*This was a sponsored trip provided by Fathom Travel. However, all opinions are my own.
As I settle back into my daily routine at home all I can do is think of this last week. When I first learned I would be able to participate in one of the first few trips to the Dominican thru Fathom Travel-I was a little skeptical. Many of my readers know about the terrible experience I had in Punta Cana in December. In fact, it was so bad that I said I’d never return to the DR. But then I learned about Fathom, it’s purpose, and I had this great desire to give this country another chance. And I am so glad I did.
The Adonia is unlike any other. It has all of the amenities of a typical cruise ship with the exception they have an incredible mission. A mission to give back to those in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It’s traveling with a purpose.
Upon arriving in Puerto Plata you have the opportunity to participate in what’s called an ‘Impact Activity’. These include volunteering in Chocal (a women’s co-op), planting trees, teaching English within the community, pouring cement floors for those that don’t have one, and making water filters. My son and I spent time with the lovely ladies at Chocal and worked with Entrena at a summer camp with 3rd-5th graders. I’ll share each of these stories with you in later posts as there’s far too much to say about these experiences in just one big blog post.
Before arriving in Puerto Plata, there are plenty of chances to gather in small training groups to brush up on your Spanish, to learn more about connecting to others, and to even learn how to tell your own personal story. I really enjoyed these classes and truly took something away from each one.
Each day you receive a newsletter called ‘SOUNDINGS’ and it is full of different activities to participate in throughout the day. There’s so much more than training workshops happening. From seminars in the spa to scavenger hunts, from dance classes to movie nights-there’s something going on at every moment of the day. I guess you could really say there’s never a dull moment.
The staff on The Adonia were incredible. I did not have any negative interactions with staff members and those that I spoke to absolutely love what they do. They are definitely cheerleaders for their cause.
The locals are noticing what Fathom is doing too. During a tour of Puerto Plata, a lovely woman in a shop approached me and asked if I was apart of the group in town helping the people in her community. I told her I was on the ship and shared with her more about what we were actually doing. She already knew. In fact, she brought me to tears as she said God wants us to open our hearts and help one another and that we (those on the ship) were doing just that. I later received this email from her which once again brought me to tears.
“Hola querida amiga
Te escribo estas líneas para saludarte y a la vez darte y darle las gracias a usted y a cada uno de los que están con usted.gracias por venir a mí país y Ayudar a mi gente.. Gracias por tomar su tiempo y venir ayudarnos, personas como ustedes es Las que Nesecita este mundo para sea mejor ..
This email proved to me that what Fathom is doing is important. That they aren’t just bringing people in who want to give themselves a pat on the back. They are truly making an impact on the ground. Let’s look at some of the numbers. Here is the cumulative impact at week #6. From April to June.
*More nutrient-rich soil
*Reduction in soil loss
*Improved localized air and local water
*Increase in localized biodiversity
*Higher agricultural yields
8,656 seedlings and plants
Travelers contribute toward greater productivity. They sort beans and nibs which allow the women time to focus on actually making the chocolate.
1,679 POUNDS of nibs cleaned=49,550 finished chocolate bars.
25,008 PRODUCTS packaged and prepared for sale.
This is another women’s co-op where paper is recycled and turned into art where they are then sold for profit.
11 Women, 4 Artisans, and 3,851 sheets of paper produced.
Direct health impact and cleanliness
Safety from flooding
16 HOMES now have concrete flooring.
111 PEOPLE now live in a safer home.
Cost savings on not having to purchase expensive bottled water directed toward other quality of life improvement-investments.
Reduction in waterborne illness.
316 FILTERS produced
1500+ PEOPLE consume clean, safe water.
English proficiency is one of the largest drivers of employment success in the Dominican.
13 HOURS PER PERSON
That’s a huge impact in just 6 short weeks.
I am forever changed from this experience. When I left, I felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart in the Dominican Republic. I left with a desire to strengthen my Spanish and return with the rest of my family. I told my husband that there’s something very special about the people who live in Puerto Plata. They are proud of their community, they are full of love, and accepting of all walks of life.