Focus on Earth Day in Dominican Republic
For volunteers Ryan Reid and Jon Muller, Earth Day celebrations started early and the whole community got involved.
Weeks of hard work were required to ensure the events' success. Peace Corps volunteers Ryan Reid and Jon Muller organized local leaders and community associations to form local committees in order to give Dominicans the lead role in the planning process. The collaboration resulted in expanding Earth Day into an Earth Week celebration under the central theme of "water conservation." By facilitating local groups, the volunteers assisted three communities to highlight their local environmental issues related to water.
The Earth Day celebration kicked off in the provincial capital, when the local Bishop of the Catholic Church delivered a mass outlining the role that every citizen has in conserving water. A panel discussion followed with local environmental authorities, each of which detailed different water related issues pertinent to the region. Students from local high schools and other citizens participated in a question and answer session with the panelists.
Participants speak at an environmental panel on water issues.
A smaller community hosted the second day's activities. The community lies in a region with no natural water supply. The town of 5,000 people relies on an agricultural canal and cistern trucks that transport water from the lush coastal regions. The town's former mayor outlined the long-time water challenge that the community has endured. Afterward, a local youth group performed a puppet show and demonstrated solar cooking stoves.
Day three of "Earth Week" included several diverse activities, beginning with volunteers leading a group of 60 students in a reforestation activity in the tropical mountains. Students planted trees and then discussed the importance that these trees play in the conservation of the local water supply. In the afternoon, nearly 1,000 townspeople marched through the streets of the municipality carrying signs with conservation messages, with the goal of gathering support for their environmental cause. After, participants made their way in to the "old temple" where they listened to a presentation on water management and an original poem detailing the beauty of the Dominican Republic's water resources. This was followed by a ceremony the awarding the winner of the primary school environmental art contest.
Dominican residents march through town promoting environmental awareness.
On the fourth and final day of activities, celebrations were concluded with an Earth Day gathering in the provincial capital. Government officials and environmental activists delivered speeches while singers and dancers performed original pieces dedicated to the environment. Organic coffee growers, women's groups, and other organizations, converged to support the day's message.
This is the 10th year the Peace Corps has coordinated Earth Day activities in the country. Each year, a new province is selected to be the regional focus for environmental activities and celebrations. This year, Earth Day brought concerned Dominicans together to celebrate in the Southwestern region of the country. In three communities, citizens reflected upon the environment and voiced their preoccupations for one of the most ecologically diverse regions of the island nation. With over 40 non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and community associations involved in this year's activities, the goal of raising awareness of environment issues and setting a standard by which locals can carry on future celebrations surpassed the organizers' expectations.
Last updated Jan 22 2013