fathom Journey - Day 5 - Dominican Republic

Okay, so...up early again, wolf down a couple bites of breakfast and jump on the bus.

THIS is what I came here for. Yesterday was spent pouring concrete floors. Talk about Impact! All of the activities have been good. But, just the way I'm wired I guess, the nebulous and entirely intellectual understanding of how increasing production in a paper recycling operation, or the clear but future and global (rather than personal to any one person) benefits of restoring the decimated forests are all well and good but they don't really grab me by the gut and the heart.

But meeting this family - mom, 14 year old daughter and two boys 10 and 7 if I recall correctly - and putting in a floor so these lovely children don't have to live in dirt and mud...that's real, that's now, that's (pardon the pun) CONCRETE. And here's the thing: I understand poverty has many causes. Some imposed on people by outside powers. Some boil down to bad life choices. But in no case is a kid responsible for their circumstances of their birth. Whether their parents are victims of volunteers, no one asked them. So, in my mind, it's just never not a good idea to help a child. And these three kids were just incredibly sweet.

So it was really a life changing (as well as a leg cramping back aching) day. I've poured plenty of concrete in my life, but where I'm from we have mixing machines. and work at ground level and/our make ramps so the concrete can be brought in by the wheelbarrow full. Or, on a job this big, you call in the Red E Mix truck and he just pumps in the product. Where we were, trucks can't get. and the houses are 10 feet apart. and the dirt floors are built up several feet. So, it's all about mixing small batches on the ground and making a bucket brigade to carry the concrete in a one gallon bucket at a time. Like the folks at the reforestating project, I think the IDDI facilitators were really surprised how many of us showed up to work. They kept talking and hinting around at what we were going to do. Finally some of us just grabbed a wheelbarrow and some shovels and started shoveling. And mixing. and filling buckets. and dumping them in. and in about 3 hours we were done.

And then the most amazing thing:

So, yeah...I came back to the ship tired, sore and joyful. Because I really KNOW I helped some random family improve their lives. Also really grateful - to be able to do something for others. to be blessed by being born in better circumstances than a large part of humanity. and to fathom for the opportunity to flex my gratitude muscles.

Then...back to the ship and another wonderful dinner at Ocean Grill, etc. I could go in to detail about the dinner and the party I stumbled in to later, but honestly...I want to just leave it here, and bask in the glow.

I'm not even going to hustle you to book a journey. But I do believe if you try to live any kind of other-centered life - fathom journeys might be exactly the trip you've been looking for.

So...manana we'll be heading back to Miami.

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