Taylor Rapp serves with Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID), Dominican Republic.
I feel lucky to live in a place like Santo Domingo, where the weather is always warm, even in the winter, and the sun shines brightly and beautifully year-round. There are many wonderful people here that I have gotten to meet and work with during the months that I have been here, both at the office, and in the surrounding communities.
While I am normally stationed in the office in Santo Domingo doing research for Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID), I had the privilege of going out in the field to take part in and be witness to a project that is in partnership with Global Ministries called Cultura de Paz (Culture of Peace). As you may or may not know, the Culture of Peace project here in the Dominican Republic works on bridging the divides between the different communities that reside here (mainly between the Haitian refugees and the Dominican people). I specifically participated in a project focused on using sports to draw communities together so that they could bond over a shared love of games. It was fun getting to interact with the different groups involved, who were all excited to be there.
During this expedition, which was several days long, we visited two different communities. The first was Hato de Padre in San Juan de Maguana, where the local girls’ softball team had raised money for uniforms for a local baseball team. While we were there, there was a celebration in honor of the girls who made this happen, which ended with the planting of several different types of food-producing trees in the area surrounding the playground and in front of some of the neighboring houses. This was extra special because, as I later found out, this area is where a member of my host family grew up. After the initial congratulations ceremony, the girls’ team presented the boys’ team with the uniforms, where they all posed for pictures with their new gear.
The second was in Jimani, the Provincia Independencia, near the Haitian/Dominican border, where a local group of young men was presented with uniforms and soccer balls so that they could play as a team. We met up outside of a baseball field for the exchange.
In both projects, the amount of kindness shown by the people was exemplary. Everyone was very grateful for what they received and there was a lot of happiness from all parties involved.
I can’t wait to see what happens next with this project, and where we will go from here.
Taylor Rapp serves with Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID), Dominican Republic. Taylor’s appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, Week of Compassion, and special gifts.