I Still Have Butterflies

Trying to write a single blog post about an experience like the one we all had is next to impossible. Every person we met, every home we were welcomed into, every smile we put on a kid’s face and every smile they put on ours was enough to change your life…so picking one story to tell isn’t easy, but here it goes.

To preface, 2 years ago my sister and I got butterfly tattoos on our wrists as a symbol of strength. I’ll spare you the personal backstory of the tattoos but butterflies have always held a special meaning to us. One day while shoveling cement mix in Batey 50 a butterfly came out of nowhere and landed directly on me, very close to my tattoo. It felt like a message of reassurance that what we were doing really was bringing strength and hope to the people of Batey 50.

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The messages didn’t stop there. During our day with the kids at Joe Hartman School the little girl I befriended, Roniela, kept pointing to my tattoo and indicating that she wanted it. I tried to tell her (in very broken Spanish) that it’s a permanent part of me and I couldn’t give it to her, but she was so persistent that I finally pulled out a pen and drew one on her wrist. Her eyes lit up and a smile so big came across her face as she pulled my phone out of my hands to take a picture of our matching tattoos. I felt like these tiny inkblots made our one-day friendship into a friendship for life.

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So many parts of this trip touched my heart but these two instances undoubtedly stood out to me. I hope one day I can return to the DR and continue to spread hope and strength as best as I can.

-Justine Holleran

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