Monday, January 25, 2010

my week of soirees!

My social calendar this week has been fuera de control! Everyone in Cabarete has been scrambling to do what we can to help out in Haiti. It seems that everything there is still too disorganized for more volunteers to be of much help (especially non-Creole speaking, non-medical professional ones), so we've been focusing on fundraising efforts. Here in Cabarete there are enough tourists and expats that there are plenty of funds to be tapped, unlike in a lot of Peace Corps sites.

DREAM held two events. We had a pulga (flea market) here in the barrio--a bunch of people donated used clothing to us, which we sold to the residents of the Callejon. They got cheap clothing, we raised 25,000 pesos for Haitian relief. I myself spent $400 pesos on a new wallet, purse, and T-shirt. Everyone wins!

We also had a fancier event downtown, aimed at tourists & expats. We sold art made by the students, as well as a lot of jewelry donated by local businesses. There we made $40,000 pesos. Wow! (To put this in perspective--my entire monthly salary is $13,000 pesos.) In total we raised over $5000 US.

Remember my T-shirt tote bags? Here are some, after being decorated by the kids.

Here's some of the donated jewelry. I ended up buying the white button necklace.

Me and Lindsey, both wearing hot pink and posing in front of the donated higüero lanterns. Also, I'm wearing my new button necklace!

We also had a groundbreaking ceremony at DREAM. We got funding to build a few new classrooms for our center, hooray! And Celines Toribio, a Dominican actress/model, came to be our celebrity guest. She was really fun with the kids and, claro, extremely pretty. (I didn't bring my camera that day, alas.)

On Sunday evening, a few friends organized a FUNraiser (get it... because it's fun) at a local bar. There was a silent auction, and all of us DREAM volunteers made out like bandits! I spent $600 pesos on $1000 pesos worth of gift certificates at the two restaurants we always eat at. Hooray! Plus, I'm helping Haiti. I am a hero! A hero entitled to $1000 pesos worth of pizza and mojitos! This is the best kind of hero to be.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

tote bags for haiti!

DREAM is having an art show/fundraiser for the Red Cross next week! One thing we're planning to sell are these awesome tote bags made out of old T-shirts! We're planning to get kids to decorate them, but let me show you some of the plain ones I made this afternoon. It's soo easy, you don't even have to sew!

Step one, get a box. I mean, a T-shirt. And turn it inside-out.

Step two, cut the sleeves off of it, one inch-ish in from the seams. (If you do this a lot of times with crappy scissors, you will get a blister on your thumb. If you are lucky, you will have a Hello Kitty Band-Aid to put over it.)

Step three, cut out the neck. Basically make it a sexy tank top.

Step four, cut some awesome 80s-style fringe in the bottom. About a half-inch wide, two inches long, all the way across.

Step five, tie all the fringes together with double knots.

Step six, turn it rightside-out and oh my God you made a bag!!

Step seven, try to put your cat in the bag.


sigiendo la lucha

By now, I'm sure you have all read about the situation in Haiti. It's pretty grim. The earthquake would have been bad anywhere, of course, but in Haiti? In Port-au-Prince? Yikes. It pretty much destroyed all the infrastructure in a country that had barely any to start out with. People here are trying to mobilize. DREAM is having a few fundraiser events, and we're donating some of our own stuff (that others had previously donated to us).

Aside from being worried about Haiti, we've all been a little down here since it's been raining constantly for two weeks now. My street is a river, my apartment floods when it rains too hard, all my clothing is mud-spattered, and things are molding. Things that I did not even think could mold are molding. Of course, as annoying as all this is, I know I'm lucky to have a roof over my head. A twist of geographic luck and that earthquake could have been in Santo Domingo, not Port-au-Prince.

I'm sure you have heard this before, but truly, if you have any money to donate to Red Cross or Partners in Health or Oxfam or any relief charity, please do. It will help Duarte rest easier. He is very concerned about Haitian cats.


(Okay... he's not really. He's pretty oblivious. But you're not, right?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

¡terremoto! or, the power of social media

Yikes! I was just sitting here in my apartment, minding my own business after a long day of DREAMing, when suddenly everthing started shaking. Duarte was frolicking around the bed and at first I thought maybe he was jumping too much and shaking the bed. Then I realized that even though Duarte has gotten fatter, he's still not big enough to do that kind of damage. Since I am sooo fancy and have Internet in my apartment now, I got on Twitter and joked about how maybe my apartment was collapsing. Then I felt dizzy and decided to eat some fruit snacks. I felt better and thought I had solved the problem! Then I read Rainn Wilson's (aka Dwight Schrute on The Office) Twitter where he said "Just heard there was a terrible earthquake in Haiti. Please send some prayers that way - they need a LOT of help."

Then I realized that it wasn't just my need for fruit snacks, and started Googling. CNN had nothing on it until like ten minutes after Rainn Wilson's Twitter. A few of my fellow IT volunteers updated their Facebooks with blurbs about the earthquake. Finally, CNN posted a 2-sentence story, which included the phrase "tsunami watch." Then I spent awhile Googling "tsunami" and freaking myself out. (Don't worry! It does not seem I am in any real tsunami danger here on the North Coast. However, in general please DO worry about tsunamis because they are terrible!!)

Anyway, in summation: I'm fine, the Internet is crazy, and you should maybe donate some money to the Red Cross because they are going to need it in Haiti. (More than they already did.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

¡dos mil diez!

Oh gosh! Happy new year! I have not blogged in a little while, because I have been too busy working to fight global poverty.

Just kidding, mainly I've been hanging out with Duarte and watching episodes of 30 Rock on my laptop. Global poverty can suck it. Uh... what I mean to say is, classes are starting soon again at the DREAM Center, at which point I will once again do my part to right global wrongs by teaching children how to blog.

Anyway, in addition to hanging out with my grumpy kitten I have had a few other exciting moments. My friend Justin came back from vacation on the 29th, and a group of us with nothing else to do (and deep love for Justin in our hearts) made big posters and went to greet him at the airport. Dominicans were curious about who we might be waiting for. One guy told us he "already saw a white guy leave." We assured him that we weren't waiting for a white guy, but rather a Chinese one. (Dominicans tend to refer to all Asian people as "Chinese," which Asian volunteers can either get really depressed about or find it hilarious. Justin, a Filipino, generally opts for the latter.)

Justin, Jen, Karina, and Steph showing off their posters.

We were, in fact, dazzled.

In addition to gracing us with his company, Justin also brought me back some Christmas presents from my mom! Most exciting of these were organic macaroni & cheese and a new digital camera!! It is a Canon PowerShot SD1200IS, whatever that means, and I really like it! It is very small and it takes pictures quickly. This is important, because with my old camera I could pretty much only take pictures of Duarte when he was sleeping. With this technological advancement, please expect up to 75% more photos of Duarte.

Here's one right now! This was at my friend Judith's apartment, where Duarte stayed during Christmas.

For New Year's Eve, volunteers traditionally come to Cabarete to party. Although I party in Cabarete every day, it is exciting to have visitors!

Here is a picture of me, Jen, and Karina. Party hats are involved to verify that it is, in fact, New Year's Eve.

I made two New Year's resolutions. One was to leave the DR without hating it (not that I hate it now, but I do have a little bit of an attitude problem that I want to keep in check). The other one was... uh... I forgot. Keeping my attitude in check is the biggest one, I suppose. Cheers to a new decade!