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Lonza P.E.A.C.H. (People Extending a Caring Hand) Project

by Ann & Tim

We attended the Lonza North American Dealer Conference in the Dominican Republic in January.  The trip was sponsored by Lonza Pool Products and was a gift to us from Jeanne & Dennis.  You will know Lonza as the company that makes Baquacil, Baqua Spa, Poolife and many more of the pool and spa chemicals we sell.    While on the trip we were given the opportunity to participate in the P.E.A.C.H. (People Extending a Caring Hand) Project at the Escuela Basica Veron II school.  The school is located in the community of Cristinita in the Province of La Altagracio of Veron.  This school hosts up to 286 children ranging in age from 5 to 14 years of age in three classrooms that were approximately 15’ x20’ in size.  The grades taught are kindergarten to 8th grade and sessions are held morning and afternoon to accommodate as many children as possible.

When the volunteers arrived the school was in horrible condition. Only one of the bathrooms worked, sometimes, and the electricity was questionable most of the time.  The student desks were falling apart or broken and most desks had only a few inches of usable writing surface and the teachers’ desks were in no better condition.  The outside of the school had insufficient lighting and the playground was nothing more than a field of weeds that were a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Over a period of two days, approximately 80 volunteers worked together to completely re-do the inside and the outside of the school.  The inside of the school received a fresh coat of paint, along with new ceiling fans, lights and two new bathrooms with updated plumbing. The outside of the building also received a fresh coat of paint, new security lighting, a new playground area, trees, shrubs, flower boxes and picnic tables.  The children also received new student desks, new teacher’s desks, school supplies, backpacks and athletic wear.

Tim and I had the extreme pleasure of being able to work on the outside of the school and help with the new playground area.  Unlike the previous days’ volunteers we were able to work side by side with the students who would be attending the school.  After the assembly of the flower boxes, the children were able to help us plant plants, wheelbarrow ground, pick up rocks and water all of the plants & shrubs.  We were unable to communicate with most of the children, as the majority of the volunteers did not speak Spanish, but the universal sign language of a smile was worth a thousand words.  That and a “thumbs up” will always bring a smile and giggle from a small child!  There are not enough words to describe the happiness and joy the children experienced in being able to participate in the construction of their new playground.  Having the privilege to participate in this project allowed Tim and I to see first-hand just how fortunate we are in this country.  We, as Americans, take so much for granted and sometimes we just need to be given the chance to see the world outside our borders to appreciate what we have inside them.