On a Mission to Change the World

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The Dominican Republic has faced extreme poverty and a lack of advocacy for decades. Since 2006, Saint Ambrose Parish and The FEST have worked on an outreach effort, Mission Possible. Saint Ambrose and The FEST coordinated with the Archbishop Timothy Broglio, then Papal Nuncio. After seeing the extreme lack of basic necessities, Saint Ambrose and The FEST committed to working in the Dominican Republic to build a community center/chapel, a school, and houses. Beginning in 2006, there are two mission groups that head down each year to continue the work to help the people of the Dominican Republic. Since then, a community center, school, and a medical clinic have been built along with providing water and septic for the first sixty houses, and much more.

Several Brunswick high school students, including myself, have gone on the mission to the Dominican Republic with our church, Saint Ambrose. We spent one week of the summer down in the Dominican Republic to assist those most in need by painting houses that were just built, building swing sets and other activities for the kids, digging water lines, moving rock, sealing roofs, and interacting with the kids.

“My favorite part was hanging out with the kids, interacting with the locals, and teaching them english while they taught me spanish,” says junior, Maria Antonius.

Maria has gone on the mission for the past two years, and has plans to continue attending in the future.

While spending time working in the Dominican Republic, we also traveled to experience the country and see why we are doing the work we are doing. We visited a place called “Tin City” where the poorest of the poor live. Their living space no bigger than the smallest room in your house, made out of scrap metal, with human waste and sewage running directly alongside their homes. The sad reality is that even with the smallest home and awful living conditions their government still charges them expensive amounts to live on the land. The sight is terrible, but the smell is horrifying.

“The most eye-opening part of the trip was when we travelled to Tin City and we saw how trash lined the river where they get their drinking water and bathing water, and it’s weird to think they don’t have the basic systems of trash disposal like we take for granted here in the states,” says sophomore, Emily Bardwell.

Along with the sad sights in Tin City, driving to the worksite every day allowed us to take in the rest of the city, and the way of life for most people there. There are many different cell-phone networks but their phones, if they are fortunate enough to have one, only connect to the one by where they live, because most of them will never leave a two-block radius in their lifetime. Individuals trying to support themselves with their own businesses, the lack of order and laws, and the nonexistent safety and sanitation we take for granted really proves why we need to be there.

“In America we are very well off. Our poor is not even close to the poor in other countries and so many people don’t realize that. The people in the Dominican do not even have the access to clean water and food like our poor does,” says junior, Mary Gill.


The missionaries standing in front of the Basilica in the Dominican Republic. Photo Credit: Michelle Koerper

The mission has been going down for ten years, with trips happening every year in the summer months. The mission is providing the resources needed to teach the individuals of the Dominican how to live a healthy life, how to take care of children, provide education, and working with the government to providing the housing necessary to help the people who so desperately need it.


“It’s always incredibly inspiring to see the progress in the mission community and to experience the the continued sense of family and community. I hope as time goes on, Mission Possible can continue to support the communities in Higuey to be their best selves, and try to provide the needed resources so that everyone has what they need to lead safe, healthy lives,” says Caitlin O’Neill, Saint Ambrose youth ministry director.  

The mission is a wonderful way to better your knowledge and understanding of the world, and truly understand what it means when people tell you to be happy with what you have. After two trips down there, I can truly tell you my perspective has changed on how lucky I am to not only live in a country that has a functioning government, but a country that helps its people and has safety, sanitation, and order.

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