BACES spring break trip is an eye opening experience

Bwalya Mwaba

Contributing Writer

A service trip was never something I would have envisioned for myself. I was always someone who did not like getting their hands dirty or any kind of discomfort that would ruffle my feathers. We couldn’t flush our toilet paper down the pipes! This spring break challenged me and it was a beautiful, exhilarating experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat. I was lucky enough to be a part of the B.A.C.E.S. group that travels to the Dominican Republic during spring break. This was not the typical spring break by any stretch of the imagination. The sun was the same, the air was the same and yet the purpose was entirely different.

Upon arriving we were greeted by a fantastically choreographed procession. The children, who lived around the compound where we were staying, performed a traditional dance for us and that set our week off wonderfully. The following day we were at a medical drive that only happens once a year. People walked from as far as six miles to reach this service because they had no other means. There was consultation, medication and dentistry set up. I have never seen anything so raw in my life. We had to hold the heads of people as their teeth were being pulled out.

The next day we visited a school that the organization had built. We interacted with children ages nine to 19. We taught them English and played games with them while we were there. They were extremely athletic and competitive and enjoyed all sports, especially basketball, which was just as well for my group and I. The next day we returned to paint a wall of the school and a mural on the third floor playing area. It was fantastic because we were able to sign the wall, an indelible mark of our service work there and a creative addition to the school.

Thursday we had a food drive. This was the hardest day for most because the people receiving food were starving and some had physical disabilities. It was difficult because we did not know when these people were going to next to receive food after our drive. It hurt to know that the community right around us was in such despair, but it was great helping them and seeing the gratitude on their faces after being fed. We also visited many other neighborhoods to see how they lived and interacted with the locals. It was moving because they had so little but they looked so happy at the same time.

The last day I met a man named Ruben who is the head of a non-governmental organization (NGO) and is helping the poor of his nation. He has built homes for many people and has taken many off the streets into his own home. The main focus is to develop his community and help his nation grow through his foundation. We walked all over his farm and were able to cut down banana trees with machetes.

The final day was for travel and it was very emotional. I am extremely blessed to have been born into this life. My break was inspiring and it makes me want to do more to help those in need. It was a motivation for me and it was refreshing. It reminded me why I need to work hard and study at the University.

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