Friday, May 15, 2009

Please help our summer camps!

Dear Friends and Family,

I send you all "abrazos fuertes" from la Rep├║blica Dominicana!

Life here in the Dominican Republic (DR) marches on for your favorite Peace Corps Volunteer. With a little more than 6 months remaining in my service, I am keeping busy with preparations for a summer full of activities and special projects related to youth development and education. As many of you know, one of my main projects here is HIV/AIDS education for high-risk youth in my community. As part of this effort, I am working with my youth group (now 30+ strong) and with other Peace Corps Volunteers and their youth groups from around the country to organize three very special summer camps designed to give kids an opportunity for creativity, sharing, and fun... but we need your help to make them a possibility.

Please take a look at the descriptions of each event below, and if you can, please make a contribution to our work here in the DR using the electronic links attached. As always, 100% of your donation will directly benefit the program - not one penny is taken for overhead expenses.

If you have any questions about any of these programs, please feel free to e-mail me. Thanks for your support of our efforts to educate Dominican youth and provide opportunities for growth and fun.

1. Girls Leading Our World - Campamento "Estrellas de Hoy"

This is a weeklong summer camp for girls only. Girls will have the opportunity to hear and talk openly and honestly about life goals, life planning, safe-sex, healthy relationships and much more. With information and hands-on activities as diverse as HIV prevention, self-esteem, sports, art, music, and nutrition, the camp will be life-affirming for all our participants, and a much needed respite from the social and economic pressures faced by many girls in rural Dominican communities. Unfortunately, many young women in the DR have children and are married or otherwise involved in a domestic partnership far before age 18. Our Camp aims to try to break this cycle by reminding girls that they have the power to make healthy choices and take control of their lives.

Please donate to GIRLS LEADING OUR WORLD:
https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=517-303

2. Boys' and Girls' Sports Camp:

Following the success of last year's volleyball camp for girls, I have recently volunteered with other Volunteers to help organize and run a second 3-day sports camp for both boys and girls. Appropriately named "Jugar para Vivir" (Play to Live), the camp will teach younger kids (10-14) skills and sportsmanship in Soccer, Volleyball, and Kickball while also focusing on themes and activities to teach skills for healthy development: HIV and unwanted pregnancy prevention, ways to avoid alcohol and drug abuse, and incorporating sports, excercise, and nutrition into a an overall healthy lifestyle. Yours truly will be heading up the volleyball portion of the camp and teaching swimming lessons. Should be great fun and lots of learning for both boys and girls...

Please donate to SPORTS CAMP:https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=517-296

3. "Celebrando el Sur" Cultural Conference:

Celebrando el Sur (Celebrating the South) is a three-day conference focused on diversity and cultural understanding here in the southern region of the DR. The South is the least developed region of the country and youth throughout the area face great economic hardship and a lack of opportunities. I will be bringing three young people from my community and together with the 60 other conference participants they will participate in a variety of challenging cultural talks and activities, broadening their perspectives to the experiences of others around them and people throughout the world. Dominican youth living in rural communities rarely get the opportunity to travel outside of their own community, and this conference is an amazing chance for them to meet other young people from the South in a positive, stimulating environment.

Please donate to CELEBRANDO EL SUR:
https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=517-299

If any of the above links should not work, you can access the Peace Corps' main donations website through this link: www.peacecorps.gov/contribute and follow the menus to Dominican Republic and then look for the names of the three conferences.

As always, thank you all for being such great sources of support, freindship, love, and advice during the past two years of my service. Although I am loving my work with the Peace Corps, I miss you all very much and am looking forward to coming home soon!

Best wishes for a wonderful summer...

-Tod.