For $400US, the Abundant Life Charity can provide the families of the Batay with meals for 2-3 days. For some, these are the only meals they are able to eat in a week. Our goal is to help these families do more than just survive.
Testimonial from Supporter Jamie Sheridan
Jamie Sheridan talks about building the new school in the Dominican Republic.
“Let’s go to Punta Cana again this year.” A simple statement that led to an awesome adventure with a passionate man of God in the town of Higuey.
Kevin and Denise had told us of the creation of The Abundant Life charity after a meeting with Pastor Gabriel D’Alusma (Gabi) in Punta Cana. He had a dream of building a school for the children in the town who would not get an education otherwise. Abundant Life came through and a team from Home Hardware went there to help build the school of their dreams. My wife Pat, and our friends Tom and Mary Lou all thought it would be cool to visit the town and meet Gabi.
Gabi picked us up at our hotel and we spoke to him about his work in Higuey. When we arrived at his home near the school, we were amazed to see how the community greeted him. Everyone who passed said hello or acknowledged him with a wave and a smile. However, the smile got bigger on Gabi’s face when he said to us “There are some of my boys – come and meet them”. We walked down the street to a rough field of grass where a group of boys were playing baseball. They were from the team that Gabi coached and he was so proud for us to meet these his “boys”. After a few moments with them, they wanted to see how Tom and I did with a baseball bat!! It was fairly successful, but not pretty! After handing out some chocolate bars to the boys we were very impressed that each of them said thank you. When we told this to Gabi, his response was “Praise to God”. It was important to him that the children had learned to be polite, but more importantly that it was God’s hand in all of his undertakings.
From there we went back to the school which will be in operation this fall, God willing. It is a terrific facility with a large play yard with basketball nets, and lots of room for the children to play. The school is one story right now and brightly painted in lovely, bright Caribbean colours and there are plans to add a second story which will provide 3 more much needed classrooms. The current building has 3 classrooms, plus some administrative space and is well laid out for the education of these children in need. With this education the students will have opportunities within the tourism industry for example, which will provide them with a living wage. All of the students will wear uniforms as is the custom in the Dominican Republic. The building of the school is just the beginning Gabi told us, as more funds will need to be raised for furnishings, salaries, uniforms etc. You could not wipe the smile off of Gabi’s face as he gave us the grand tour of the school. His passion for these children is infectious and his energy is boundless.
From there we spoke to Gabi about his other work in the Batay. A Batay is a plantation where sugar cane is grown. The people who live and work in the Batay are paid very little money and for those who have no paperwork, education is not available. As a result, they live in small shacks and cannot provide for their families because of the pittance they are paid. All of us went to a local grocery store and bought a number of essential items such as rice, pasta, milk products, biscuits, juice boxes and other groceries for the Batay. When we arrived there, we were surrounded by the people who lived there. Gabi’s wife took the bags that we filled and passed them out to the women of the community as she knew that they would feed their children and that the food would not be hoarded or squandered. We were overwhelmed both by the need of these people and their children, but also the gratitude that they showed with many hugs and handshakes. The van ride back was a little quieter as we were all very introspective about what we had seen. The need was so great and will be ongoing for a long time.
Our final stop was back at Gabi’s house where he has a room that is used as a chapel. His children were all involved, many of them playing instruments loudly in praise of God. This man that we had spent the day with and had come to know as a quiet, but passionate person stood up in front of his congregation. He was no longer the quiet man, he was the very passionate man of God as he preached to his congregation! His message was loud and clear delivered in such a way that even those of us who did not speak Spanish knew what he was preaching!
After we got back to our hotel and exchanged hugs with Gabi and his wife, we went back to our “vacation”. It was very different going through the buffet line that evening. It was not so much guilt at how blessed we were, and that the problems we face are so different… like what food we should get from the buffet (!), but more of a deep realization of the need that is out there. We who have so much have an incredible opportunity to help people in ways we cannot imagine. With donations of money, time, consumables such as toothpaste, pencils, coloured pencils and paper etc. we can make an incredible difference in the lives of these children. If you are going to Dominican for a vacation, try to set up a visit to meet Gabi and go to the Batay through Denise or Kevin in the contact information on this webiste. Your life will be forever changed meeting this man who appreciates so much the help that we give for his boys and girls. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” Pastor Gabi is living that order in a big way and is not afraid to tell you all about his dream and vision for these children in his community.
The Abundant Life Charity school was paid a visit by the Minister of Education. Just months after opening their doors, they are able to participate as one in only 5 schools to carry out the Community Satisfaction Survey for the school year.
The charity is dedicated to providing for the growing needs of education, spiritual direction, and the relief of poverty for the children of the Dominican Republic.