by Julie Philpott
I will be honest, prior to my trip to the Dominican Republic, I would picture it as an island of white sandy beaches and blue ocean seascapes for miles. My husband and I were excited to have these pictures in my head materialize, but also to see the real people and places of the island. We went with two friends who are closely involved with Water@Work Ministries and have been working alongside the people in the D.R. for over 15 years. I was able to see the water treatment plants and the great people who live in these communities. The island is a mixture of beautiful vistas, dry desert, lush plant life and bustling cities, but also areas with very poor living conditions. Most of the island is dependent on bottled water even in the bigger cities.
We had the chance to travel around the southern side of the island to see how Water@Work Ministry is making a difference. We visited areas that have prospered due to the water plant in their community, and we encouraged the dedicated staff that operate the plants and who sell the water to the areas around them. We met the staff that test the systems, test the water quality, and help these communities with business and leadership skills training. We met the happy, healthy children in a community that have had clean water for several years and enjoyed hearing their songs about Jesus.
If I can convey anything to you – I would say “God is at work in the D.R. and good things are happening there on a daily basis.” Our fundraising efforts in the U.S. and our prayers are allowing the people to change their circumstances. It truly was an eye opening and amazing trip and I am so very thankful to have had the opportunity to learn more about the island and the people.
My favorite moment was visiting a Casa de luz (House of Light), an orphanage for disabled children. The 47+ children are loved and encouraged and cared for by an incredible staff. They have so many expenses in operating a care facility of this type. They currently have a water treatment plant to supply clean water for the facility to use as drinking water, but the capacity of the older system is not able to keep up with the demand of the growing care home. All around the property we saw new buildings being erected to provide housing in suburban type sprawl. All of these new residents to the area will need to buy bottled water. Casa de luz understands that with an upgraded water treatment plant on their property, THEY can be that source of water. The facility will provide what the orphanage needs for bathing and drinking and with the sale of water bottles they can also obtain many of the funds needed to operate their orphanage. I want to be a part of making this become a reality for them. It inspires me to help them reach that goal.
* Julie and her husband Jim have been donors to Water@Work since 2019. Julie now serves on the Board of Directors and plays a key role in event planning.