Students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary school in Hamilton have recently participated in the D.R.E.A.M.S (Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support) program.

This Christian service program has been in place since 2000, and provides students with the experience of visiting the developing south.

St. Mary students have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and have built a school, residences, and homes in the villages in Ocoa. The labour provided by students has transformed communities, and helped young people realize that they do have the power to make a difference in the world.

Student Ainsley McCarles reflects on the trip below:

“When I offered to write a reflection I thought this would be easier than any assignment I have done for school. Little did I know that this would be an extremely difficult task; I didn’t know where to begin.

When I reflect on the trip, I think of the amazing people I met along my journey, amazing friends from my school that I grew closer to, and the tremendous work we did as a community to build a home for a Dominican family. With all of these memorable aspects on my trip, I didn’t realize what I would be leaving behind when I came home. We witnessed 5 generations of a family working to build a home for a community member.”

McCarles made a variety of memories that she will remember for a lifetime. Regardless of the language barrier, she made plenty of new friends with community members. She played with different children from around the community and went to schools in different towns, touring classrooms and recognizing the contrast between the schools. Each classroom was small, but full of life, energy, and eagerness to learn.

“Although the work was hard and long, it was rewarding. Luckily, thanks to our hardworking supervisors, we were able to accomplish a task I never thought would be possible. We became experts at mixing cement and passing buckets down a cement line. We learned the true meaning of team work, met new people on the job sites each day, along with consistently learning something new from each and every one of them. 

We left just about everything we brought with us in Dominican, but came home with our hearts filled with memories. Waking up to Ernestina’s morning song, everyone bursting into laughter as the cows woke us up each evening, Dino cookies enjoyed daily, celebration of mass on a mountain, and the Spanish music keeping us up all night will all be remembered for a lifetime.”

The St. Mary’s students want to extend a special thank you to their chaperones for dedicated a week away from their personal lives to ensure they had a safe trip.