El Almendro

We walked through El Almendro, a school in Santo Domingo that serves over 300 children, from infants to 6 year olds. Mercet, the School Director, let us visit the classrooms to dance and play with the kids. It was amazing to see how this school goes above and beyond in caring for each student.

One of the most valuable things they do is provide clean water for the children as well as the surrounding community! The school provides classes for the parents as well AND has a full-time doctor and psychologist on staff!

Mercet leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “That’s her. That’s the one.” We peaked into a classroom of two and three year olds and I saw her! My heart started racing a bit. You see, I visited El Almendro about a month ago, and one little girl captivated me. She was crying, and since all the teachers in her classroom were busy I picked her up. We stared at each other, both a little unsure, but she calmed down a bit, and I handed her off. There was a certain sadness in her eyes that captured me in that moment. I found out later that both of her parents had been recently killed in a tragic car accident. It took everything in me to to leave her after hearing that.

When I saw her again, I could hardly contain my excitement. I walked over to her and saw those same eyes, but this time they were filled with so much light and hope. We spent a couple of minutes together and this time she smiled and laughed as she showed me her drawing from class.

It’s these moments that tie it all together for me. It’s seeing hope in a little girl’s eyes because she is able to attend a school that so deeply cares for her needs:  physical, spiritual, and emotional. It’s knowing that the water filtration system we installed is keeping her healthy and happy and actually generating an income for the school to function! And it’s knowing that I’ll be back to continue to watch her grow and develop into a strong, healthy, and loved little girl. -Kayla Fruchtman