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Val Dickson – General Manager, Wasaga Beach YMCA

Val Dickson – General Manager, Wasaga Beach YMCA

Thanks to my fabulous employer, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, for working with me to approve time away from my position so I could support humanitarian efforts in the Caribbean.

Hhart 4 trip to the Dominican Republic

On the morning my group was assigned for distribution of food, clothing and toiletries for families that made livings recycling materials from the local garbage dump, we were warned that the experience might be overwhelming. The members of our group were instructed not to cover our noses against the stench of raw waste, or react to seeing families compete with cows for food salvaged from the refuse; those reactions would be disrespectful. I have to admit, some of our group couldn’t handle what they saw, but I knew that for people working here this was a decent living: for the women the choice may have been scavenging or prostitution. These people were obviously very poor, but they still had pride in their ability to make a living. On the same day, we met an artisan that bought recycled glass from these garbage workers from which she made beautiful stained glass art. She loved working with these discarded, worthless forgotten bits of glass because, like the people who worked in the dump and set them aside for her, they still had a purpose to fulfill. Together, the people working at the dump created something amazing and purposeful. The beauty was there; you just needed the light to see it shine through.

It was a meaningful trip and it really wasn’t about me, but the people, Dominican & Haitian that we served while living there.

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