Aldeas De Paz - Peace Villages Foundation
Fundacion Aldeas De Paz - Peace Villages Foundation NGO Management program in the Dominican Republic is a perfect for those wanting to learn more about how a small grassroots...
Enhance and improve the lives of children and sign up for your favorite activity! We empower young people by assisting them to develop their potentials and enhance the quality...
Help promote children's rights or ecological tourism in the Dominican Republic through a volunteering program offered by Fundacion Aldeas De Paz - Peace Villages Foundation....
Fundacion Aldeas De Paz - Peace Villages Foundation offers volunteering opportunities in the field of Medicine and Healthcare in the Dominican Republic. This medical observation...
Gain practical experience at a dental clinic, and kick-start your career as a densit. Program participants may be assigned to a dental clinic at a local hospital. They will...
Aldeas de Paz is offering Hospitality and Tourism internship opportunities in the Dominican Republic. The placements are ideal for individuals who are interested in exotic...
Being busy with my volunteer position helped me feel at home fast
Submitted by Moriah - Santo Domingo | June 26, 2016
Before coming to the Dominican Republic I was very nervous. I was worried how life would be here and what kind of conditions I would find. I was scared for my safety and thought there would be danger everywhere. What I found was the opposite of every preconceived notion I had in my mind.
Manfred made everything really easy for me when I arrived. I knew Marcos would pick me up at the airport, and I would not have to worry about the language barrier because he speaks English and he would buy my bus ticket. Arriving is Samana was so easy for me. This helped put me at ease even before I arrived in the country.
Initially, when I booked my placement, I booked a private apartment. I am so glad that I did not end up staying there. I ended up living in the cooperative living apartment and I loved it. Being with two girls from two different countries was so much fun and made living here an amazing time! I never felt any culture shock. I quickly became comfortable with my living situation and the culture because of this. Having other people to do everything with makes adjusting much easier. We also did things on our own and that was ok too. There was mutual respect between everyone.
Another important aspect is diving right into the culture. Immediately I went to the beach, ate the food, explored the town, this made me feel more comfortable with my environment. Another easy way to adjust is practicing Spanish, even if you are not fluent. While we do have Spanish classes, the best way to practice Spanish is talking with people. Soon people began to recognize me around town and would speak to me. Everyone was quite friendly and patient. They are interested in you just as you are interested in them!
Being busy with my volunteer position helped me feel at home fast as well. Being NGO management I was included in many activities with Manfred. I was able to visit a prison with a doctor hoping to start a clinic, go to a cooperative producing coconut oil, attend meetings with different local residents, and have a better understanding of the running of an NGO. By having these different experiences, I kept busy and was able to see a more intimate look into a culture I knew very little about.
Overall, I was impressed with the amount of programs the organization offers. I think it is wonderful that you can become involved in any area you choose, either to apply your skills or gain more. I hope Manfred continues to expand the programs. I think this is a great opportunity for an individual, a group or friends, or even a family to come experience the culture, a beautiful country, and do some hands on work that will benefit a community that deserves it! No matter what age, or from what country you come, you will have an amazing experience here.
The multimedia work I did here was very enjoyable
Submitted by Kevin Murton - Santo Domingo | April 20, 2016
My name is Kevin Murton and I have just finished my 7 weeks in Samana, Dominican Republic, volunteering for Aldeas de Paz helping with the Multi Media output.
As everyone would be, I was a little nervous about how the experience would turn out for various reasons, particularly in relation to my age and lack of intermediate Spanish ability.
I quickly realised I didn't have to worry on either account.
Although I was encouraged to speak Spanish whenever I could, particularly in the Spanish lessons, I felt comfortable at all times that my English would get me by, and that was the common language we generally used in any meetings I was involved in.
In relation to my age, genuinely I felt no difference in my relationships with the volunteers as the younger ones did with each other. Having a young open mind and respect for each other was plenty for everyone to generally get along.
I offered my unique set of skills, capabilities and energies and others did the same. I suppose you kind of adopt a role within a temporary family setting, which obviously changes as people come and go.
So when I initially arrived, I had an amazing welcome from Manfred and the rest of the volunteers. I made sure I had no expectations as to the place I was coming to and made myself aware of the fact that cultural differences would be inevitable. A mindful, moment-to-moment approach, without too much judgement, helped me through those initial few days.
Bit-by-bit I felt more and more comfortable with any security concerns I may have had. A healthy awareness of what was going on around me, like I do in London, and common sense decisions became part of my everyday living. It feels very safe here.
Getting used to the heat, changes in diet and the variety of nature that you see (from experience a clean room and a spray every month of insect repellant deters anything that may want to come inside), can all be viewed positively, and some may not be concerned with these changes at all, but if you are, taking the initiative to find the best way you want to deal with these issues quickly is a good idea.
Eating the Plata del Dia or buying vegetables at the local market or the colmardos near to the apartments can make food here quite cheap, but be aware of buying too much at the 'gringo' supermecado. Food can be very expensive here and a lot of it doesn't have the price on it.
It may take a while for the local gift shops to realise that you aren't a tourist, so you will be an amigo/a to all of them. It's a good way to practice your Spanish if nothing else.
The Multi Media work I did here was very enjoyable and working at the school, the hospital, at the Ayuntamiento, interviewing the Mayor. It feels very rewarding having produced film that can only show Aldeas de Paz in a positive light and perhaps create opportunities for future grants.
There is some amazingly beautiful scenery here on the Samana peninsula to explore. Whale watching during February and March, El Salto de Limon (waterfall), the amazingly beautiful Playa de Cayo Levantado and Los Haitises are some, but every so often you catch the beauty shown by the people; typically on the beach, with Bachata music playing as couples dance, as others play table games and still others lay back in the sun with a Carribbean kissed cocktail ready to sip, wrapped in not much more than the hot breeze drifting off the gentility of the ocean.
I have experienced a few of these kinds of cultural immersion trips now and felt genuinely emotional about leaving a group of people, whose heart tells them they want help a society, which at the moment is not able to give the same chances as most of us have back in our own countries.
Manfred is a great man and I have a lot of respect for him. He makes a lot of effort to help make your experience a useful and happy one. I came here to have an adventure, learn more Spanish and help a very worthwhile charity. I leave feeling like a better person, with what I have accomplished. Thanks Manfred, I have had an amazing experience, which will stay in my memories for a very long time to come. I hope our paths meet again in the not too distant future! Bye I'm off to Costa Rica.
It turned out to be exactly what I was pursuing, I was right at the center of the organization
Submitted by Tim Rache - Santo Domingo | April 20, 2016
Hi, I’m Tim from Germany. In order to gain practical experience in the field of Management I started considering different options globally and decided to go for NGO-Management with Aldeas de Paz in the Dominican Republic. Within my studies at university I was already able to gain useful theoretical experience which I wanted to put into active use.
And let me just say this, it turned out to be exactly what I was pursuing, I was right at the center of the organization and could experience the restructuring of the organization first hand. As most of you probably already read, the organization had to move from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic in early 2015, and building up all the structures proves to be a long progress. Many things are already done and set up, specifically the school and housing structure, but other parts need further improvement.
Working within the Administration means working with human resources, financials, school and program administration and generally everything regarding the organization. Right from the very beginning there was a need to structure every single day, but I soon got into it and after a few days of work I looked forward to every new day and the new challenges.
Apart from the work, there was also more than enough time to plan trips around the peninsula of Samana for the weekends and other fun activities in or near the City of Santa Barbara de Samana, which could be done after work during the week. It is surely amazing, how many different things you can explore right where you live, right where you feel like you know every corner after living there for a week. This is something, that I can recommend everyone to do, no matter where you are, there is not always a need to travel far away.
But back to the work experience: as I’ve said, I was part of the NGO-Management program, so I’ve surely had another point of view on the programs. But from organizing and overviewing the different programs and the volunteers working in it, I can already tell that there is so much to do and every single person can have such an impact within the community. It is amazing to see, how a person new to a country, a culture or maybe even the language can be integrated, the general spirit of this peninsula and the country overall is to welcome everyone and work together – always tranquilo, but steadily – on developing and executing the ideas for the different programs. Plus, they are always open for new programs, but be prepared for a nice bit of discussion, that is something that most people are very good at! But then again, this just boosts your language skills furthermore, learning by doing just is the best way to learn!
In general I can recommend everyone that’s interested to go volunteering and for sure, Aldeas de Paz was exactly the right choice to learn about the management of a small grass-root NGO trying to find its path in new territory. If you are specifically looking for a small NGO, that focusses on bringing one particular community forward, this is the place to go to. If you are looking to experience volunteering first hand, but want to be in a safe environment to learn how it works, this is the place to go. And if you have the chance, stay longer than the one month that I was only able to stay there, because I’ve just been getting started when I had to leave. If you are willing to dive into a different culture with all the misunderstandings and different work ethics, you will find a place, where every bit of work that you do is highly appreciated, as every single step is a step forward!
Now go and see it yourself and join us in our mission to make this world a little better day by day!
meine Zeit in Samana sehr gut gefallen und mir eine neue Sichtweise auf meinen weiteren Weg gegeben
Submitted by Henrik Siemen - Samana | March 14, 2016
Ich bin 20 Jahre alt und komme aus Hattstedt, Schleswig-Holstein in Deutschland. Nach meinem Abiturabschluss wollte ich gerne mehr von der Welt sehen und mein Spansich verbessern. Außerdem war ich mir mit meinen Zukunftsplänen noch nicht sicher, interessierte mich aber für ein Lehramts Studium. Das Angebot einer Freiwilligenarbeit in einem Land das weit entfernt von mir ist, kam mir also sehr gelegen. Durch die tolle und schnelle Vermittlung von „StudentsGoAbroad“ und „Fundacion Aldeas de Paz“ kam ich in den Kontakt mit Manfred Mönnighoff, der mir ausführlich ,freundlich und schnell die Informationen über das Projekt und notwendige Dinge gab, die ich in der Dominikanischen Republik brauchen werde.
Für meinem neunwöchigen Aufenthalt wählte ich ein Schulprogramm für Kinder mit besonderen Bedürfnissen und unterrichtete Englisch für Schüler aller Altersklassen. Das Projekt war anfangs schwer für mich, weil mir die Verständigung und Übersetzung in Spanisch schwer fiel, man sich an die neue Umgebung gewöhnen musste und die Kultur einfach sehr anderes war. Bei meiner Arbeit mit den Kindern bereitete ich mich mit den anderen Lehrern auf den Unterricht vor oder wir dekorierten die Schule die zu der noch nicht sehr Lebhaft aussah. Der Englischunterricht war für mich interessanter ,als die Arbeit mit den Kindern, weil ich selber die Sprache lernte, obwohl es anfangs sehr grundlegend war. Jedoch gefiel mir das Unterrichten von Woche zu Woche besser und ich hatte nicht nur tolle Lebenserfahrungen in der Schule, sondern auch beim Zusammenleben mit den anderen Freiwilligen und Freizeitaktivitäten mit den Einheimischen gesammelt. Dadurch, dass ich als Freiwilliger mich selber und das Projekt mit organisiert habe, lernte ich fiel über eigenständiges Arbeiten und den Umgang mit anderen Menschen.
Mir hat es einerseits gut gefallen das Projekt aufzubauen und mich zu engagieren, andererseits ist es manchmal unorganisiert gewesen, was aber an ungeschulten Personal und der unzuverlässigen Gesellschaft lag. Neben meinem Projekt habe ich gerne auf der Straße Basketball gespielt oder bin ins Fitnessstudio gegangen. Außerdem habe ich mit den anderen Freiwilligen an einem Projekt für die Wiederverwertung, Organisation und Einführung von Mülltonnen gearbeitet, die für Santa Barbara de Samana notwendig sind. Da das Projekt der Müllverwertung ein langer Prozess ist hoffe ich das die kommenden Freiwilligen es weiter führen können.
Im großen und ganzen hat mir meine Zeit in Samana sehr gut gefallen und mir eine neue Sichtweise auf meinen weiteren Weg gegeben. Nach meinem Aufenthalt in der Dominikanischen Republik nutze ich die Zeit um durch Mittel und Südamerika zu reisen.
My passion in the Dominican Republic was medical volunteering
Submitted by Maxwell Summerlin - University of Maryland | March 14, 2016
Three months ago, I decided it was time to leave home and experience the rest of the world, but the question then became, where do I go? My original thought was to go to a country in Africa, but after talking with my family about this possibility, the idea would be shot down for two reasons. First, it costs a lot of money to go to Africa. Second, the culture shock may have been too much for me to manage, as I’ve never travelled alone before. My next thought was to travel to Central America; it’s close to home, and relatively affordable. The next step would be to find an organization in Central America that is not only reputable and safe, but also where my actions would have a positive impact on the people in the community. After quite a bit of online researching, I came to the conclusion that I would head to the Dominican Republic and volunteer with Aldeas de Paz (ADP). What really solidified my decision to volunteer with ADP was their belief that “learning through service prepares our volunteers to be role models for change worldwide.” Knowing that my heart and this volunteer organization were both in the same state of mind allowed me to feel comfortable making the decision to leave home.
After two months of awaiting my departure date, the time had come, and I was headed to the airport. Prior to beginning this trip, I told myself that throughout this journey I would make sure to never have expectations. The reason behind this logic is my belief that without expectations, you enable yourself to adapt to the culture far more easily. With this in mind, I said goodbye to my family, pulled my luggage out of the trunk, and headed to my flight, but while boarding the plane to Samana, flashes of doubt began to surface and a nervous feeling began to grab hold of me. My mind raced as I thought about how I was about to leave my family for an entire month and spend it in a country I’ve never been to before. Even more terrifying was the fact that I knew very little Spanish, and had no clue what the culture would be like in Santa Barbara de Samana, the town I’d be volunteering in. Nonetheless, I kept my composure, cleared the negative thoughts, and carried on. After two plane rides, a taxi to a bus stop, and a 3 hour long bus ride, I would arrive in Samana. Shortly after arriving, I would be picked up by the director of the organization, Manfred, and driven to my new home. After dropping off my bags and meeting my new housemates, Henrik and Christian, they would take me to the Malecon to get pizza, as well teach me about the town and culture. The key point, or should I say word, they stressed throughout our dinner conversation was “Tranquillo”, meaning tranquil. This word is not only the normal greeting between men in the Dominican, but also describes the lifestyle of the people. They stated that everything here moves tranquilly, which in Dominican terms meant that everything moved at an incredibly slow pace. This slow lifestyle would prove to be my greatest challenge.
During the first days in the program, I created a schedule with many activities I wanted to do throughout the week. While the amount of activities planned may have been normal in USA time, it was completely unrealistic in Dominican time. It wasn’t that I couldn’t move fast enough to get to each activity, it was that each event involved the local people, who were living the tranquillo lifestyle. This first week would be my learning week, not just about the pace of the town, but other cultural aspects as well. Much different than the US, here there are very few people that drive a car, instead everybody drives motorbikes. While the motorbike aspect seemed sound, the part that seemed strange to me was the fact that nobody wore a helmet. After some research, I found out that the single greatest cause of death in Samana is motorbike accidents. Another part of this culture that is completely different than the United States is the friendliness of the entire town. Everybody here greets me with “Hola!”, and nobody ever seems mad or upset. The inhabitants of this village always seem to be happy. With the average salary here of $120 a month, it just goes to show that money does not buy happiness. Without the friendliness of the people, I don’t think I would have been able to adjust to the slow pace of the village. While the culture in Samana may have surprised me at times, the one thing I knew would have a familiar feeling to home would be practicing medicine.
In the United States, I work as a scribe in the Emergency Department of my local hospital, and love the environment associated with the fast paced work. I actually enjoy it to such a great length that Emergency medicine is something I am really considering pursuing once accepted into medical school. With that in mind, it was quite easy to select the program within Aldeas de Paz that I wanted to volunteer with; the medical volunteering program. I figured that this would allow me to be able to keep the fast paced lifestyle I had at home; I was mistaken. I would volunteer at the “Dr. Leopold Pou Hospital” in the heart of Santa Barbara de Samana, where the Tranquillo lifestyle had taken a firm hold, and medicine moved at a pace that reminded me of the blobs of wax rising and falling in a lava lamp. While not as fast paced as the US, medicine in the DR was still quite amazing to say the least. To compensate for their lack of modern medical technologies, they used their fingers and eyes as medical machines that could locate medical problems with each patient. Also different than the United States, here patient medical history is a huge component of the doctors’ medical decisions. Since many inhabitants of Samana are very poor, they cannot afford x-rays or ultrasounds, or even proper labs for that matter. For this reason, a patient’s history is crucial to the doctor’s decision to prescribe certain medications or have the patient carry out certain orders. While observing the Dominican patient-doctor interaction was an incredible experience in itself, the most extraordinary part of my medical volunteering experience was helping the American Medical Mission Group who came to Samana to give free medical care to the community. For one week, they provided free surgeries and free consultations for children and adults; during this week my encyclopedia of medical knowledge would grow far beyond what I had ever imagined. Throughout each day, I was able to watch and scrub into various surgeries such as Hysterectomies or cyst removals, as well as help examine patients in the pediatric consultation center. At the end of the week, we must have had seen every single inhabitant of the town. I’m extremely fortunate that this group had come down to help the people of Samana, for they further confirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine.
In addition to the medical aspect of this volunteering experience, I also got to help with something I never would have thought was so rewarding; construction. In the earlier weeks of my stay in Samana, the hospital was still being built, therefore most of the work in my first days here involved assisting the construction workers in the building of the hospital. This was quite possibly one of the most meaningful jobs of the entire trip, as my life goal is to build a hospital in a community in the United States which lacks adequate medical care. After hours of volunteering, I began to realize the extraordinary amount of time, effort, employees, and patience it takes to build a hospital. Throughout the construction, the director of the hospital would show me newly finished areas of the hospital, and with an almost childish like gleefulness in her smile, tell me how happy she was to see her hospital transforming into a beacon of hope for the entire community. After the construction was complete, the president of the Dominican Republic held a massive induction ceremony, and thanked Flor, the director, for all of her efforts. He was so proud of her and the entire staff for working tirelessly in their pursuit to make Santa Barbara de Samana a great place.
Not only did I get to help with the construction aspect of the hospital, shadow Dominican physicians, and assist and shadow the American Medical Mission Group, but I also got to help create a patient record documentation system for the hospital. Previously, the hospital lacked any organization involving patient records. There was one single room filled from top to bottom with folders of patient’s records that were mostly covered in cobwebs and dust. My job throughout the process was to help create a computerized patient record, so that if a patient returned to the hospital, all we had to do was enter in their name or social security number and we would have all the information of the patient at our finger tips. While this seems quite standard in the United States, this concept was brand new to the DR. With over 30,000 patient records, I did not get to finish entering in all of the data, but I’m sure that this will be completed soon, which will allow them to be one step closer to a paperless future and a greener hospital.
While my passion in the Dominican was medical volunteering, I also found it quite joyful to assist the other volunteers in teaching at the Mama Elba School for special needs children. Although the school was founded to help special needs children, some of the students had other medical conditions, and were considered outcasts to society. Unfortunately, some these kids were not attending the regular community school because other children may pick on them, or simply because they cannot be taught in a similar manner as most other kids. Fortunately, at the Mama Elba School, we are more than happy to assist these children, and strive to make them want to learn. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon, I would go to the school and assist Henrik and Christian in teaching lessons about the environment, Dominican Republic Independence Day, as well as other various topics. You could tell from the joy on the children’s faces that they were incredibly happy to be here. This school provided them with time to be free and creative, as well as to laugh and learn and play. One student in particular, Yanet, was very interested in learning math, but because she was deaf it was difficult for her to understand the lessons taught in school. I decided that if her school doesn’t want to take the time to teach her, then I will. After a few quality hours, she was an addition and subtraction master. She was incredibly happy to be solving all of the problems she once struggled with, but I was even more overjoyed for two reasons. First, I was happy to see Yanet was smiling as she was completing math problems, second, I had just taught a little girl a skill that she will use for the rest of her life. Helping people like Yanet is the reason I choose to volunteer. The whole experience provides me with a priceless joy that is unlike any other feeling.
Although I may have come to the Dominican Republic to learn more about Central America and how medicine is practiced, my time here has also given me the opportunity to learn more about myself. One of the most important things the Dominican has allowed me to discover about myself is what drives my happiness. In the States, it was becoming difficult to decipher what made me happy. After being away from Maryland for some time, I realized my happiness stems from my family and friends, as well as my work and research. Through the Tranquillo culture, I also came to realize that I had little patience. Everything at home was a rush and each day had to follow a plan; it seems as if often times I would not get to fully enjoy one activity because I was in a hurry to get to the next. Fortunately, my time here allowed me to recognize that not everything in life is a race. Sometimes in life, you need to take the backseat and watch events unfold, rather than always try and run into the storm. As I leave Samana, I hope to carry these lessons, as well as all the memories, with me as I grow into adulthood. One day, I will return to Samana, but this time as a changed man because of the teachings in happiness, medicine, and life Samana has taught me.