Senior’s summer trip brings global issues to light

Kaitlyn Tacdol, Online Editor

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     The Dominican Republic is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but the allure of clear blue water and white sandy beaches tends to overshadow the country’s impoverished residents. Thankfully, outreach organizations and volunteers, such as Senior Asher McPherson, are ready to help with open arms. McPherson began her summer participating in a missionary trip to the Dominican Republic with Gateway Church. 

     For eight days, she and countless other groups were roaming around Santiago de los Caballeros, the location of the church’s associate organization, Mission of Hope’s new campus.

     “Our goal was to spread the gospel and serve others,” McPherson said. “We would go into the communities to see what the needs of the people were [like] how accessible water is or medical care and [home life is] and how many people lived in homes.”

     From Monday to Thursday, McPherson met countless people in need. Most just answered her questions and shut the door, but on Tuesday she met a Haitian refugee named Minooshka who lived with her son. She opened Asher’s eyes to the everyday struggle of refugees.

     “A lot of people we were working with immigrated from Haiti because Haiti is in such poverty that people try to move to DR to find a better life, get a job, and provide a better life for their kids,” McPherson said. “[Minooshka] moved from Haiti while her daughter is still there. That’s the case for all the families we saw, they have kids in Haiti while they’re in DR, working.”

     Because of the influx of Haitian refugees moving to the Dominican Republic, McPherson expressed how there’s been a rise in tension and racism there, which is contributing to the rise in poverty. 

     “[Refugees] can’t get jobs because they don’t have visas or the paperwork they need [for visas],” McPherson said. “They also can’t get married because they don’t have the paperwork they need.” 

     The group of missionary workers learn this information from Minooshka herself, expressing her struggles to people who she thought would help. She began to cry when she expressed how she moved to the Dominican Republic for a better life but instead she was greeted with racism and obstacles that prevented her from that better life. 

     “[At her house], she was crying and her son was there in the corner because they didn’t have any furniture or A/C,” McPherson said. “In Haiti, they had sticks and bricks but DR still isn’t good.”

     Since this was a missionary trip, the group asked if Minooshka wanted to accept Jesus into her heart, and she did. So they invited her to the church they were working with later in the day, and usually the people they invite never go. 

     “We were all sitting in a circle, telling stories, and then we saw her,” McPherson said. “For her to come and get involved in that community is just awesome. Us being there actually affected her life.”

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