Trip of a lifetime

Zoe Edwards visits NPH Dominican Republic
January 18, 2018 - New Zealand

Zoe enjoying time with the kids

When I arrived at the NPH home in the Dominican Republic, I expected to be greeted with scenes of children in need of care, buildings in need of repair and staff in need of a break. What I found was a normal, functioning small community. Brothers and sisters laughing, playing and squabbling over whose turn it was. Caregivers doing their best to contain the everyday chaos that is looking after happy, energy-filled children.

This surprised me because normalcy is not the norm where these kids come from, but an oddity reserved for the wealthy on distant coastlines. Often coming from extreme poverty, trauma, neglect and abuse, it is said they are the worst-case scenario. But when you see their smiling faces and cheeky eyes, it’s easy to forget the past that led these children to their present sanctuary.

The grounds themselves are a testament to NPH’s efforts to create an everyday environment - a beautiful miniature village walled off from the outside world. Lampposts line clean streets that guide the kids from their suburban style homes to their school, sports fields, church and clinic. The buildings are bright and welcoming, the park in the middle a bustling hub for socialising and relaxing in the shade.

Here they have the time and energy to be generous, creative and make mistakes. To play up and play fight. To support each other and tease each other. To be a kid. Here they worry about being front in line, whether they’ll have time to play football before class and what they’ll eat for dinner - not if.

But normalcy was not stumbled upon or a miracle sent from above. It is a gift donated by generous people all around the world and volunteers who dedicate their time and love to giving these kids a chance at being an average child and having an average future. Possibly even an exceptional one.

Donations and volunteers give these children all the things we take for granted; a safe place to sleep, food in their stomachs and a caring arm around their shoulders. It took one afternoon in the local village to know that without NPH, easy access to a quality education, medical attention and a loving caregiver would not be their reality.

Of course, there is always a long list of things that would make life above average for the children of NPH. Extra funds to help the kids with vocational training or university, growth of the special needs and cancer treatment units. It will provide the resources for new programs that expose the kids to new ideas such as environmental studies, mindfulness and stress management. It will also help NPH extend their reach in the surrounding communities to those with loving caregivers but limited access to food, shelter and healthcare.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the positive effect NPH could have on the surrounding impoverished communities through educational programmes, medical care and improving housing? All of this depends on the readiness of Kiwis to say ‘I can give something.’

As well as giving what you can, if you’re in a position to do so, I would also attest to visiting an NPH home yourself.

You arrive thinking your days will be spent using every ounce of love and energy you have to improve the lives of these kids. You leave filled with the love and energy they have given to you.

If you’d like to visit a home, please contact Loren for more information about the next trip in May 2018 to NPH Mexico and Guatemala. Email or call 09 2160635

Zoe Edwards   
Media volunteer




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