Incognito’s commitment to donating 10% of all profits to charity has allowed us to support a rich variety of creative and life-changing projects of all shapes and sizes.
One such project, is a student-led enterprise from the Enactus Edinburgh society. Their project aims to confront the lack of opportunities available to young people in Bombita, a village which sits on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. Their solution? An insect-repellent soap which is made and sold locally to simultaneously tackle challenges of hygiene, insect-borne disease, income and education.
In the first of two guest-blog posts written by Laura; one of the student volunteers, we are introduced to the small village of Bombita, its beauty, eccentricities & charm, and also the challenges and hardships which were to inspire Laura to undertake this project with the Enactus Edinburgh team.
If I were to describe my first experience of Bombita in one one word – departing an over-crowded, dilapidated bus as I said farewell to the middle-age woman with whom I had shared a lap with for the past 6 hours, whilst the audacious orange and red sign marked BOMBITA glared me in the face – it would be foreign. In this particular instant I was beginning to wander if the feat that I had taken on was in fact rather brash. I was seventeen and had newly graduated from secondary school, I had spent the past year and a half fundraising to fly to the Dominican Republic and volunteer as an art teacher and until this point had not once doubted whether or not I was capable of spending 12 months away from my friends and family, never mind learn an entirely new language or control a classroom of 30 finger painting 5 year olds. I could have never anticipated the warmth with which I would be welcomed into the lives of complete strangers and how quickly I would gain a second family in the Dominican Republic.
Bombita has a charm like no other place, I always think that the mixture of music in Bombita sums up it’s bubble and squeak of people in a perfect metaphor. The drums are what give Bombita its authenticity, its Haitian soul. The villagers who still practice voodou celebrate their faith through the thumping of drums which accompany the village through the night. Bombita’s close history with Haiti also makes for an incredibly intelligent group of people, an entire village of people who are completely fluent in two languages and can interchange between both at the flick of a switch – despite the fact that a twenty minute walk out of Bombita would find them at one of the neighbouring villages where they would struggle to find even two people with whom they could share their second language.
The Bachata gives it it’s Latin flavour. Despite maintaining an African influence, Bombita is very much latin; Coffee is drunk as though it is a life source; moving from the same spot between the hours of 12 and 2 must be the consequence of an emergency; your neighbours children are your children and everyone shares from the same pot; and of course, the ability to sway your hips as though they are not connected to any other part of your body is a given.
The songs of worship give Bombita its sense of community. For a village in which you could walk the circumference of in a minute and a half, Bombita has six
different churches. For a community that faces so many problems it is the churches that hold it together, they give people a place to congregate each evening and share their love for each other, babies are passed around, teenagers hold hands with their grandparents without losing street cred and the whole service is taken up with singing so beautiful that it lifts you, no matter how hard your day might have been.
As my twelve months in Bombita drew to a close I knew that more could come of the connections I had made. As much as I had been given a glimpse into all the wonderful aspects of life in Bombita I had also seen the hardships that Bombitians face day to day. Thus, when I joined Enactus last year, I knew that there was something we could do.
In the next post of this two-part series, Laura explains the concerns and challenges faced by those living in Bombita, and tells us more of the project and the sustainable solution her team sought to create.