Anthem #2: Dominican Republic

ALL RISE-ELEVATE YOURSELF
By Tom Everitt

EPISODE #1

Rather than confuse people with 2 blog tabs on our 80 anthems website, I will be 'guest blogging' on Bowen's Blog regularly.  You will notice my blogs by the name, 'ALL RISE-ELEVATE YOURSELF' at the top and the episode number afterwards.  Thanks in advance for reading.

Over the course of preparing for this journey, we have had the comment many times that people hope we "enjoy our vacation". Come again? I beg your pardon?  Vacation? What is this "vacation" that you speak of?  Rest assured this is not a vacation.  Absolutely, unequivically NOT a vacation.  Experience of a lifetime?  Absolutely.  Journey of discovery?  No doubt.  Destroyer of bank accounts?  You got it, Pontiac.  World's greatest marriage tester?  Umm.... well.... I'm afraid I cannot answer this question as it may incriminate me (and, sadly, my wife is my editor-in-chief).  

Back to our "vacation" though and case in point: our first international stop, the Dominican Republic.  We spent exactly 6 hrs in the Dominican.  The 1st half hour was, of course, trying to find our ride to SOS Villages DR.  Our driver was no where to be seen, no where near the area where we were told we were to be picked up at and no one appeared to even know what the heck we were talking about when asking directions.  Indeed it was only after Capri sang the Dominican National Anthem to a group of miserable policemen that not only did we get smiles all around, but directions, offers for cell phone usage and, of course, requests for pictures and video (sadly not of yours truly).  During the impromptu photo sessions I was relegated to the curb side along with several stray dogs and a well fed donkey.

Once located and pleasantries exchanged, we then piled into an old van and were driven 1.5 hrs into Santiago.  Seat Belts?  Overrated!  AC?  Nice try, champ.  Shock absorbers?  Fagetaboutit!  The vibrations, we soon discovered, were a welcome massage to the earlier-than-anticipated aching of our spines anyhow.

The driver was very pleasant, however and a rather spectacular pilot, bobbing and weaving through traffic like Emerson Fittipaldi in Chrysler's 1987 version of a Honda Pilot.  The drive was thrilling, terrifying, impressive and depressing.  A veritable smorgasbord of emotion, especially considering this was the first stop on our 80 anthems journey.  Lush, green mountains and fields, busy economic hubs, all combined with brutal 'housing', garbage and shady 'rest stops'.  That being said, during traffic stops, the people I saw engaging with one another seemed like everyday people living their lives.  Note this is obviously a very superficial and extremely limited, 6 hr viewpoint.

Imagine, then, our surprise when we arrived at the SOS Village!  Impressive!  Clean!  And, most importantly, filled with approximately 84 seemingly happy, well adjusted children.   We were greeted by about 20 kids of all ages and our host, Licel, who encircled our fan and certainly made us feel very welcome.

They had prepared a sound guy, stage, and seating for us.  We were THRILLED.  After a few test runs, we filmed a few versions of the Dominican National Anthem with as many kids as would participate.  We also had a lovely audience of supportive 'fans' and both Capri and Bowen were treated wonderfully by the kids who, truthfully, wanted to hear Capri's version of 'Let It Go' far more than their national anthem.

Bowen and I were then invited to participate in a game of football (soccer for you uneducated North Americanos) and I quickly discovered every one of my 48 yrs weighing heavily on both my aching joints & my cardiovascular system.  Some of these kids were amazing!  But, again, we were treated wonderfully.

Finally, we were invited to a lunch with the folks who run the SOS Village, along with 2 girls who aspired to be singers and wanted to meet Capri.  One was 17 and had been in the village since she was 3 yrs old.  I was stunned.  And so very happy for how she seemed to be turning out.  They were great kids who seemed to have a decent future ahead of them.

Soon we were back onboard the minivan-from-hell & heading out.  Mission 2/80 accomplished. 

This village is what SOS is all about.  Clean facilities, a positive environment and well adjusted kids.  .85 cents of EVERY dollar donated to SOS goes to the building of the villages.  Our first international stop was one of the most inspiring days of my life.  We can only dream that each stop is equally as wonderful.  

For the last 9 months I've had the quote 'Hold the vision, trust the process' as my iphone & ipad wallpaper.  I think we might be on to something here.  Party on, Garth. 

We hope you enjoy the video & please share it in your social circles. You can really help us. Next stop... Mexico.  Areeba! Areeba! Undelay!! 

Tom