By Mike Jiggens
A team of Canadian Nutri-Lawn franchisees returned to the Dominican
Republic in January to continue with their volunteer efforts from a
year ago to help the children of an impoverished region.
The team of 11, including Nutri-Lawn director of operations Jordan Lavin and Toro Company Canadian sales manager Terry Ormrod, constructed a 10,000-square-foot expansion to a soccer field they built last year at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage in San Pedro de Macoris, and planted and irrigated a two-acre fruit tree orchard.
Work began at the soccer field soon after the volunteers arrived. Topsoil was leveled in preparation for the arrival of sod, but, like last year, sodding the field wasn’t a textbook operation.
Entered on Nutri-Lawn’s website was this blog which described the arrival of sod and its subsequent placement:
“We arrived at the orphanage today with plans to complete the extension to the soccer field. When we arrived, the first truck load of sod was there, however, it arrived before we did and, like last year, it was just dumped on the ground off the back of the truck. Fortunately, it appears that the sod guys have invested in a proper sod cutter. The pieces of sod were at least mostly square, although still not the rolls we are used to in Canada. Due to the delay in all the sod arriving, basically they cut the sod, loaded it on the back of the truck and then delivered it. Once off loaded, they go back to the sod farm and cut and load the next load.”
Local Domincans helped complete the sod installation.
The expanded field has helped to accommodate a larger number of children who play weekly games and has also allowed a local junior soccer team to play once a month on the field in exchange for coaching the orphaned children in the sport.
A major project tackled this year was the planting and irrigating of 100 fruit trees in a two-acre orchard. The project, which took one day to complete, was part of an outreach program operated by a group of Brazilian nuns.
The objective of the tree-planting project was to assist in feeding the needy villages—called “bateys”—in the immediate area of the orphanage. It is expected the trees will bear fruit in two years.
Another blog described the bateys:
“At the end of the day (third day) we took a tour of some of the bateys in the area. The bateys are the ‘villages’ created by the sugar cane companies to house the mostly Haitian workers. Most of these villages we built in the ’70s and, while the government is responsible for maintaining these buildings, most of them are in very poor condition with up to 12 family members living, sleeping and eating in rooms no larger than a small living room. Despite the condition, the people living here are very friendly and welcoming, inviting us into their ‘homes’ very graciously. A lot of these rooms have leaking roofs and walls that are crumbling cinder block. What was most interesting for those of us that were here last year was the comparison between the bateys that are near the orphanage, which have benefitted greatly from the volunteer groups that visit the orphanage and work they do in these bateys, and the ones we saw today.”
On the fourth day of the campaign, supplies for the outreach program were taken to the orchard site. The volunteers were invited to sample mandarins already growing at the site which resulted in a minor setback to one member of the group. Toronto Nutri-Lawn franchisee Ryan Vincent was stung on the nose by a wasp when he reached for some fruit from one of the trees which housed a nest.
In addition to the soccer field and fruit tree projects, the team also installed “drip tape” to expand a current yucca crop operation on site.
It wasn’t all work during the January excursion. The volunteers bonded with the locals, putting on a barbecue for about 450 children, many of whom had never held a hotdog before.
Other members of the team were:â€ˆSteve Smith, Halifax; Jody Macinnes, Ottawa; Jesse Montpellier, Ottawa; Shawn Karn, Toronto; Kalon Fairclough, London; Rob Bourne, Vancouver North; Mark Lange, Vancouver North; and Greg Hayes, Vancouver, South.