Dear Community of St. Joseph’s,
I am pleased to share with you the following summary of Megan Wright and Jenn Clark’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic. As Megan explains, the mission’s work and commitment to others on the island is reflective of many of the values we share at St. Joseph’s.
“Partnering with SCORE (Sharing Christ Our Redeemer Enterprises) International Ministries, Jennifer Clark from our Admissions team, and I, travelled as part of the Saranac Lake Baptist Church Mission Team to Juan Dolio, in the Dominican Republic (DR).
While serving alongside SCORE, we spent time at Josiah’s House boys orphanage, Pasitos de Jesus girls orphanage, Emmanuel House school (which provides education to children who don’t have birth certificates and cannot attend other schools on the island), two sugar cane villages, the capitol city of Santo Domingo and the burial site of Christopher Columbus, and a ministry called the Lily House (which helps rehabilitate women coming out of prostitution, human trafficking, and drug addiction).
We spent time cooking freezer meals for Josiah’s House, introducing bucket drumming, playing kickball, teaching basic emergency medical response, self-defense/therapeutic crisis intervention techniques, therapeutic safety techniques such as those in the Sanctuary Model, hosting orphans and their sisters at the SCORE facility swimming pool on the DR’s Independence Day (most had never even been in a pool), completing small repair and building projects, and teaching ballet to the residents of the girls orphanage, as well as just spending one-on-one time with them.
Many Saranac Lake community members and supporters from outside of the local community donated several items including 160 ballet slippers, over 70 dresses (many brand new), bulk medical supplies, as well as hygiene items to name but a a few. A modestly dressed girl in the Dominican culture is more protected from human trafficking than those dressed less modest or seen as orphaned, so donating so many beautiful dresses to the girls orphanage enforced the message that they are loved, cared-for, and part of a family.
It is evident that there is little in the way of public services in place for the Dominican people. The landscape was littered with garbage, the smell of burning trash was constant, and the island’s natural water source is largely undrinkable. SCORE has funded several purified water filtration houses to provide the people with clean drinkable water which helps further a spiritual ministry in the communities.
The sugar cane villages suffer the poorest of poor conditions, with disheveled shacks as homes, no clean, running water, and living conditions that just seemed surreal. It was about 85 degrees outside, and inside a small hut home was just as hot, with a strong mildew smell that makes the inhabitants ill.
What SCORE has established as a ministry really displays a love for the people on the island. SCORE also invites medical teams which go into the villages to provide care. One place in particular is called “the dump”, where orphaned children actually live among the piles of garbage; and who said they are “like a brotherhood”, and none of them will leave the dump even though they will accept medical care to fight disease and parasites. They trust nothing else but the expectation of the next garbage truck dump each week.
It was an amazing opportunity to serve alongside SCORE for a week and gain a better understanding of how we can make a difference in this life by working together to better the lives of others through servant love. Whether here at St. Joe’s treating those oppressed by addiction or on an island in the Atlantic, we are reminded of Psalm 82:3, ‘Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.’ We are all part of this Great Commission.”
• Megan Wright, Accounts Receivable Specialist