Are you traveling to La Descubierta and Los Pinos with Una Vida as a part of our 2013 spring break initiative? At this point, you’ve most likely met the small, insanely hardworking core of Una Vida based in Petaluma and around the US. But, when you arrive in the Dominican Republic, you’ll meet the best part of our organization.
There is a vibrant, dedicated group of Dominicans and Haitians that color our organization, and are at the center of what we do, based in La Descubierta, Los Pinos, Barahona, Santo Domingo and beyond. Once you’ve embarked on a trip with us, you’ve joined a growing group that is grateful to know and love these people, to call them your friends, and to create community, across cultures and generations. Here is a quick preview of who you’ll meet on our trips.
Vianela & Socrates: Their home is the center of the Una Vida universe. During her Peace Corps service, Vianela and Lynne became connected as mother and daughter, and since then their family has continued to grow. They open their home to us during our trips, and the back patio is truly a magical oasis. Located in the heart of town, its where we will meet most days.
Vianela (left), with her granddaughter, Niobe
Monica & Daniel: Lynne’s pana (Dominicanism for BFF), Monica, and her son, Daniel, have always been a part of Una Vida. This is UV CFO Barbra’s second home, and the site of many UV activities. Monica also operates a small shop out of her home, and is a great place to shop if you’ve forgotten something at home, or for small gifts.
Monica, UV intern Sarina, and Daniel
Genesis, Victor, Francisco (Tiga), Starling (Primo), Benjamin, Leo, Oti, Jarol: For those who have worked with Una Vida, these boys need no introduction. A tight knit group of friends, they run up and down and all over town helping to make our trips run smoothly. They welcome our volunteers with open hearts, and support our organization on the ground in invaluable ways.
The boys, eating mangos and being themselves
Waner, Una Vida driver: Always smiling and with a true heart of gold, Waner drives his family’s flatbed truck up and down the mountain road leading to Los Pinos, Angel Feliz, and Sabana Real. His driving skills are the best, and he has been the sweetest edition to UV’s local team. Maribel, who sews the bags we sell, is his mother-in-law. Waner and his wife Charlotte, have a two-year-old daughter, Wanifer
Cristanta: Cristanta is the soul behind the delicious food that hits the table at our Una Vida home base. Although she lives most of the year in La Romana to be close to her family, Cristanta maintains her home in La Descubierta, and runs the kitchen, with love, during our trips.
Anabel: Beloved host sister to many UV volunteers, 14-year old Anabel is a budding UV volunteer. Born to a Haitian mother and Dominican father, she seamlessly speaks both Spanish and Creole, and teaches catechism classes on Sunday mornings at the Centro Don Bosco, an organization run by Dominican nuns.
Yonni: Based in nearby Bartolome, Yonni has become Una Vida’s go-to man for all sorts of projects, from fixing the door to the Madres jewelry room to changing the locks on our work shed. Quiet and reserved, Yonni’s dedication to his work is inspiring. When at the worksite, make sure to offer him a cold cup of water!
Yonni cooks up a delicious meal at La Toma, on the river in La Descubierta
Your host families (in La Descubierta & Los Pinos): All within walking distance from Vianela’s, the members of your host family are your guardians and guides to all things Dominican! All our families have experience hosting Una Vida volunteers, and are waiting to welcome you with open arms. Treat them with love and respect and you’ll quickly find yourself feeling like a part of the family.
UV intern Sarina Consulter with her amazing host family!
The Madres: Based in Los Pinos del Eden, ten women currently make up our tight-knit group, working together to make the jewelry behind the Madres program. Founded in the fall of 2011, the group of women who make up Madres are empowered artisans, and consistently amaze us with their skill and dedication.
The Madres being silly!
The kids living at the Hogar de Niños Jeremie: Located in the town of Neyba about 50 minutes from La Descubierta, Una Vida works to support this children’s home in any and every way we can. It is sponsored by the Christian Relief Fund, and many UV volunteers have returned home and sponsored children living here. Donations from UV supporters provide internet, dental care, and school supplies to the kids here. For many, it’s a true highlight of their trip.
Lunch time at the Hogar de Niños in Neyba