|©2012 Fundacion Mahatma Gandhi. Las Terrenas, Samaná Province, Dominican Republic.
Legalmente incorporada bajo las leyes de la República Dominicana (2012). RNC 430-125-997.
"Be the change
you wish to see
in the world"
Thirteen people, 12 students and 1 staff, from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University
(CSB/SJU) arrived on Monday, March 16, 2008 for the first Service Trip in the history of Las Terrenas and the first
for CSB/SJU in the Caribbean. The group appears above on Playa Las Ballenas, half a mile from their lodge.
This historic trip was the result of hard work by students and staff at CSB/SJU, including lots of fundraising events.
Departing from Minneapolis, MN, the group first flew to New Jersey and then to Puerto Plata, on the northern coast
of the Dominican Republic. After a scenic 3-hour bus trip they arrived in Las Terrenas on the Atlantic Coast of the
This CSB/SJU service trip focused on the construction of a small, ecological playground for children under 8 years
of age, next to the Anacaona Library (which in 2008 was at another location). All masonry, carpentry, painting,
gardening and landscaping took place in the morning and in the afternoon the volunteers facilitated creative
activities for the children.
This small but meaningful project provided the community with its first open access playground. No small feat
and one of historic proportions for our Foundation and for the community. Many thanks to the CSB/SJU group led
by students Natalia Calderon & Tena Rytel and staff JJ Trotta.
Why Service Trips
Las Terrenas is a town of 20,000, facing the Atlantic Ocean and offering some of the best beaches in the
Caribbean. In the last 10 years the town has grown tremendously with approximately 5,000 foreign-born
residents from more than 15 nationalities, offering gourmet restaurant, hotels and experiences. And next to nice
tourism projects and development there is abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy and rampant prostitution, among other
FMG's service opportunities in this community help bring together three relevant components: FMG's
mission to better the quality of life of people, the volunteers' culturally respectful intentions to serve and the
local needs in a variety of settings.
While volunteers might want to get a good sense of accomplishment from their service time some of the local
needs may escape the scope of short-term trips; however, the contributions that volunteers make are invaluable
and may help start something, continue something started by someone else or help provide a possibility of
change for the better in unexpected ways. In any instance we are grateful for the time, resources and good
intentions as we work for justice and peace in Las Terrenas.
We see ourselves as creating opportunities for personal growth. When a volunteer opens a book for a child,
helps him or her read or complete a course assignment, assist in doing art work or a craft, a magical moment is
created whose impact may linger endlessly. The child or youth will most likely remember the quality of the
interaction, the exposure to an unknown world or context (your own), and will also dream about what's possible
that is nor readily available in the family and/or community contexts.
Volunteers help create environments in which magic is possible and dreaming is part of growing up.
Creativity, talents, energy and interest level are the main determinants of what might be possible. As examples,
participants in this project may select from (or a mixture of) the following possibilities:
- Individual or small group. If you’re fluent in Spanish you may work directly with children 6-15 one-on-one or in
small groups, doing art projects, fostering self-esteem in a variety of ways, and involving them in small
community projects or activities at the Biblioteca Comunitaria Anacaona, the only library in town. If you don’t
know the language we will try to pair you up with a bilingual person and do this or any of the following.
- Building a playground. Volunteers can help secure funds to build a small playground at the local public school
or at the Foundation’s library. Come prepare to mix concrete, lay blocks and sweat and toil under the sun (as
well as landscaping and painting).
- Soccer camps. Teach small groups of boys and girls how to kick the ball while working as a team and
developing better motor skills. Take a time to also chat about the meaning of physical health, self-esteem,
sports and good study habits.
- Environmental education. Teaching kids in public and private schools, participating in clean-up projects in
creeks, roads and beaches, designing garbage cans, creating community flower gardens or just walking the
town promoting a green agenda.
- The elderly. Visit the elderly in town, give massages, spend time with them, cook for them, help clean up or
paint their homes, bring a little present to leave behind and share your music, smiles, stories, family pictures,
your dreams and a piece of your heart.
- Sexual workers. Get to know the “Sanky-Pankies,” informal sexual workers that cater to foreigners.
Participate in activities that teach them about prevention from sexually-transmitted diseases, self-esteem and
basic personal growth while getting to know the root causes of a social condition that is often the only source of
income, food, room and security for hundreds of people in this community.
- Girl sports. Take a group of girls and teach them how to swim, play volleyball or soccer, how to take care of
their bodies, eat well, exercise and build their self-esteem.
- English tutoring. Help students from private and public schools with their academic work, either English
learning or any other academic subject. If not teaching English you need to know enough Spanish.
- The illegal immigrant experience. There are hundred of illegal Haitian immigrants in Las Terrenas most of
whom work in construction. They tend to be poorly educated, live in group housing and remain separate from
the Dominican community. They often suffer discrimination, abuse, racism and other types of oppression and
some of them also work as sexual workers, particularly the younger women. You’ll get to know their
experiences, living and social conditions while looking for ways to alleviate their condition any way you can.
- Professional development. Help facilitate workshop and training opportunities for professionals in any field.
- Music. Teach a musical skill, start a choir, teach dance lessons.
- The sky is the limit! We welcome your ideas and suggestions. What matters most is what's best for all
If you want to plan a trip kindly complete the form at left. Thanks.
FMG provides opportunities for college and university students to come to Las
Terrenas on service trips. The program brings together three relevant components:
FMG's mission to better the quality of life of people, the volunteers' culturally
respectful intentions to serve, and the local needs in a variety of settings.