Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tomas

Hurricane Tomas was more like a lot of rain here in Puerto Plata than a full blown hurricane. This means while it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it still wasn’t good.  Water rose in the barrios as high as 3ft last night and it’s just now receding today. When this happens all they can do is try to keep their things dry and open their doors and windows. The reason for this is that if the water rushes in it could collapse the whole house if it has nowhere to go. Electricity is going in and out and it is still over cast. This makes it pretty hard to dry anything that got wet. It is a bit comforting to know that this isn’t the first time any of this has happened to these people and they know what to do in this situation. However, there are always the worst and best cases. The staff here is very small so it makes relief a hard thing to accomplish. I will still teach English tomorrow at the club and I will either have no students or a ton of kids just wanting to get out of the house for a bit. Please just pray for these families and the hard time they are having right now.

HALLOWEENIE!

Since I am in a Spanish speaking country you may think that everyone celebrateded the Dia de los Muertes yesterday, well they didn’t, just Mexico. No one really celebrates Halloween here. At the club we had a big party for the kids though. We did face painting and had a ton of candy and snacks. We also did a haunted house which was so funny. It was a great day for them and us! Later that night we had a sleep over/lock in with all the girls. So great! They had never really done anything like that before. We danced, painted nails, watched movies, ate junk food and let them stay up way too late. While we were dancing one of the girls Patricia looked at me and yelled AHhhhhh, La Gringa puedes bailar! The white woman can dance! It was great sleeping on the floor with them and getting to bond, one of my favorite nights here for sure!

My computer is still broken and I’m waiting to hear back on what they could recover and how much longer, My hard drive crashed, in case you are just tuning in. Also, I had a show down with a large roach that decided to come in our house. I, like the warrior I am stared it in the face, and jumped on the couch. Seriously, the biggest bug I have ever seen. So, after a twenty minute show down of me trying to hit it with the broom and running away, Chulo the dog tried to bite it and got it on its back. So I hit it with the broom, pushed it into a mac and cheese box, hit it with a shoe and threw it away! Life is good! Lots of pics to come!

October Letter from Abby

Letter Ten (October 3, 2010) – Math Lessons and a Sacred Crocodile Pond

In this week’s letter, Abby discusses how she and Ayla find themselves having to combine lessons because the Ghanaian teachers regularly let school out too early. They also try to devise new ways of giving their students the individualized attention they need in certain subjects, particularly math. Abby has an interesting weekend visiting Takoradi, Nzulezo, Busua Beach and Egyambra, where she witnesses a fetish priest feeding a live chicken to a crocodile.

Helping with classwork

An individualized math worksheet

On the way to the Nzulezo stilt village

Busua Beach

Waiting for the crocodile feeding in Egyambra (skirt made in Ghana!)

The sacred crocodile, just fed by the priest in Egyambra

Leaving Egyambra after the alligator feeding

September Letters from Abby

This week, Abby continues to teach Computer Technology, Natural Science and English. She is learning by trial and error the best ways to convey information to her students, a constant challenge considering the language barrier. Abby decides not to travel this weekend, and to instead attend the funeral of a woman who has died in her village, which turns out to be a fascinating cultural experience.

Teaching a Natural Science class

Children marching in celebration of the woman who died

Dressed for the funeral march

Ghanaians attending the formal funeral service

Abby and Ayla, a volunteer from Australia, begin teaching together and dividing their teaching duties. Abby confronts the unique challenge of teaching Computer Technology, despite the fact that the school has no electricity, let alone computers. She and Ayla also decide to establish class rules, which they hope will provide some order. This weekend, Abby takes a ferry ride on Lake Volta and sees baboons at a nature preserve.

Attempting to demonstrate how a mouse and mousepad work, using a cell phone and a book

View from the ferry ride on Lake Volta

Baboons outside the Shai Hills Resource Reserve

Guided through the Shai Hills Resource Reserve

This week, Abby begins her work as a teacher at the Mt. Zion School and finds that it is less organized than she had hoped. She also realizes that the children in her class vary greatly in their skill levels, which she fears could pose a major problem in teaching them. Nevertheless, she continues to be impressed by all of the kids she works with, with one incident involving popped balloons leaving her utterly in awe at how creative the kids can be. Abby also makes her second trip to Kokrobite Beach, where an unexpected illness leaves her wondering if she has malaria.

The Mt. Zion School

Teaching a Natural Science class

As the summer holiday draws to a close, Abby prepares for her upcoming role as a teacher at the Mt. Zion School. She is also enjoying getting closer to the kids and visiting with them while they eat lunch. Abby also takes a trip to Keta Beach, where she visits another historic slave fort and has a journey through Keta Lagoon on an unsettlingly leaky boat.

Hanging out at the orphanage

The slave fort in Keta Beach

Boat trip in Keta Lagoon

Boat trip in Keta Lagoon

Citadel!

My Citadel Adventure The Citadel is a fort on the top of a mountain in Haiti! King Cristof led the slaves in revolt against France. He built his palace at the base of the mountain and the Citadel at the top. It took 17 years to build and 20,000 people died. Here is my video...I will explain more later!

Gua Guas, Tap Taps, and Motos

Well, you may or may not know that I went to Haiti last week. It was quite an adventure to say the very least.  Traveling there is unlike any travel experience I have ever had.  The trip starts with a Gua Gua out of Puerto Plata. A Gua Gua is a small 20 passenger bus. They pack them as full as sub-humanely possible and you ride shoulder to shoulder with a stranger for an hour. We then had two more Gua Guas and a Tap Tap when we got into Haiti. A Tap Tap is the same thing in Haiti OR it can be a small pick up truck with a camper shell and two benches in the back. We were fortunate not to have to ride in the back of a truck. Crossing the border wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but then again we got really lucky. You only have to pay if you are a Gringo. Luckily, as we were walking across two huge trucks went across at the same time and we managed to get through without paying. There are no real border restrictions. Haitians and Dominicans can come and go across the border whenever they want. If the border is closed and you need to get across you need only to swim across the river underneath. If you don’t want to swim you can get in a wheel barrow and be pushed across by a Haitian or one will pick you up on their shoulders and carry you across.

At this point you might be asking “Amber, why don’t more Haitians just cross the border into the Dominican Republic?” Well, I’ll tell you. Dominicans don’t like Haitians. Haiti has invaded the Dominican Republic twice. One time they occupied for 25 years and closed all the schools and opened all the prisons. Dominicans have been let’s say upset at Haitians ever since. Haitians that do live in the DR are poor. They live in Agua Negra and Playa Westa. They also form their own sort of towns in the abandoned sugar cane fields. 

When you cross the border in DaJambon the first thing you see is a big muddy feild filled with motos.  They swarm you and pull you to get on their bike.  James, Dove’s Haiti Director, decides which ones we take and tells them where we need to go and before you know it you’re off.  Roads in Haiti are the most trecherous. For every 5ft. of cement there is 10ft. of pot holes. It is terrible to drive on. I wanted to look around, but was afraid that at any moment I would fall off  if I didn’t pay attention.  There were people everywhere, most just getting out of church. From there we got on our last Tap Tap and made it into Cap Haitian.

Cap Haitian wasn’t hit by the earthquake. Port Au Prince  was the city destroyed by the quake,  Cap Haitian just felt the tremors. However, it is very much a city distressed. There are people everywhere. Many buildings are made in the French two story style; think  New Orleans French Quarter. The buildings, however, are made of cement and if people live in them they live upstairs. Often there are no doors or windows, it’s almost as if they are squarters. Below are usually stores. You can’t tell what stores are what because they aren’t usually marked. If they are marked it might be an old sign. Many people sell things on tables or out of wheel barrows on the side walk. A quick fact about the side walk. The roads are lined be ditches full of trash and sewage. The sidewalks are are all along these ditches and one misstep will land you in a pool of disease.  Not to mention there is trash everywhere. There is no public sewage or trash program.

This is my first glance of Haiti. We will call this part one.

Crazy Blog

Ok really quick my last post, Dulces, got cut off from crazy internet and crazy blog. Long story short; this is still an incredible experience and I am eager to soak it all in!

August Letters from Abby

Abby tries to keep lessons at the orphanage fun, while dealing with challenges presented by a sometimes apathetic orphanage staff. As she learns more about the kids at the orphanage, she is continually impressed by how inventive and resourceful they are. She also takes a trip to Cape Coast, a city home to a national park and two historic slave forts.

Reading practice at the orphanange

A section of the canopy walk at Kakum National Park

The slave fort in Elmina

A Ghanaian guide leads a group through the slave fort.

Abby continues teaching lessons at the orphanage while also getting to know the kids better – she is quickly adjusting to the realization that kids half her age are much better than her at soccer. She also discusses the importance of price negotiation when purchasing everything from wooden crafts to taxi rides, as well as her trip to an amazing waterfall in the Volta Region.

Flag drawings from a lesson at the orphanage (some of the kids may have taken some liberty with the colors...)

View from the tro on the way to Wli Waterfalls

Making the climb to the upper Wli Falls

Wli Falls

Abby and a few other volunteers take the kids at the orphanage on a day trip to the Boti Waterfalls, as she continues to confront the challenges of teaching geography and other subjects to the seventeen kids of Mt. Zion Orphanage. She also discusses her weekend trip to Accra, the capital of and largest city in Ghana.

The kids head to Boti Falls.

Boti Falls

Abby in front of Independence Arch in Accra

Abby talks about the challenges of organizing lessons for the seventeen children of the Mt. Zion Orphanage while they are on holiday from school, as well as her trip to Kokrobite Beach.

Teaching geography in the orphanage dining hall

Kokrobite Beach

Beads for sale in Kokrobite