestations, diarrhea, and anemia, as well as an overall increase in quality of life.
During our trip, we painted the exterior of homes bright pastel colors, mortared joints of a newly constructed Habitat home, and most importantly poured new concrete floors into the existing and occupied dirt-floor homes. As I write, the images and feelings of the trip are resurfacing. I am failing to come up with words powerful enough to reveal the impact. It was life changing. The joy of serving those at this level of stark poverty is intense. It feels great to do good!
I took my 20-year-old daughter, Mary Catherine, on the trip. The trip profoundly moved her. On the last day, leaving the community where we worked so hard, she gave away just about everything she could – extra clothes, the necklaces we bought for my other daughter and wife and her own modest jewelry. Tears filled her eyes as she even gave away the necklace around her own neck. Tears filled the eyes of the little girls we were leaving. Tears filled my eyes too. It was powerful and moving. Writing this fills me with emotion and a strong desire to return!
We went to serve and serve we did. Those families are sleeping on concrete instead of dirt! That is a game changer. Despite our work, I feel like they gave me more. Their kind hearts and joyful spirit, despite the deplorable living conditions, was illogical and inspirational. It challenges my, by comparison, opulent lifestyle. I am ready to go again. I need the counterbalance of their Dirt Floor Wisdom in my life!
Trinity Habitat for Humanity
While 99% of our effort and resources go toward working with families here at home, we also organize one-week “Global Village” international mission trips. The need is so great, and our support goes so far! These are life-changing trips, and you can’t help but create strong bonds with those you’re serving and your fellow volunteers! We would love to have you join us for a future Global Village trip. You can learn more and see our list of upcoming trips on our Global Village page.