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Dominican Dreams

I dream of returning to the village of Las Charcas in the Dominican Republic in ten years to see a cluster of ten families living in ten homes built by members of the Deerfield community during ten successive spring breaks.

Passing through the solid doorways of the cinderblock houses, I turn on the lights to illuminate the names of Deerfield builders from the classes of 2009-2012 on the beam above the living room and kitchen.

Young Dominican adults who were the children struggling under the weight of buckets of mezcla during our first build have now graduated from high school. Those who were young adults in March of 2009 are moving into leadership roles in the community, inspired by the power of the community action that they have observed and been involved in for the last ten years. The community leaders in 2009 are moving into the role of village elders, proud of the improvements they have seen in their community over the past decade, including a thriving pre-school program and a busy health clinic.

Jose Abreu, the founder of Cambiando Vidas, is ageless, still starting water fights or leaping off the back of the moving team pick-up truck to tease, cajole, or pay his respects to various members of the community. He sprints back to the truck, leaping, spinning mid-air and landing backwards on his seat at the back of the truck.

Tired, hot, dirty and extremely proud, the Deerfield builders take one last long look at their newly-minted house as the truck rumbles back to San Juan.

Sheryl Cabral is head of the Math Department and has participated in three Cambiando Vidas projects.

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