Going on Faith

JUN-JUL 2016

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ june | july 2016 ] 16 FATHOM CRUISES BLEND SIGHTSEEING & SERVICE Courtesy Fathom T ara Russell calls her new cruise line, Fathom, "unlike anything that has ever been done before." From what I have experienced, she is onto something. This spring I sailed with Adonia on its second cruise to the Dominican Republic as a guest of Fathom and Islands in the Sun Cruises and Tours. Aboard a Fathom cruise, travelers to the Dominican Republic have the opportu- nity to take part in people-to-people experiences, volunteer in what Fathom calls "impact activities" or get out and enjoy exploring Amber Cove and Puerto Plata, the capital of the Dominican province of the same name. Fathom focuses on "alongsidedness," wherein the cruise line works in partner- ship with Dominican-based organizations Entrena and IDDI to improve conditions and achieve goals set by the community. When booking an impact cruise with Fathom, guests can choose to take part in various volunteer activities, including working at Chocal, a local cacao factory, or Repapel, a women's recycling co-op, making water filters to help local families gain access to clean water; doing reforestation activities; teaching English; or pouring cement floors to help build houses in the community. While there, my husband, Graham, and I volunteered to teach English in San by A S H L E Y R I C K S Marcos. The impact activity focuses on this community in particular because it is the poorest area in the province, and much of the student population is considered at risk because of the level of poverty . When we got to the school, we were introduced to the English teacher, Elberto, who welcomed us and brought us to the library where we would be interacting with the students. We worked alongside Susan Evenson, another member of our group, with two fourth-grade girls, Zola and Chelina. The five of us practiced pronouncing and singing the alphabet. Between teaching sessions, everyone took a break for the kids to have recess. We went outside only to be swarmed by children running up to us, wanting us to take pictures and play games. At one point, I felt something crash full-force into my leg. When I looked down to see what it was, I found that a sweet little girl, who was maybe 5 years old, had run into me to give me a hug, only to dash over to Graham and all the other members of our group to do the same. It was amazing to me how excited the kids were to have us helping them. It didn't matter to them that we were in a school with no electricity or air conditioning; they were excited to learn and to meet new people. In addition to the impact activities, Fathom offers a wide variety of shore excur- Ashley enjoying some fresh coconut from a street vendor in Puerto Plata. Facilitated by Fathom, volunteers help teach children English in local schools. Photo by Graham Ricks

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