Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stretching--by Suzanne

As a first time international travler and having my first abroad trip being a destination such as the Dominican Republic has been a difficult and powerful experience. While we are here to do monitoring and evaluation for Stop Hunger Now there is much more that has transpired within all of us who are here. Besides the trash that is literally every where and the rundown buildings there are people here who have hope in their eyes and warmth in their hearts. Children reach for our hands to hold and adults smile shyly as we explain through a translator that we are here because we want to hear their stories. We want to know how the Stop Hunger Now meals are transforming their lives, what the would change about the meals if they could, and ask open-ended questions to allow them the opportunity to share their thoughts in their own words so we may take this back to the U.S. to allow our communities and neighbors to listen to the experiences and realities of these people. 

Through this experience thus far I have had a range of emotions and I deeply want to experience them all and allow myself to grow from this as a mother, woman, and American. It is one thing to see commericals of children in developing countries who live in poverty and do not know where their next meal will come from. It is an entirely different experience to arrive in a community located next to the dump where children are running barefoot with trash they have collected from "scuba diving" in the trash. Seeing the school in this community where some teachers are not even being paid for their coming to work five days a week, some coming from distant cities having to travel up to and hour or more one direction. These are the faces the Americans need to see in person. Their faces and stories are worthy of being seen and heard. Their stories have saddened me but more than that these people have welcomed me into their homes and they want Americans to know exactly how this Stop Hunger Now meals have helped improve their health, some who were literally on the brink of death, and how the food makes them have energy and feel strong. 

I have experiences so much through this experience so far and I am not sure how to process all of it. I do know that I am better for having come. I cannot unhear their stories or unsee their faces, and I don't want to. We share this world and we are all in this together. 

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