On February 7, 2014, Rotarians from Whitby escaped the frigid grip of winter and flew to the Dominican Republic for an unforgettable week of experiences.  This group of twenty individuals included members from both of the Whitby Rotary Clubs as well as a number of spouses and friends.   

This trip offered the opportunity to combine the volunteer efforts of distributing food, clothing and school supplies with a two day hike to the peak of the tallest mountain on the island, Pico Duarte.



On Saturday the folks that were planning to hike Pico Duarte, affectionately known as the “Loco Rotos” departed after lunch on their “luxury” bus for the three hour trip to the Base Camp. LOL!

The balance of the Rotarians, under the guidance of Bob “Roberto” Jarvest, sorted the shoes, clothing and other donations for distribution to the needy people in the bateys located in the sugarcane fields surrounding the town of Consuelo.

Volunteer activities included the sorting and packing of bags of food, distribution of the food and clothing and shoes as well as school supplies.

On Tuesday night the “Loco Rotos” returned from their grueling journey, looking for a hot shower and a refreshing beverage, or two.  Although they were tired, sweaty and sore, their spirits were strong. They shared an incredible challenge as a team, overcame many obstacles and endured.

The volunteer tasks on Wednesday and Thursday included more distribution of food, clothing and shoes as well as some “sweat equity” at the Seniors Centre in San Lucas.  With shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows the team levelled and graded the caliche surrounding the Seniors Centre.  One of the caretakers at San Lucas took pity on our efforts and offered the use of a pick to break up the cement-like mounds of caliche.  We gained new appreciation for those who spend every day working in the hot sun.

Lunch on Thursday at the La Roma provided the group the opportunity to meet with Kimberly and Fernando and their mothers.  Both of these children are afflicted with a disease known as “Brittle Bones” disease. It is a congenital bone disorder characterized by brittle bones that are prone to fracture.  Kimberly has had a number of surgeries sponsored by the Rotary Club of  Whitby Sunrise and is now able to walk.  Fernando will be undergoing his first treatments/ surgeries this spring. 

It was incredible week of memorable experiences:

Joy in the eyes of a young girl that has a new dress and a pair of panties

Laughter of little children during a boisterous game of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”

Climbing a mountain, facing incredible hardship and pushing thru the pain

Gratitude in a mother’s voice for the surgeries that allow her child to walk

Sadness for those who have so little and yet still have a smile

Memories of tears, fellowship and heart for all those who gave and received.

Written by Mark Wittgen