How can you help another country? Sure, you could send money, but how can you get personally involved?
Two different groups of Columbus alumni, teachers, and students have been to the Dominican Republic, seen how the people live, and are doing what they can to help. LIFO, Living Instruments For Others, has helped people for thirty years to have one simple mission: bring water to people. The firm of PAAST, for over 10 years, has also had a mission: to nurture children who need simple affection they don’t get at home. LIFO and PAAST have found people for years who have been willing to give basic resources to all who need most.
Alumni like Albert Perez and Adrian Alfonso, teachers like Carlos Bravo and Teresa Chomat, and all the students have been giving enough to go on this trip. They are willing to do more than the average, the common, the ordinary person to make the lives of others better and worth something more than the trash they pick up from the streets.
LIFO for thirty years has given water to towns where it seems like an impossible task to even get. “Our main mission there was to build a 15 kilometer aqueduct to provide water to over 300 families. Whether it was to build a tank for water or to dig trenches to lay down the pipe to bring the water to their homes.” said Carlos Bravo, teacher at Columbus. Carlos said why he went back and anyone should go to “For me it was just going back after 25 years and it was just experiencing what I experienced the first time. The love of these people is so amazing and seeing the kids of the group. Seeing my own son was going through what I did so long ago, something special.” People from ages sixteen to sixty are going on these trips seeing the need for water in the poorest part of the country.
Water is important, but nourishing is also what keeps the kids alive. Teresa Chomat, teacher at Columbus, says,”The trip doesn’t have a name.We went to Las Matas de Fantan, which is a small little town near the border of Haiti. Father Liam Quinn sponsors this daycare called the Guarderia. There, they feed the kids breakfast and lunch, the only meals they would be able to give. It is also an elementary school that goes up until third grade. We played and brought clothes for the children; we just sat in a chair and spent time with them.” The trip takes one week, seven days giving love to children wanting to be carried, played with, and a giving of someone else to them. “ It was heart wrenching to see the way the children lived and seeing what we take for granted. The parents asked us what can I do for you for what you’ve done for my child.”Why do alumni and everyone else even consider going? “It’s part of the Marist Mission, what the Marist brothers strive for, to give others, to serve others and make Jesus known to others,” said Alfonso.
This is his reason for going back, but there are many more reasons to even go on any mission trip. Whether it be for part of the Marist mission, or for own personal growth and knowledge. Both mission trips continue to strive for the betterment of others’ lives as part of the Great Commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.