Volunteer Spotlight: Marc in Dominica
I’m young and have a long life to live, but this has set the course for me
My name is Marc Ristol, I’m from Barcelona, Spain. I’ve been here over a month and a half now. After being here for a month and a half, the work has exceeded my expectations by far. The work that we’re doing here is unique, all the skills I’ve gotten to learn, and all the incredible people I’ve gotten to meet from all over the world.
Perhaps what I value the most, is the fact I’ve gotten to emerge myself into a culture, that I had no idea about, living with them, and sharing stories with them. One thing I’ve valued here on my days off, is the opportunity to hitchhike. Every time we’ve gone somewhere on days off or of an evening when we’re not on site, we’ve tried to hitchhike… Usually, it’s not a way of getting around that people would feel comfortable with, but here in Dominica, it’s commonly known as being safe, and the locals only want to help you get you where you need to go. I like this, partly because of money, but mainly because you get the chance to meet a local, I would sit in the front of the car and we would start talking about politics, or economics, and start comparing our two different countries. Sharing these kinds of moments is where I perhaps got to see the true Dominica and really live in the moment.
I got the opportunity to sit down with some locals in the village we’re working in, and they shared a few stories about where they lived, and what the night of Hurricane Maria was like… goosebumps, I had so many goosebumps. All the pain and all the terror they lived through with the aftermath, really gives you a sense of purpose for why we’re here doing what we’re doing…why we’re here mixing all this concrete…why we’re here building a school, and it really builds up an intrinsic motivation that nothing else can. And for me, the community has really reached out and become so much closer since the hurricane, and become a lot more cohesive.
When I walk around the village, I feel a sense of family… people I’ve known for such a short length of time, suddenly have such a strong place in my heart. It’s like I’ve known them for years. Being here, developing a school that got wrecked, is very meaningful. Before I came to Dominica, I knew I wanted to get involved with working in different countries, and environmental protection, and coming here working with an NGO has confirmed this for me. I’m experiencing this from both sides, from the social aspect… getting to protect people that perhaps are not in the same quality of living conditions as I am being from Europe, but just being there for them, and then from the environmental perspective, seeing such a beautiful island, such a pristine, joyous island in the middle of the Caribbean, almost untouched…wow, it has really made me realize there is so much in this world that we need to protect and so much more that can be done.
Small steps is what it will most likely take, but I think we as a group of people here helping, have a lot we can offer and also learn from the people of Dominica. When I think back to the life I live when I’m back home, it sometimes feels like another world. It’s a really strange feeling, waking up in a country day by day, that feels so natural and so much like home, but really I’m still so alien too. These people experienced something so terrible, and I’ll never be able to truly grasp the level of fear or emotion they feel, or be able to understand what watching the trees blowing in the wind, or the water levels rising really reminds them of, or even hearing of another storm or bad weather approaching the island might make them feel like.
I just hope that with us being here, and being part of the community, we might be able to reinstall some faith, faith that good things can come from something so unfortunate. If anyone asked me to describe my experience volunteering and living here, I would tell them, it’s been a blessing. I’m young, and have a long life to live, but this has set the course for me, there’s a piece of me which keeps growing day by day, and moment by moment, it’s extremely enriching.