Relocating. No new orders after June 11th.

Trineo de Esperanza 2023


 

Back home in the Dominican Republic, if a kid doesn’t get a present at Christmas, it’s not the end of the world. Santa Claus may not have visited, but hope is not lost. There is still Three Kings Day. This was often our experience as children- “Don’t worry!” Our mother would say, “The three kings will bring you a present.” 

In 2022, we were able to go home to the DR for the holidays, and I was so excited. The kids would experience their first Christmas there, but we would also have the opportunity to prepare the Trineo de Esperanza, or Sleigh of Hope, for the children of the community.  For those who have never experienced this, it is a give-away of used toys and clothes (in this case collected here in Lebanon, NH) to children who have the least.

With the opportunity to be involved in every step of the event, I realized later that while everything had gone according to plan, something was missing. It was the right idea, but it didn’t go far enough. I knew there were kids out there that had not gotten a toy for Christmas.

Years ago, when I finished high school, I got a scholarship. Before starting college, I was given the chance at a weeklong trip to the southwest of the island. The trip changed things for me- it made me appreciate how much I had. If you’ve read my story, you know we didn’t have much, but I was in shock when I saw people in my country- especially those closer to the Dominican/Haitian border-  living under those conditions. That week I learned one of the most important lessons of my life- that I had nothing to complain about. We might have been poor, but we had a lot when compared to the people I saw that week.

So I talked to my sister, Dolores, who organized things on the Dominican end of things, about reaching out to an area outside of our community. We might not be able to prepare it the way we might at home, and we couldn’t do the clowns- but we could surprise some people.

We talked to the locals, who pointed us toward some really remote places, and we eventually settled on 4 places so remote they are almost forgotten- the kind of places politicians love to make promises while campaigning, but forget immediately after the elections. Los 21, El Caimito, El Catey, and El Sitio are far from everything, and difficult to get to by car.

This last holiday season was a scramble. We had so much going on at the end of last year- much of it unexpected- that I didn’t have much time to get the boxes off to the DR, and I definitely didn’t have the kind of time it to collect the donations from our local community that I normally would. But I still had some donations from the year before, and with the help of a neighbor and a good clean-out of my kids closets and toy bins, we got some boxes packed. It was already too late for the boxes to make it there for Christmas, but they’d make it in time for Three Kings Day- barely. It was a close call, but more than 70 toys, and a bunch of clothes got there just in time.

So my sister coordinated with five people in four communities, and found a house central to them all. Those roads are very rough, and very narrow- even the truck my family took to get there barely made it (my sister said the truck next year will have to have a higher clearance) but there were kids who were only able to make it there on horseback. As my sister and her team handed out clothes and toys to kids who received them with such joy and gratitude, they saw the same things I’d seen all those years ago. That most of these families didn’t have electricity, that education in their small school only goes through the fourth grade-  as far as most of them will get, because any further education is too far away.

When my sister saw their reality, she told them, “We’ll be back.” Until you actually see that kind of poverty, it’s impossible to truly understand. When she talked to our neighbors- people who have very little themselves, they told her they could be counted upon to help. I’m hoping to be able to send some food and clothing to these families this spring. What we so easily take for granted means so much. 

Many thanks to the friends, neighbors, and customers who have helped to make the last three years of Trineo de Esperanza possible. May God Bless and Multiply.

Best,

Yani