Jessica Molloy
Jessica Molloy
Dominican Republic 2019 - 2020
I am traveling to La Vega, Dominican Republic and will be working with New Hope Girls! This is a safe house for girls ages 7-17 seeking refuge from sex trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. I will be the certified teacher on site of the safe house! Read More About Jessica →

in a different light

Super real post, get ready. 

I was honestly just waiting for the tearful, beautiful, difficult, frustrating, joyful, laughable week to arrive and here we are. 

It is 11:16pm and I am standing under my fan waiting for my scabies cream to dry. Just so you know what’s going on, there’s that visual. 

When I said yes to this journey, I knew what I was saying yes to but didn’t realize how much it could impact me. This week, two new girls arrived to the safe house with stories that have allowed me to see the world in a different light. I get frustrated with that different light sometimes but I am grateful to have it but most times I am angry with it. Many want to ignore that light, ignore the part of life that can break our hearts, but there is something that happens within us when we look straight into that light. Looking straight into this light can hurt our eyes but more so, it can hurt our hearts. When we look straight at it, we can’t ignore it, it stays in our eyes and creates those little white stars when we look away. 

These stories shine bright in our direction at New Hope and we don’t walk away, we won’t walk away. We walk toward this hurtful, frustrating, burning light. Looking at the world in this “different light” can hurt so much but it can be so wonderful once you touch the light and care for the light. 

I prayed a few years ago for the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His. I really do wonder why the heck I prayed that prayer. I guess I was just young and with no idea just how much God would show me. I found myself experiencing the answer to this prayer when the girl arrived to the safe house this week. I had been told her story a few moments before she arrived and I knew she was coming so I was preparing some clothes for her and found myself crying over a bin of socks. Her story is one of the toughest that we have heard but she is safe now. She is that light, shining bright for us to see. 

Now here I am waiting for my scabies cream to dry, reflecting. 

Each day is a new day here at New Hope. Each day is new light. My boss and friend, Joy, told me that she has this weird thing that happens when she tries to remember someone. She said that she doesn’t see their face, she can’t picture them. But she remembers the way they made her feel or the words that she remembers them saying. I feel like she sees the light in them, she sees the inner being within. This is the light, the light that burns and hurts but is wonderful. 

After my tough week, Joy wrote some poems for me. I thought I’d share them here: 

A GIRL

She is 11 with the stature of 7

I wonder why she is so tiny

I wonder how anyone could look at her

and see anything but a tiny

GIRL

There are 1,000 stories that bring our girls to us

and 1 thing they all have in common

someone, sometime  – sometimes many, many times

looked at her and didn’t see

a GIRL

a prize, a piece, a possession

an opportunity, an object

But NOT

a GIRL

Today as we held up new clothes to her waif of a body

We choked back tears

Because all we could see was a GIRL

a tiny

vulnerable

GIRL

And Today she begins the journey

to see herself as she truly is

A GIRL

Full of wonder

and promise

and Hope

Created for a purpose

A Holy purpose

A GIRL

_____________

New Hope Days

She wasn’t prepared for what

She’d see or experience

even though we told her..

She had no idea how the dark stories

would literally break her heart

She had no idea how deep

she would love and laugh

How hard she would fall

So Fast

Tonight she stands beneath a fan

trying to process her day

between tears and belly laughs

as her scabie cream dries. –LOL

and she prepares her mind for sleep

REST deep

because tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow truly is another day. Another day to fight, another day to laugh, another day to shine bright. The school year is upon us here in La Vega. Uniforms are ready. Vera Bradley backpacks are filled with supplies. And the light of New Hope is excited to enter school.

Goodbye summer, hello number 2 pencils, fresh markers, & eager learners!

Amor, 

Jess

my twin, Ada & bff, Patricia

super excited about being a 7 on the enneagram!

my new dog, Chiquito....lol jk

pretty much matches the title of this post

my new Vera Bradley lunch box, shoulda seen my face when I got it

watering the jardín 🙂

mural city in Santiago :))

Vera Bradley backpack day!!!!

oh I ran a race! with my new running club that I met at the track!

some running gal pals

the faces of ppl who woke up at 4am

getting ready for their first day of school! gave them their New Hope uniforms today and they wanted to have a photo shoot with their teacher 🙂 yay! my first students!

Lionesses

I HAVE A ROUTINE NOW! ...it will probably change knowing Dominican culture and just the ins and outs of working in a non-profit, but as of right now...I have a routine! That said routine looks like:

7:30am – waking up to the sounds of music and girls screaming “MA” as they are waiting for breakfast

Breakfast for me & journaling

9:30am – my first class of the day! This class is two of the younger girls that are eager to learn but get frustrated when I only speak in English. “Miss Jessica! Por favor habla en espanol primero y luego en ingles” But I have learned that conversation and acting out of sentences when speaking is the fastest way these girls are going to learn English.

10:30am – my second class of the day! This class is with the super young girls, the six year olds to be specific. This class looks like a lot of Simon Says and sitting criss crossed applesauce together.

11:00am – my third class of the day! These are the older girls so naturally the class is called “The Big Girls”. Today I broke the news to them that I was only going to be speaking in English when the class began. They were mad at me but by the end, they knew that that was going to be the best way to learn. This is the class that knows how many more opportunities there are when you are bilingual, so they push themselves to get to that level. They get frustrated for about 80% of the class but we work through it each time.

BREAK

3:00pm – my fourth class of the day! This class is one on one with the psychologist, Ada! She is amazing. She understands most English but there is a need for her to be a translator in the future and for her to go to the states and promote New Hope Girls while speaking in English so this class is opening doors for her. She and I just sit and talk about anything. I know that she and I will get close with this hour together each day.

4:00pm – my fifth class of the day! This class is made up of the advanced English speakers in the house. There are three girls in this class that have been passionate about English for a while now and are able to understand me. I sit with them on a couch and make the class very casual. We talk about life, our stories, our highs and lows of each day all in English. I truly believe that they will be fluent by the end of this year.

5:00pm – (Mondays and Wednesdays) my sixth and final class of the day! In this class, there are the caretakers! These women work two days at a time watching over the 15 girls in the house. This hour on Mondays and Wednesdays is solely for them. I use this class as a very conversational class as well and am hopeful that this will open more doors for them in the future in their work and speaking to the American visitors.

These are my summer class hours, but during the year I will be teaching the girls that are not quite ready to go to a school in the neighborhood yet. School starts on August 19 here so that is when my English classes are pushed to Saturdays and I just teach all academics during the day. I will mainly be working with the new six year old! She is a cutie and loves to count to ten!

Now that I have somewhat of a routine, I feel more settled here and am starting to call this place my home. Although I miss my friends and family very much, I know this is where I am supposed to be this year. There are moments when it is harder than normal but I have my co-workers to lean on. These women that work for New Hope Girls are some of the most incredible ladies I have ever met in my life. It was just the other night that I reflected while in devotion with the girls and the two caretakers. I looked around the small room filled with eighteen women and girls and felt a peace, a peace for these girls. These girls are learning that they are now in a safe place, a place of refuge. Each day, the caretakers are reminding them that this is a safe place and we will take care of them. Many times, girls ask “Who will take care of me?” because they are so accustomed to worrying each day of their basic needs. But now that they are here at the safe house, we always reassure them that they are safe and they are being taken care of and that their needs are being met. When I looked around the room, I felt like the caretakers were lionesses protecting their sweet cubs. These women are warriors for these girls and each night I love to remember that. This house wouldn’t be here without them, these girls would not feel loved like they do without them. This is a house of light and hope and the caretakers are a huge part of that.

These women are strong, fierce, and so beautiful. Today, give that strong woman in your life a huge hug, she will love it. 

Amor, 

Jess 

 

beautiful view from our summer camp (beach trip)

rough life as a teacher in the DR

desayuno of my dreams

walking the bridge of Samana with my faves

a surprise quince for our sweet caretakers!!!

ana and ada !!

paintings from camp!! the girls learning that they too are crowned

that’s my Moto...Lol jk

some aesthetic bananas

our garden!!! I will for sure be using this area for plenty of my lessons

our girls with their princess paintings

the BEST staff ever!!!

Dominican Wal-Mart, I love you

Well, almost two weeks down. I think I have each of the girls’ names memorized, all my pictures up in my room, wifi figured out, transportation is still in the works sometimes, and I’ve found my favorite store (La Sirena! Basically a Dominican Wal-Mart). I arrived to La Vega, DR last Sunday, July 1st after a mini vacay in Puerto Plata with my parents. We, of course, met at my new favorite store, La Sirena with my boss and were brought to the original site of the first safe house/school. She brought us to the barrio, up a steep, muddy hill to a small house that was used to house girls for many years. After this, we drove to a different neighborhood to our most recent safe house. It truly is amazing how much God has done in New Hope Girls since the beginning. The safe house where the girls are is also where I am living. This gives me the space to know each of the girls intentionally and walk together through life for a year.

My first day of work looked like meeting with the psychologist, Ada and figuring out my schedule. During the summer until school starts, I will be teaching English to each of the girls, the women in the workshop, the psychologist, and the care-takers. During the year, I will be working with the girls in transitional care, the ones that are not able to go to school yet, working on all academics together. This will allow the girls to not regress in their learning while they are not able to go to a school in the neighborhood. Also, during the year, I will continue with English with each girl, caretaker, and woman. With learning English, all girls and women of New Hope will be able to communicate with their visitors, future workers, and those of collaborations in the workshop like Vera Bradley.

These first couple days here have been amazing, overwhelming, difficult, joyful, tearful, and truly wonderful. Lots of emotions, right? I thought so, too. Getting to know the stories that each of these girls have has been one of the highest honors I have held in my life and I know that I will continue to feel that way throughout the year. But as for now, I’m holding on, I’m exploring, I’m teaching, I’m learning, I’m challenging myself, I’m discovering, and I’m loving it all....even the hard stuff.

Welcome to my journey, a crazy, messy, imperfect, still figuring it all out journey. Walk with me, pray with me, chat with me.

Amor,

Jess

The girls made a sweet sign in my room with cards to welcome me!

New Hope’s doggie, Sofia

Nail night!

My first classroom filled with these beautiful students

My bedroom!

Miss Jessica and her giant white board

Looking out the window at the beach on our first outing!

La Sirena always supplying the necessities.

Bienvenidos!!

Well here we are. Welcome!!! Or shall I say, Bienvenidos a mi blog! My name is Jessica Molloy and I just graduated from Belmont University majoring in Elementary Education as well as Christian Leadership. In a few short days, I will be on a plane heading to the Dominican Republic. This truly has been a dream of mine and now it is becoming reality! Isn’t it crazy how life works?!

I will be the certified teacher on site of a girls safe house in La Vega, Dominican Republic serving the girls in transitional care that aren’t able to go to school yet while their cases are still being litigated. I will be teaching the curriculum of Montessori Methods and Project Based Learning and I could not be more excited!

Some other emotions these past several weeks before leaving include but are not limited to:

– Stoked

– Nervous

– Expectant

– Ready

– Not Ready

– Most of all, grateful

Over the last month, I have been visiting with family and friends to prepare myself for this new journey ahead. As an Enneagram 7, I have been a little nervous about leaving for a year, so I have filled this month with activities to distract me from thinking about moving. Although I am excited, the nerves got the best of me so throughout the months of May and June, I found myself in Phoenix visiting with my beloved friends from middle school, going to my favorite beach with my childhood best friend, packing & reminiscing with my Nash friends, traveling to New York to give my brother one last hug goodbye, & going fast on the boat with my sweet parents. It has been a wonderful two months but I am ready for Republica Dominicana! These pictures show my May and June adventures full of hard goodbyes but many encouraging words they exchanged with me these months. Goodbyes are hard but I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. Teaching in the Dominican Republic with an organization that values empowerment and healing is a dream come true. I cannot thank Lumos enough for this incredible opportunity placed in front of me. The best is yet to come!

Throughout this process I will be taking you on my journey as I step into the unknown and discover more of the world! I’m up for requests and suggestions on what y’all want to hear but as for now, I’m just waiting to meet my beautiful students!!!

Here is a link to a video about the New Hope Girls organization if you want to learn more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J-xFO8fz-8

Amor,

Jess

Sweet goodbyes with my cousins, Christy and Amy and my Aunt Lynn 🙂

Phoenix with my best friend, Vivian! We bonded over poetry and music <3

Left to right: Alyssa (taught me to love fully those around me), me, Leah (taught me to be my authentic self), Mia (taught me the power of passion and standing up for what I believe in), & Julia (taught me how to be fearless during the valleys that life gives us)

Tradition continues of driving to the beach together before I leave! Love spending time with childhood best friend, Michelle!!

Taught Nashville besties how to pick crabs in Annapolis, Maryland (my family’s summer home) Love you, Mallory and Hannah Beth!

Great graduation time with my brothers, Nick and Kev! Hope they visit me in the DR!

Last but certainly not least, the people who raised me and supported me on this journey abroad!