Happy Belated Turkey Day

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Apr 06, 2008

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hi All!
  How is everyone?  I hope all you had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with good food, family, and fun.  We had Peace Corps Thanksgiving again this year at the same country club as last year.  My friends Lauren and Liz were in charge of organizing the whole shindig and I helped out running the activities on the actual day.  We had sports in the morning and after we gorged ourselves on a feast we had a dance contest, talent show, and dating game in the afternoon/evening.  It was pretty entertaining and good to spend the day with friends, as opposed to sitting alone in my campo on a holiday that they don't celebrate in the DR!  It was a little hectic trying to take ticket money, deal with the caterers, etc, but it was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Yesterday was our annual all-volunteer conference in Santo Domingo and today I am getting a few things done before heading back to the campo.
  Things in my site are going really well.  We had 16 stoves completed as of the time I left for the capital and they were planning on making 4 more this week while I am gone, so we should be up to 20 when I get back.  We will most likely finish with the 25 sets of ceramic pieces that I had bought before I leave to go home for Christmas, then finish up with 15 or 20 more in January (once our grant money comes in).  Then I will be DONE with this part of my work!  It is so exciting to see the excitement in the project and the progress we have made.  Many people have fixed up their existing kitchens or even built new ones to accomodate the stoves, and they take tremendous pride in keeping them clean and well maintained.  I have enjoyed watching my project partners learn the construction process and now I feel comfortable leaving them to work even when I can't be there. 
  I would like to say a BIG thank you to those of you who have donated to my project so far.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated by both myself and the people who will be benefiting from it!  I still need $700 to meet my goal, but I know that we will get it all.  Again, the information for those who wish to donate is as follows:

Go to www.peacecorps.gov
Click on "Donate Now" to the left of the page.
Click on "Donate to Volunteer Projects" and then on "Caribbean" when it asks you to choose a region.  My project is the second one listed.

  We are having out annual Brigada Verde (Green Brigade) youth group conference this coming weekend and I am taking two kids from my community.  The theme is "Yo Quiero Mi Pais" (I love my country) and we are trying to promote environmentalism as patriotism, i.e. if you love your country, take care of it and don't throw your trash all over the place! 
  A few random things . . . first of all, congratulations to Susie and Mike, who got married over the past weekend.  I am so happy for them and wish them all of the best!  I was sorry not to be able to be there but I got the scoop from my mom and I hear it was beautiful.  Also, my friend Liz here in the DR works with an organic cacao cooperative and they are working on a cool project that may interest any chocolate lovers out there.  Last year they struck a deal to sell their cacao beans to Taza Chocolates, a small company based out of Massachusetts that makes high-quality organic artesan chocolate products.  They now sell a single-origin chocolate bar made exclusively with beans from Liz's cooperative!  Go to www.tazachocolate.com and check it out if you are interested.  You can buy the products online, and I hear that they are delicious.  They make a great gift for anyone who loves chocolate, and you can support fair-trade organic products and help out a Peace Corps project at the same time. 
  I love Clare and Andrew's idea of doing a fair-trade holiday shopping challenge.  After living and working with people who make practically nothing by selling their agricultural products, I fully support giving local growers/artesans/producers a fair price.  I live in an area where there is lots of cacao.  In fact, it is the only major cash crop in our area.  However, due to the fact that the farmers have to sell their products through so many middlemen and have no access to the big companies, they end up barely scraping by while Hershey's and Mars, who eventually buy their beans, make an absolute killing.  Just something to bear in mind while you do your holiday shopping!
  Ok enough of my liberal proselytizing for now :)  Hope all is well.  Check out my Flickr site if you haven't recently - I posted a few new pictures the last time I was in the capital.  Take care, and I can't wait to see some (hopefully lots) of you at Christmas!

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