by Jan Bedoukian
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, New York
Posted December 16, 2016
In 2016 Libros Para Los Niños made its tenth trip to the Dominican Republic. The traveling team this year included Bobbi Perez, Jan Bedoukian, Sandy Trombley and Julie Wever from St. John’s, Essex, NY; and Sue Armstrong from Holy Apostles Anglican in Pewaukee, WI. We worked with seven Episcopal schools in four towns: Santiago, San Francisco de Macorís, Jarabacoa and Barahona.
There are two Spanish words, colegio and albergue, that are constantly being used in Libros correspondence, reports and newsletters that should be defined. Colegio, which is a private school, as opposed to the word escuela which is a public school. An albergue is a hostel, refuge, or shelter — basically a protected place. In the Dominican Republic an albergue is located in poverty-stricken area. It serves as a preschool, kindergarten and an early primary grade school. In an albergue children are generally provided breakfast and lunch each day.
The team arrived in Santo Domingo on Sunday afternoon October 30 and drove immediately to Santiago. Our Mission began early Monday morning when we met Padre Hipólito to take him shopping for groceries in the Dominican equivalent of a Costco. Over 100 children are being fed this year in the Albergue Infantile Cristo Salvador. The albergue is situated in the La Yagüita del Pastur barrio of Santiago, a tough neighborhood rife with drug and alcohol abuse. Some of these children suffer from physical as well as mental abuse where as others often are not cared for as they might to be. Padre Hipólito is dedicated to caring for, feeding and educating these children. In this environment the children feel love and protection, which is not always the case in their homes.
Each year Libros purchases two 100 pound bags of rice for the albergue, which lasts approximately two months. Spaghetti and other types of pasta, sauces, sugar, beans and other food staples are also purchased. A typical meal for the children is plate of rice, beans and pasta. On special occasions the children are given cereal for their breakfast.
Early Tuesday morning we met Padre Tony for the two hour drive to San Francisco de Macorís to meet Padre Almonte. For the past nine years Libros Para Los Niños has worked very closely with Padre Tony who has guided and directed us to schools where our help was urgently needed. On this day Padre Tony wanted to introduce us to Padre Almonte and visit the Colegio Jesús Nazareno and the Albergue El Buen Samaritano under his direction. At Colegio Jesús Nazareno the science students gave a presentation in both Spanish and English. During the presentation, the students discussed the work they do and showed us various products that are made in the lab: lipstick, shampoo, perfume, soap and cleaning products.
We also delivered school supplies, a multipurpose photocopy machine and a Libros “Mapa del Mundo” for the colegio. Libros started giving the mapas (maps) several years ago. These maps are printed fabric which are lined and a sleeve made for hanging by Sue Armstrong. Over the past several years we have given these maps to schools in Monte Llano, Santiago, Jarabacoa, San Francisco de Macorís and Barahona.
Wednesday the Libros team returned to Jarabacoa to visit Colegio Monte de la Transfiguración. The colegio was the recipient of a Libros science lab in 2012. Libros purchased and donated a badly needed printer/copier — very important in the copying of educational material that students may not otherwise be able to obtain.
For the past three years Libros has been working with Padre Carlos in Barahona where he is in charge of the Colegio La Redención and the Albergue Jesús Peregrino. Unfortunately we could not fit the seven-hour roundtrip to Barahona into our schedule this year; however, it will be in our 2017 itinerary. In the early summer Padre Carlos sent us a “wish list” of items his schools need badly. We were able provide more desks and chairs for the growing enrollment, educational toys, puzzles and games, dry erase boards and book cases for the two schools.
The Libros team will meet in February, 2017, to discuss our goals and objectives for the year. These include:
— Continuing to provide books, art supplies, scholarships, and basic needs of the Episcopal schools in the Dominican Republic;
— Visiting Padre Carlos in Barahona and continue the aid for the Albergue Jesús Peregrino and Colegio La Redención;
— Continuing to help Padre Hipólito with his work in Albergue Infantile Cristo Salvador in Santiago;
— Helping the Albergue Buen Samaritano in San Francisco de Macorís;
— Furnishing needed equipment for the science lab of the Colegio Jesús Nazareno in San Francisco de Macorís;
— Planning for what Libros can do for the orphanage school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti;
— Continuing to provide the best education possible and to furnish the educational tools to make this possible.
Why do we do this? These are just a few of the reasons:
We humbly repeat the “gracias, muchas gracias, gracias a Dios para ustedes” words that we continually receive from the students, teachers and priests. We say “thank you, thank you very much and thank God for you” to our generous donors, who make our service to the children of the Dominican Republic possible. ¡Muchas gracias!
Sue, Sandy, Bobbi, Julie and Jan
The 2016 Libros traveling team