February 13, 2011

...Different Reality

The place where I am spending most of my time is called the Oratorio of Don Bosco's Youth. They have a website which provides a great deal of information about the work of the Oratorio, except it is all in Spanish. So,  I've put my translating skills to the test to give you a little tid bit on the place where I am working...
The Oratorio of Don Bosco Youth Center in Jarabacoa, was founded in 1947 by several priests. Their intention was to create a Salesian based atmosphere which would attract young people and provide education and life skills while exhibiting what it means to be honest citizens and people of faith.Primarily, the Oratorio was only open to children and adolescents on weekends. But while the hope of providing the city's youth with a recreational area void of the negative influences and dangers of the streets, more space was created so that the Oratorio was available to the youth in the afternoons and evenings, seven days a week. Throughout the years, a variety of courses and workshops have been created as a way to inspire, educate and prepare youth for employment. Since opening, the Oratorio of  Don Bosco has become a huge center for influence on youth and children. There, the young citizens of Jarabocoa and its surrounding villages are able to play sports and explore art and culture through music, drama, choir , dancing, etc, while being taught with an emphasis on Christian formation and the promotion of a positive work and social life. Today, the Oratorio provides a safe place for the youth, most of whom who have been marked by poverty and marginalization, and every week gives over a thousand young people a chance to achieve their dreams.

A specific program within the Oratorio of Don Bosco is Mano a Mano. It is within this program that I have decided to focus my concentration and servcie. Hand in Hand with Don Bosco, is a center within the network Local Boys and Girls with Don Bosco, which seeks to rescue children and adolescents who are at risk. A vast majority of the children in the program are undocumented, living in extreme poverty, unable to go to school and most often have been either abandoned, neglected and/ or abused by their parents. Through preventive system of Don Bosco, Mano a Mano fully promotes the rights and dignity of impoverished and marginalized children and adolescents in the Jarabacoa area through educational activities and services geared towards meeting the specific needs of each individual. The services we work to provide include
school support and monitoring, hygenine and basic life skills, legal process monitoring, work rooms, and counseling.

That, in a nut shell, has been the reality of what I have been trying to adjust to throughout the past two and a half weeks. Not only has it been a period of attempting to assimilate myself into a new job and trying to figure out where I can be of the most help, it has all been in addition to adapting to the major cultural difference, while struggling with the non-stop hurdling over language barriers...Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely NOT complaining. For the most part I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to spend nearly seven months here. However, I am astounded by how I seem to continuously find myself in awkward, hilarious, and often unbelievable situations that result when adjusting to a life in a different kind of reality. And don't worry, in my next update, you'll be able to laugh at my expense when I share some of my predicaments. 

Again, a HUGE thank you to all who have made my service here possible!


1 comment:

  1. It sounds amazing Anni! What a great experience . I am so happy that you are able to be there. You have been given a true and beautiful gift. Your energy for helping others and making a positive difference mirrors your innerself. I can imagine the difficulty in communication because of the language barrier. But as beautiful as language is, it can be a hindrance as well. After all, spoken language is merely an attempt to decode and present our feelings. With the language barrier, you have to rely on your intuition and "feel" what the other person is experiencing. This can be an amazing and rewarding experience that many of us do not take the time to recognize in our daily lives. You are lucky because as you learn the spoken language, you have no choice but to rely on raw human emotion. It's like a blind person who's other senses are heightened. In this way I feel that we can often do more for an individual, as each word in the human vocal language has a different meaning for each of us. Katie and I are really proud of you. The world needs more of you! We miss you so much! Peace, love, and unity!