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Working Alongside Caminante

Written by Andrew Davis
July 15, 2014

My name is Andrew Davis and I currently serve as a Short Term Volunteer with Caminante in the Dominican Republic.  Caminante is an organization that provides a safe space where hundreds of youth and their families receive counseling and participate in recreational and formation programs.  It was started twenty years ago by a nun who would visit the children who were on the streets and were not able to go to school because they had to make money for their families. Because this program works with those who work in the streets, Caminante literally means, "One Who Walks the Path.”

 Although I have been here for a short amount of time, my favorite program is one that works with young street boys. We call them “street boys” because one can find them along the roads doing anything they can to make money. Some sell baked goods on the beach or shine shoes. When most kids are out playing and having fun, these boys are out making money so they can eat for the day, although many days they don’t make enough to even by a sandwich. So the Caminante program helps them by feeding them lunch, giving them fresh water to drink, facilitating visits to the doctor to make sure that they are healthy, and giving them clean clothes to wear. They also have an on-duty psychologist to make sure the boys’ mental health is stable. They also have a room were the boys can rest, eat and watch TV. I really like interacting with the boys because you can see that for those few hours, they get to be kids again and not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. A lot of the boys remind me of myself, having to grow up quickly. When my mother passed away when I was eleven, I had to grow up faster then I planned.  Trauma truly forces children to become adults early.

One of the most exciting things is that after some of the children have been though the program, they come back as adults and help the next group of boys.  An example is my new friend Louie Anthony, also known as Don Chi, who was once a street kid and now works with the boys, mentoring them and making sure they stay out of trouble. This is what Caminante does: they take mistreated and abused children and train them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

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