Dana, another a business volunteer from my swear -in group, invited us during our sector portion of the COS conference to come out the following Friday for the inauguration of a basketball court in her community. She had worked with her community and Courts for Kids, is non profit organization that works with economically disadvantaged communities to build sporting areas, in order to build a basketball half court that could double as a volleyball court (although I hope no one dives for a ball on the concrete).
Dana lives in a small batey (a community originally developed for sugar cane production) in the San Pedro area of the Dominican Republic. Through another NGO, the community does have concrete housing and a community center.
Through a lot of work on Dana’s part and her community members, the area and initial steps for the court were prepared for the week the Americans’ came. Courts for Kids sends down a group of highschool students or adults to work for week making the court. Usually it is a pre-established sporting team, however, in this case there was an invitation for anyone adult who wanted to participate.
I arrived Friday afternoon, after hearing that the welder did not show up at 8 am as he was supposed to. Luckily he did show up around the time I got there 3 or 4. The court was not finished when I got there and so I got to see the process of how to make a backboard, it was a slab of plywood when I got there. I also got to see the precision that went into painting the lines and the center court in an imitation of the Dominican flag. Although Dana told us the celebration was to be at 4:30 pm, unsurprisingly it was not. I think it was almost 11 when everyone gathered and Dana said thanks for all the cooking, networking, physical labor that the community had done, by reading off the many tasks and calling all those who participated to stage to celebrate. After that, the community said their thanks to Dana, who I will say did a lot of work to get this to happen and it was not all smooth sailing. Then the Americans showed and gave out the things they had brought as donations, shirts, jerseys, balls (that even Michael our Assistant Program Director helped blow up), and sweatbands. Finally music was put and there was dancing. Around midnight some of those very dedicated Americans decided to finish up the painting.
These are the pictures that seemed best to share, but it was easier to leave them at the end instead of trying to fit in with the text. The words written on the court say “In the union is the strength”.
And now it is not in a cornfield, but next to sugarcane. And it is not baseball, but volleyball and basketball. But they did use it while the paint was still wet. And some where on it until 4 am. The next morning when the balls were brought out it was soon populated. So they did indeed come.