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Orphanage Outreach
an article by Erin Betz

While making plans for Spring Break, I heard about Orphanage Outreach, an organization that plans trips for college students to the Dominican Republic. I had the daunting task of raising over $1000 for expenses but I managed to raise the money by writing letters to family and friends. In March I spent a week working with children in an orphanage in Esperanza, teaching English in a public school and hanging out with the orphanage kids. It was a challenge to come up with lesson plans to teach 30 fourth graders things like colors and numbers in English. Not only did we have to plan activities to keep them interested, but we had the language barrier to contend with as well.

It wasn't until I walked Luzdealva home one day and met her brothers and sisters that I really understood what I was doing there. They were thrilled when I quizzed them on the colors in English, and they taught me a Spanish clapping rhyme. It was then that I realized that I would learn just as much from them as they would from me.

My Spanish got better and it was exhilarating to work with other college students who were willing to sacrifice their spring break. It was frustrating that the orphanage had so few material resources. We took cold showers all week and the electricity was functioning about 30 percent of the time. It was an incredible week, nonetheless, and I wanted to stay longer. The most valuable part of my experience was being immersed in another culture and having the opportunity to work with children, and I hope that some day I can go back to Esperanza.

Orphanage Outreach was an amazing experience that I'll never forget. To find out more about the program, visit the Orphanage Outreach website.


Question(s) related to this article:

Does charity reinforce the status quo, Or can it positively impact recipients in a more lasting way?

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Latest reader comment:

I just re-read the article about Joseph Wresinski after coming back from a demonstration of "Occupy New Haven," one of the hundreds of initiatives associated with "Occupy Wall Street."  The message of both is clear.  Charity is no solution to our problems today.  What is needed is solidarity and indignation!  Charity has enabled the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.  Solidarity and indignation can lead us to a new world of social justice!  We are coming into "interesting times!"

This report was posted on April 19, 2002.