Palmetto High School senior Alexandra Hazday spent part of her summer digging a trench for a water main for a remote village in the Dominican Republic. She lived and worked there for 12 days, high on the mountain with a view of the ocean.
She went with the Blue Missions organization in a group of 25 students. The organization sends groups of students to remote and poor towns in the Dominican Republic to help them build aqueducts.
“I was the only high schooler. The rest were people in college,” Hazday says.
It was an arduous task – the closest water was about a mile away. She says the villagers would have to go for water six times a day to get enough for their families and their neighbors.
“They had to use buckets and for washing clothes they had to get multiple buckets of water,” she says. “It was an eye opening experience. It was completely worth it. I honestly wish I was there now.”
Although she’s a typical teen with all the required tech devices like smart phones, she enjoyed being away from everything for 12 days.
“No phones,” she says. “Everyone was so happy with so little. The little kids there are the happiest people in the entire world. They have to work so hard and they don’t care at all.”
The group that Hazday was with was only one of many that went to the Dominican Republic with Blue Missions. Several other Palmetto students also worked with Blue Mission, but not on the same trip.
While in the Dominican Republic, the students slept in the school house. They had electricity, but no running water.
“A shower was a plastic bag filled with water,” she says.
Despite the hardships and the manual labor, she loved being there.
“I want to do it again for sure,” she says.
“It was hard. I didn’t know what I was getting into. The first day was quite a shock. I didn’t know anyone. It was a three-hour plane ride and a five-hour bus ride. Our dinner was peanut butter and jelly on hot dog buns. It was such a shock.”
The students worked hard, trenching from the source of water to the houses. However, they did have a chance to sightsee and play with the village children. The agenda included visiting a village that had been provided with water the previous year. They even had a day of fun with the villagers of the town they were working with.
“We went from house to house and told everyone to meet on the green field,” she says. “Every person on the trip brought a bag of candy and we gave that out. We had a magic show. We didn’t play sports, but we hung out with them and took pictures. We found some rope and we played jump rope.”
Now that she’s back at Palmetto High School, Hazday is busy as captain of Variations, the Palmetto dance team. She has been on the team for four years. She’s also the secretary of the Health Information Project, the group that sends juniors and seniors into freshman classrooms to talk about health and issues surrounding health, including, drugs, alcohol and HIV/AIDS. She is also an intern at the HIP head office. Her duties include keeping the website upto- date.
For college, Hazday is applying to all the Florida schools and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While her major is still undecided, she does know that she wants to attend law school after college.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld