Have you been watching the weather news? For several weeks now rather steady rains have been pounding much of the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. As expected, the result is plenty of flooding in the low lying towns along the coast and even the lower elevations in larger cities like Santiago. Last estimates I saw were that over 20,000 people were displaced from their homes. While some expats were directly impacted, far more locals took the brunt of the floods. Here is just a very small example of what these people are up against.
Which brings me to my topic of the day.
Retirement for many Americans and Canadians is the start of the end. Many have worked hard all their lives and achieved and passed their peak levels of success and satisfaction. Too many also find in retirement that their health and energy erodes as their purpose and goals fade. For some, the light at the end of the tunnel begins to fade into fear of the unknown. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way….
As we look around at expats that have chosen the North Coast of the Dominican Republic we see all kinds of retirees and other expats. While there are some that have come here to run out the clock, there are many more that have come to experience a new life full of adventure and to make a difference in the lives of the people around them. There is so much good that the typical American or Canadian can do for the people and the economy in the DR without breaking the bank. This is one place where even the simplest of actions, combined with a good heart, can make a real difference. For many retirees and other expats this kind of refocus can rejuvenate and add fulfilling years to their lives.
Let me share just a few examples of people we have met along the way that are making the most of their time in their newly adopted homes here on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic….
First, let’s mention Leon Alter, a Canadian expat that settled in the Sosua/Cabarete area. Leon started out advising communities and expats about ways to improve security and safety. This mission quickly evolved into a real serious endeavor to help communities in a wide variety of needs.
For example, when the floods just hit the North Coast, dislodging over 20,000+ lower income Dominicans, Leon and the great ILASA organization went to work finding ways to help the displaced people. He arranged for 90,000 pounds of clothing to be shipped from Miami to the victims of this tragic flooding. What is most amazing to me about this is that Leon was able to tap his contacts to get the entire 90,000 pounds of clothing and the shipping to the DR for only $4,000 in contributions. That was an amazing 2,200 pounds of clothing for a contribution of only $100. That is the kind of ingenuity that our expats can bring to benefit the people in this region.
This same group teamed up with Nick Ott in the US to salvage and ship down firetrucks, school buses and emergency vehicles from the US and Canada to serve the various communities on the North Coast. Most of us from the US and Canada take for granted that our towns are equipped with state of the art fire fighting equipment, ambulances and school buses. But this is definitely not the case in many smaller communities on the North Coast where government funds are few and far between. This group took on the challenge and are working hand-in-hand with the leadership of the Dominican Air Force to solve this problem by salvaging firetrucks, ambulances, school buses and even trash disposal vehicles to ship to the North Coast.
While the typical expat may not be quite so ambitious as Leon in their humanitarian projects, there is still plenty of good an expat can do in some of the lesser endowed communities on the North Coast. I bet if you were here you could easily find something good to do too, whether for the victims of the flooding, or in helpng local government officials improve infrastructure or even helping other expats settle in to a new home away from home. There is plenty of good to do.