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As a member of senior staff, I rarely have the opportunity to work in the field. My job involves managing our budget, collaborating with local providers, and risk assessment. This doesn’t always give me the opportunity to get to know the communities we work in. This week, as a change of pace, I accompanied Maren on her weekly visit to Loma del Yaque.

1080I didn’t know what to expect, seeing as I had never spent a night in one of our communities before. As soon as I arrived, I was reminded of why we do this job. For 24 hours, I experienced the daily life of participants Jake and Sam. We started off playing dominoes by local kids, who happily made fun of me when I lost. Soon after, we went to the river to cool down. Loma del Yaque, seated in the mountains to the east of San Juan de la Maguana, is naturally breathtaking. Even so, I was far too distracted splashing around with community members to pay much attention. Time flew by. Pretty soon I found myself playing volleyball with the team, arguing and laughing together.

Everywhere I turned, I was greeted with warm and welcoming energy from community members.  I was able to see why the participants’ project, putting up lights in the sports field and park, will be so important for the community. The already thriving youth group will able to continue challenging and supporting each other later into the night, and children will have a safe space to get together and play. The next day, when I had to leave and return to my normal duties, I felt reinvigorated and lucky to work with communities like Loma del Yaque.

Being in the field helped me to better understand the impact of our work. It also strengthened the respect that I have for my team for all the hard work they do every week and finally made me feel more committed than ever to work harder and harder every day.