Recently I was blessed to join fellow travel writers on the inaugural sailing of Carnival Cruise’s new brand called Fathom Travel which offers cruises to the Dominican Republic and Cuba focused on social impact travel. This is an in-depth look at my participation in the “Concrete Floors in Community Homes” impact activity. For my full Fathom Travel experience check out my blog Fathom Travel: Making an Impact on the Dominican Republic & Beyond.
Concrete Floors in Community Homes
In this impact travel activity a group of about 25 of us traveled to the El Javillar community in Puerto Plata where roughly 3,000 people live in poverty. On the bus ride to El Javillar our IDDI guide Lawrence told us that many of the homes in the community have dirt floors. When building their homes, families can only afford to construct them piece-by-piece – a wall, a room, a roof and, if they’re lucky, concrete floors. Families living without cement floors are often plagued by illness caused by unsanitary living environments. Lawrence shared that providing a family with a concrete floor dramatically improves health, but also pride.
When we arrived in El Javillar we met a family in need of floors, took a tour of their home – our new construction site – and got to work. Our group of Fathom Travelers worked with members of IDDI as well as local construction workers to mix the materials needed to make the cement, shovel it into buckets, pass buckets into the house and pour the cement onto the dirt floors.
As we spent hours mixing, shoveling, passing and pouring buckets, members of the community actually dropped by to voluntarily lend us a helping hand. Without being asked, without receiving any compensation for their work, they showed up to simply help their neighbors. During this impact travel activity, it was such a beautiful moment to witness human beings from different cultures and socio-economic statuses working together to lay the groundwork — literally and figuratively — for a home.
Once our group had finished our floor, which takes over 24 hours to dry, we then walked through El Javillar to check on the house the Fathom Travelers had worked on the day before. As we made our way through the neighborhood we were welcomed by every person with a smile, wave and open arms.
When we arrived to the house, the homeowner gave us a tour, her smile radiating with joy. Thankful, proud and honored she expressed how grateful she was for our impact travel service. I was then shocked to learn she was actually the grandma of our IDDI guide Lawrence and that he lived next door. I had no idea Lawrence was actually a member of the community. I later found out that a few months prior, Fathom Travel impact guides had come to his community to pour concrete floors in a nearby house. Lawrence saw what was going on and out of the kindness of his heart pitched in. His hard work ethic impressed the staff and he was soon asked to join Fathom Travel/IDDI as a guide.
Lawrence’s story opened my eyes to how Fathom Travel is truly invested in making a difference in the lives of Dominicans on all possible levels through impact travel. We weren’t there to pat ourselves on the back for doing a “good deed.” We were there to provide hope, opportunity and the groundwork for long-term change.