Happy Spring Break!


Spring Break is upon and that means lots and lots of volunteers! Here is a photo of our leadership team in the DR.


Amanda Es De Nosotros


I rode into Santiago the night before my flight to help with the transition back to the U.S. That way I sleep better that night and I kind of “let go” of work and a whole lot more on the way out of town.

I found myself looking out the window on the long drive in, taking mental pictures that no camera would ever do justice, of this country and culture that I love. The rich countryside with its rice production. The people, so warm and lovely.

Part of me was almost sad to be going away from this place that I love and I call home for more than a month. And then I realized that I am not a woman without a country. I am a woman with two countries, many homes, and lots of people who love me.

I am blessed.



Today I went to prison.

I have supported Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) for several years with small financial gifts and this year as an Executive Business Adviser. So, this year when planning my vacation to the U.S., I decided to make a stop in Houston. I wanted to see firsthand what they do and also participate in “Selling Night” where PEP participants gain valuable experience pitching and crafting their business plans.

Then, all of the sudden last night I began to think, “What the heck am I doing?” In Houston, going to a prison? And I was a little bit nervous.

The event today was amazing. I have rarely been so welcomed into a community of people eager to meet me and have what we refer to in the Dominican as an intercambio – the meeting of two or more people on level ground to learn from and serve each other.
The men in the PEP are near release and have undergone an intensive interview process to be able to participate in a challenging-MBA like program. I had read the literature, but still was not prepared for how well spoken, genuine, and eager to work hard they would be.

The biggest take away for me today was: we are all the same. As the men pitched to me they were nervous. As I got ready this morning I was nervous. They have made some mistakes and the good Lord knows just how many of those I have made too. I saw myself in them. I have been given many second chances and good gifts I did not deserve. I want to be a facilitator of those same things to them too.

Several Executive Volunteers stood up and addressed the men and told them they came to this event and to serve them because the men are worthy. So true.

El Morro

Photo0004 by amandapandatheblog
Photo0004, a photo by amandapandatheblog on Flickr.

El Morro literally means “the mound.”

It is an icon of Monte Cristi, visible everywhere in town and for quite a distance.

This is quite possibly a contender for my best photo of El Morro, taken with my cell phone while out for an early morning walk. (Straight out of the camera, no editing, because, let’s be real, I don’t know how to do that. 🙂

If you look closely at the foreground you will see two men working to harvest salt from the salt flats.

A Letter From a Sponsored Child


Today marks the end of Compassion International’s blog month.

For the last assignment, they asked us to write a letter as if we were a sponsored child. I wasn’t going to do this assignment, but I decided it was kind of like a creative writing exercise and I liked the idea of exercising that muscle, so…

To give you context, I wrote this from view point of a child just entered in the sponsorship program, writing their sponsor for the first time, completely unhindered by what is best or correct to say.


Dear Sponsor,

I love you! Do you love me? You must or why did you chose me? Will you write me a lot? Will you ever visit? Dare I hope for that much?! Will you send me a present?

What are you like? It is hard for me to imagine…

What is your life like? It must be very different and strange…

Why do you sponsor me? I don’t even really know what that means, let alone understand why…

My heart is open and I will tell you many things if you only ask… I am waiting for you to tell me who I am to you; to help write part of my story along with the Author of all things.

With love, Your Sponsored Child


If you don’t sponsor a child through Compassion, will you please consider doing so today? I dare say you cannot resist if you click over and look their photos and bios. 🙂

Caperucita Roja


One of the main focuses of our program is Literacy and teaching children to love reading. So, while my mom was here she thought she would work on literacy by reading the book of Caperucita Roja, or Little Red Riding Hood.

Of course, this is my mom, who does not just read a book; she acted it out… with props. 🙂

Then she had the kids take the props and play different parts and do the story themselves, which the loved.

The Long Term Volunteers (who are in charge of each classroom) assure me that it was not only entertaining, but educational. The kids got very into telling the story and playing the parts.