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Read and Learn about Haiti

15 Aug

Root causes of Haiti’s problems (NPR):

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/11/1014967337/the-historical-political-and-social-conditions-that-led-haiti-to-turbulence

The relationship between Haiti and US histories (New York Times guest column):

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/opinion/haiti-us-history.html

Days 3, 4, and 5 – Campamento 2021 was a success

1 Aug

The Sisters, the Aspirants (young women who are considered pre-candidates to becoming a nun), the Hogar alumna, and community members came together to have an enjoyable camp for all – including us watching from here!

The last three days were: excursion to Santo Domingo, a regular camp day, and then an excursion to Pueblo Viejo (“Old Town”) and a party.

Thank you all who’ve supported Campamento!!

Peace,

Ann

Day 3 Santo Domingo

National Botanical Garden

Day 4

No pictures – Woman at the Well

Day 5 Pueblo Viejo

The town that is now known as Pueblo Viejo was the place where in 1504 Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the conqueror of Cuba, founded the colonial town of Azua de Compostela. It was named in honour of one of the first Spanish settlers in the area, Don Pedro Gallego, a native of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain. The first part of the name is derived from the local Native American name for the area. The old colonial city was destroyed by an earthquake on October the 16th 1751. The settlers of the area moved further North, near the River Road, and established a new town in that area.

Wikipedia

We visited Pueblo Viejo many years ago and it is fascinating to contemplate the more than 500 years of this settlement. BTW the settlers moved north to found Azua after the earthquake.

First – a stop at Bon for ice cream

Final Party

Day 2 – Traditions Continue

28 Jul

Here are pictures from today. What did you do today? The Widow of Nain was the Woman of Faith today. Visitors came to do an activity. The girls did a variety of art as well. Another fun day!

Reflection Time
Reflections
Community youth came to lead an activity
Widow of Nain video
Picture of Mother Teresa Toda – one of the founders of the Carmelites of San Jose Order
Girl coloring
Girl with Painting
Group drawing Mother Teresa Toda with a community member
Girl with Tracing
Two girls tracing
Girls crafting with Sister
Group Picture
Girls making a presentation
Widow of Nain drama
Girls showing emotions two ways

We hope you enjoyed the pictures from today!

Campamento 2021 Day 1 – It’s on!

26 Jul

Campamento 2021 started today, Jul 26. Sister Sandra has at least three helpers. They are having a good time! Today’s women of faith are the 5 daughters of Zelophehad. This is a remarkable story where the women – with no brother – were going to lose their land and even the family name because they were women. Instead of accepting this injustice, they fought for their rights – an won! These women made quite an impression – very few women are mentioned in either the Old or New Testament and even fewer are named. Even though there were five of them, the Bible mentions each of them by name. It’s a reminder that each person is a member of God’s family – no exceptions.

These women not only caused a law to be changed for generations to come but modeled how to pursue change. They didn’t victimize themselves with despair and attempt to manipulate the situation. No, the daughters of Zelophehad were women of courage, faith, and honorable action.” Danielle Bernock

Some interesting reading if you want to learn more:

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/who-were-the-daughters-of-zelophehad.html

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-daughters-of-zelophehad-power-and-uniqueness/

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/daughters-of-zelophehad-bible

From a grateful heart springs…

From a grateful heart springs… love, happiness, solidarity, order, discipline, gratitude, peace, respect, and responsibility.

This has room for more! You can see the board for more women of faith, girls practicing the drama of the story, drawings of the story, and reflections.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I receive quite a few pictures like this. I don’t know who that woman or the other helpers are or what they’re doing at the table.

From this angle, you can see Teresa Toda is right in the mix!

Fun with Friends

This should give you an idea of how Campamento went on the first day. It looks like fun to me!

Thank you Sister Sandra for all these beautiful photos!

Campamento 2021 Update/Help Wanted

6 Jun

Update on Campamento 2021

You probably guessed by now that we are not traveling to Azua this year, either, but there will be camp the first week in August.

When Covid hit Dominican Republic, the schools were closed until November 1, pushing the end date to July 30. So, the girls will only have one month of summer break. Sister Sandra decided to have camp that first week, then send them home from 3 weeks.

The CDC and the Archdiocese both strongly urge us to not travel there this summer. Although people can go as individuals of course, we did not want to go against recommendations and risk anyones’ health.

Camp will go on, though! One of the Sisters at the Hogar also teaches Bible study to a group of young women in the community. They will lead camp.

How we can help:

  • The first thing is to email lesson plans to the Sisters so they have a jump start. I thought it would make sense for the group of young people to come up with crafts and shop for them based on their interests, etc.
  • Send a donation to help offset their campamento costs and help them buy new shoes and uniforms.

Rejected ideas were:

  • Find a theme song, given the leaders, I think the theme song should be in Spanish. And, given that they are younger and will know better then us, they can choose that.
  • I thought it would make sense for the group of young people to come up with crafts and shop for them based on their interests, etc.

So, the ask is for two roles – I’m hoping for a team consisting of one each.

  • Take ~1-2 hours to research one of the women (there are 4 total). I have some more specific ideas and an example. So, please contact me if you’re willing to do this.
  • Translate what the researcher found. You’d work together to get the translation correct.

Please contact me if you’re interested. I’m hoping to get something together over the next two weeks-by June 20.

Thank you!

Ann

Preparing for the Trip

1 Mar

At this point in our planning process, we are thinking about preparing ourselves for travel. Here are some ideas on what you can do now. Don’t forget to pick up some Spanish as mentioned in earlier posts!

Preparation

Buy the ticket, take the ride. – Hunter S. Thompson

Be prepared. – Boy Scouts’ Motto

Physical

See the travel clinic for recommended vaccinations and medications. Be sure you are “up to date” on Hepatitis and Tetanus shots. You may be advised to take an anti-malaria treatment and more.

We require Travel Insurance for each traveler. Research and possibly purchase travel insurance (interruption, medical or emergency may be applicable). Some websites from a recent Star Tribune Travel section article include www.g1g.com (browse a selection of policies, from medical and trip insurance protection plans for individuals, to group insurance), www.insuremytrip.com (offers more than 100 plans from 18 insurance providers, but also publishes useful trips about travel safety) www.squaremouth.com (offers online applications that help travelers “easily and instantly” compare all the major travel insurance plans) www.travelinsurancecenter.com (Offers Policy Picker, a tool that helps you compare travel insurance packages, and www.travelinsure.com (offers a variety of products from annual travel medical insurance to medical coverage for frequent trips).

2021 Travel considerations

  • Complete your COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 weeks before travel.
  • Understand your health risks this year.

Delta Airlines “Peace of Mind Purchasing” 

For Delta tickets purchased in 2021 (after the expiration of our Peace-of-Mind Purchasing waiver for all travel purchased through March 30, 2021), we’ve eliminated change fees and Award redeposit fees permanently for Delta tickets purchased for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world (excluding Basic Economy fares).

While there is no change fee for these tickets, the fare difference will apply.*

You also now have the flexibility to cancel or make changes to Award Tickets for travel within the U.S. any time prior to departure. Visit My Trips to make changes to your flight(s) any time before your travel date.

If you purchased a ticket or are traveling between March 1, 2020 and March 30, 2021, we are still waiving all change fees for customers – for both U.S. and international travel in all cabins.  Follow the “Existing Travel” or “Travel Purchased March 1, 2020 – March 30, 2021, Go to footer note” guidelines outlined above.

**For international tickets to the United States purchased on or before January 25, 2021 with departure dates between January 12 and February 16, 2021, the change fee or Award redeposit fee will be waived. You can rebook your trip to the same destination for travel departing before February 1, 2021 with no difference in fare appliedhowever, a difference in fare will apply for travel rebooked to commence on or after February 2, 2021. In all other instances (including without limitation any change to the origin or departure airports, cabin or product), applicable fare difference will apply.

The above Delta policies may make this insurance option “Cancel for Any Reason” unnecessary.

TRIP CANCELLATION FOR ANY REASON
This coverage is Optional and must be indicated as applicable on Your Schedule of Benefits.

If You are prevented from taking the Covered Trip for any reason not otherwise excluded, We will reimburse You or Your designated representative for 75% of the prepaid, forfeited, non-refundable Payments or Deposits for the Covered Trip arrangement(s), provided the following conditions are met:

(a) this coverage is purchased within 14 days of the date the initial Payment or Deposit is paid and You insure the cost of any subsequent arrangement(s) added to the same Covered Trip within 14 days of the date of Payment or Deposit for any such subsequent Covered Trip arrangement(s); and
(b) this insurance coverage is purchased for the full cost of all non-refundable prepaid Covered Trip arrangements; and
(c) You or Your designated representative cancels the Covered Trip no less than 2 days prior to the Scheduled Departure Date.

This coverage will be terminated, no benefits will be paid and any premium paid for this coverage will be refunded if the full costs of all prepaid, non-refundable Covered Trip arrangements are not insured.

Please note that if you are issued a credit for future travel by your travel supplier or tour operator, you are not eligible to make a claim under CFAR, as there is no financial loss. Please refer to your insurance policy (or Description of Coverage) for details.

Spiritual

Reflect on what you would like from the week. What gifts to you have to bring? How will you make the trip more enjoyable for the girls and the other travelers? Are you open to try new activities, new food, new language, new culture?

Legal

Make sure you have your passport and it is current. E-mail to your trip leader emergency contact information.

Cultural

Read fiction or non-fiction about the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean. Some suggestions include In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (also a movie on DVD with Salma Hayek), Travel books with historical summaries, Sugar (HBO movie available on Netflix. It’s more about DR baseball than the girls, but it’s all related.) and Caribbean by James Michener (book on CD available at Hennepin County libraries).

Take a look at a map of the country.

Do a news search on the web about the Dominican Republic to find out recent events/hot topics.

Learn some Spanish, at least the “Must Know Phrases” later in this booklet. Subscribe to Spanish Word of the Day at http://www.transparent.com/, Listen to “Coffee Break Spanish’ on your computer or iPod through iTunes or at http://www.radiolinguamedia.com/cbs/www/index.html, go to a Spanish Langauge Mass at Sagrado Corazon in Minneapolis or Assumption in Richfield, check out language books and audio programs at the library. Attend community ed classes.

Packing List

Packing list – you will get ½ of one large suitcase, the rest is for donations and supplies
Suggested daily wear: tank tops or t-shirts, shorts, khakis and jean shorts, sport shorts… think casual and breathable clothes, it’s gonna be hot down there! Dry-fit/fast drying sports clothes are ideal.

Casual sun dresses or skirt and nice top, skirt/dress below the knee and shoulder covered so you are    appropriate for Mass. They dress more conservatively for going to church. Plus, we are conspicuous visitors. Do be neat, conservative.
Swim suit and coverup
Sandals, flip flops or tennis shoes. (Note: flip flops have been causing trouble lately. Be sure to use them only when appropriate, within the hogar compound, and to the beach, no long walks or running! Consider Keens, toe-covering sandals that can be used for the whole trip. LL Bean and Land’s End have versions of them, too)
A hat to keep the sun off
Light weight PJ’s

Wristwatch and/or travel alarm clock

$200 (approx) $10 to enter the country, $40 or more to Sisters for food and expenses. For souvenirs and restaurants, have $1’s ready. Most will take it at a 31 to 34 Dominican Pesos to the US Dollar exchange rate, but won’t give change in USD of course. You can also use credit cards at some restaurants and shops.

Water Bottle – the best are the metal kinds. (Sigg are about $30, but I saw them at Old Navy for $7.50.)

PERSONAL TOILETRIES AND DRUGS
Bar of soap, I like presoaped, disposable face cloths for these trips, two per day.

Box/Small packets of Kleenex
Shampoo (put in a small plastic bottle if you can)
Toothpaste/ toothbrush (some bring more than one tooth brush)

Razor
Contact solution
Travel pack of baby fresh wipes

Deodorant
Sanitary protection
Non prescription pain reliever
Ear plugs
Imodium AD

Pepto
Benefiber (or no-water-required fiber pill)

Insect repellent 25% – 35% DEET not 100%

Premethrin

Steroid cream for insect bites
Sunscreen!!!!!
Sunburn lotion
Band-Aids and antiseptic salve (small first aid kit if you can)
Some also bring Clariton because although they don’t have allergies up here, some tend to get cold-like symptoms towards the end of the trip, probably because of the dust and wind.

If you tend to wilt easily in the heat, bring single-serving hydration powder packets, such as Powerade, to ward off dehydration.  Some also like Emergen-C packets to get an immune system boost to adjust to the new environment.

Notebook for personal reflections
Camera and plenty of film/ digital camera
2 color photocopies of your passport
Photos of your interests and family. The girls are always interested about our lives and so several travelers thought it was fun to show pictures of their families, friends, homes, and MN winter to the girls.  A picture is worth a thousand words, especially if you don’t know much Spanish.

Flashlight with extra batteries

Target/plastic grocery bags (bring at least 5)

Some should bring pump/hand soap to leave in the bathroom.

Fingernail clippers/emory board

Probiotic – research

Souvenir note: if you want coffee, a local roaster is friends with the Sisters. This will be your cheapest, freshest option. In the grocery store, local coffee was about $2/lb.

OTHER USEFUL ITEMS
Fanny pack or backpack for outings
Metal bottle or canteen for daily water

Travel alarm
Spanish speaking aids (Spanish/ English dictionary)
Mattress Pad, cloth, to be left there $12 at Target

Small battery powered fan, typically used for camping.

Premethrine

Peanut Butter

Airplane items

Your own snacks

Antiseptic/waterless hand cleaner in a 2 oz bottle

Donation List from Past Trips

This is a sample from past trips:

School  Backpacks

gym shoes (from Sizes kids’ 10 – adults 8 )

Underwear – Sleeveless Undershirts (small kids’ size 6 or 8), Panties, Socks

Girls’ Summer cloths, including light fabric pants and shirts, child sizes 6 to 12

Bathing Suits

Twin Sheet Sets

Towels

Children’s Multivitamins, not gummies

Vitamin C, not gummies

Advil Sinus or equivalent

Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin children’s and adults

“When meeting people from a foreign culture, offer a few gifts that reflect your interests as a gesture of friendship. Better yet, give things you’ve created yourself. Also, explore their interests and their culture. Ultimately, the best way to forge a lasting friendship is to create something together. Whether it’s a meal, an art project or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.” – International Diplomacy Guidebook, from the Blue Man Group

A Message from a Past Camper

28 Oct

This was a Facebook post from one of our very first “campers”. She gave me permission to share it here. She was always an excellent student. You can read her beautiful description of her childhood at the home,  Hogar Teresa Toda, our Sister Community in Azua, DR. She is now a wife and mother of two: daughter, 8 and son, 3. They are so cute! I thought this was so lovely, seeing how she appreciates the impact the Sisters have had on her life. One of the pictures is from that post and I added two more. Most of you know that their order is the Carmelites of Saint Joseph. They chose Saint Joseph because he took care of Jesus even though He was not his biological son. This is a straight Google translation, but I think you’ll understand it.

“Not only are they nuns or religious, they are women who know how to be mothers, teachers, and friends. They dedicate their lives to the foster and teaching of girls in need of attention, love, and thirsty to learn.

“I remember exactly my arrival to which would become my home for 11 years of my life and what a beautiful experience. It was always a kind of bubble, a safety dome, out there life became different, go from being cared for and fend for myself was the great challenge of my life😅. But I’ve always said it, every person who lived with me has been a lesson for life, because with them I knew the meaning of true friendship (Patricia, Natalia, Carolina). That to get along with my neighbors only have respect for each person around me. That I can learn from all, but also serve as a guide to the growth of another group. Creativity has no limits and with a pencil after a stroke more ideas emerge that can become art. That to be heard you do not need to scream. If you have firmness, that the money that makes me worthy is the only one I have right🙂. Always do things selflessly, even give love. I was taught to thank for everything, to do an analysis every night of my day, because that would help me improve my habits. I was given the privilege to study in two good schools, to value things and people, and taught me to believe in me.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

“Thank you for relieving my fever nights. Thank you for those camps we longed for every school year end. Thank you for being the guide of 30 girls of different ages. Thank you for teaching me how to cook, to iron, to sew on a button, to sew the hem of my pants. Thank you for teaching me how to embroider, knit, paint, sing, for allowing me to learn to enjoy life from the simplest. Thank you thank you. Blessings.”

Peace,

Ann

Updates from Azua, October 2020

5 Oct

Hola Amigas!

I hope you are staying healthy and well. Sister Fifi contacted me Friday on WhatsApp and I wanted to share with all of you the latest from the home.

It’s a lot. It is all in the same order she gave me.

Sister Dione died a little over two weeks ago. She had been sick; it wasn’t covid. Most recently she lived at El Carmelo and was very warm and huggy when we visited there, before heading to Azua. I’m not sure, but I believe she was also a school teacher. This picture doesn’t show it, but she had a big smile. We will miss her. 

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The girls have not left the property since March, about when we started quarantining. She said COVID is still bad there, not safe for the girls. But they girls are doing well, attending remote school.

And, Sister Fifi thanked us again for the donation earlier this summer. On that subject, I’m preparing to send money again. If you gave money to Saint Ed’s directed to the home since last camp (July 2019) please let me know when and how much. I’m aware of only one right now. I’m going to have those donations wired down if possible, if not we’ll send it now that we know it works.

The next news is that Sister Maira is very sick with COVID. Sister Maira usually greets us at El Carmelo. She’s like the CFO of the order in Dominican Republic. She’s usually very hale and healthy. I don’t know how she got it. They live pretty sequestered. But, as we know, it doesn’t take much. She’s still sick, but is getting better.

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The major news 😭😥😭 is that Sister Fifi was assigned to a new project – a spirituality center at El Carmelo in Santo Domingo. She will live at El Carmelo, so we will still see her, but she is giving up her position at the home. I was very surprised and at first sad to hear this. She is such a special person, uniquely suited to direct the home, but I think she’ll have a big impact in the capital, as well.

She thanked all of us for the years we’ve shared. She thanked us for caring about the girls. Your contributions of time, talent, and treasure (today was Stewardship Weekend at St. Ed’s) is very touching to her and all the Sisters. 
She said the older girls are especially sad. Here are some recent pics. She said she’s having a hard time leaving the girls, but she has to start this new mission. 

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She’s leaving this week. Imagine the tears! I told her it will be 1000 times worse than the last day of camp!! I hope we have camp next year and that she can come visit. Or at least see her at El Carmelo! 

She said that God has given us all so much. I agree!

To answer the next question – Sister Sandra is returning! For the last few years has been running the home for retired Sisters. You can imagine, a lot of the administration is the same, just (I imagine) at a slower pace. There are people to feed, employees, activities, etc. 
Here’s an older picture of Sister Sandra, when we were on a community visit. She loves children and babies. She founded Hogar Teresa Toda, the home, 25+ years ago.

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Here is my latest picture of her from 2018 with some travelers

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That’s it for the updates. Please, send any updates you’d like to share!
Peace,

Ann

Campamento Memories

6 Jul

Monday, July 8th – if the world was normal, today would be Day 1. It’s usually an overwhelming day. We’re still a little tired from travel. The heat goes from novelty to oppressive. The girls are primed for camp! Most of them have been there before, so they know the ropes.

Usually on day 1, our “Woman of Faith” is from the Old Testament, like Eve, Hagar, Rachel, Jochebed, Miriam, Naomi, and Ruth. Hardly anyone is named in the Old Testament, even fewer women, so each of these women are quite substantial and have a lot to teach us. One joy of camp for me personally has been learning insight on these women from Heidi Busse, a Biblical scholar. Thank you Heidi for helping me understand how these women speak to us thousands of year later after they lived on Earth.

Day 1 is often the time to cram Spanish. “They speak so fast.” “Their pronunciation is not what we heard in Jefferson High School Spanish class.” And occasionally “Wow, my college Spanish is coming back to me!” Between Duolingo, the Spanish Learning Club and my dorky attempts at practicing on patient Spanish speakers, I am getting better each year!

The most frequent observation from first-time travelers is that everyone – even the first-time travelers – are welcomed with open arms. It’s like visiting distant family. And it’s appropriate; we are Sister Communities. Our communities, not just the people who travel, are all connected over faith, time, and common values.

On joys and blessings… one for me is getting to know travelers in a way I don’t think I’d ever without sharing a trip like this. The Konkoly family is very special in so many ways. I met Jane and two of her daughters while rafting through the Grand Canyon. You know I can’t go very long without bring up Campamento. On that trip, I think I held back until about day 5. After telling Jane about it, she decided to join along with her daughters. She sees the potential in these girls and gives what she has to help them reach their dreams. Check out this video Jane and daughter Michelle made about last year’s camp. “Try Everything” by Shakira was the theme song in 2017.

Throw back to 2009

Some Girls at Campamento 2009

Travelers and volunteers – if you have a memory and/or a picture you’d like me to post, please send it to me over the next two weeks.

Please consider donating over these next two weeks as well. We are raising money for shoes and back-to-school supplies. Shoes are about $30 at Dominican Republic stores. PM me for details on how to do that.

Campamento 2020 – pictures and more

2 Jul

Our Campamento 2020 plan was to depart early Saturday, July 4th! Of course, that wasn’t possible, yet Campamento 2020 still happened! Continuing our last post – more pictures! I’m so proud of the older girls for taking charge and making camp happen – regardless of the obstacles 2020 throws us.

An experienced camper showing a new girl the ropes
Another new girl with two experienced campers
the beginning of a star
Star Craft
Decorating the Kiosko
Frogs!
Pucas!
Pucas!
Pucas
Coloring

If you made it this far, you’re a true Campamento Amiga or Amigo! The one thing we couldn’t do this year was bring our donations – especially those famous all-white tennis shoes – to the home. Well, I think we figured out a way to still get them new shoes.

The Sisters have a bank account with an American bank. It’s not registered as a non-profit so the donation is not tax-deductible. Yet, I think this is the most reliable way to donate to the home. So, during these two weeks we’d usually have camp, (July 4-19) I’m asking for donations for shoe money. They cost about $30 dollars a pair at Payless Shoes in the Dominican Republic. Any amount helps! If I did not already send you the instructions on how to donate, let me know and I’ll pass that along to you. My goal is $1,600, which would be enough for shoes plus extra for school supplies.

As an aside – the Sisters and girls have been literally quarantined on the property. Who knows if on-premise school will open for them in the fall? Here’s a site I check on periodically https://do.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/ to learn about COVID-19 in Dominican Republic.


Stay healthy! Peace,

Ann