By Nadia Arandjelovic
Budding sailors have successfully completed the adventure of a lifetime with the Bermuda Sloop Foundation.
Twenty-seven youngsters and a 52-year-old arrived back to the Island on Saturday after taking part in an exciting humanitarian and adventure project in the Dominican Republic.
They were greeted by a mass of screaming friends and family who held signs and balloons welcoming them back from their journey aboard the Spirit of Bermuda.
Proud mom Josie Richardson, whose 15-year-old daughter Shai took part in the programme, said she was excited and emotional witnessing the homecoming.
“This is her fourth voyage and her second internationally. It’s just that each time seeing her go the maturity level increases and I see her become more of an individual.
“She has become more secure in herself and realises that she is her own person and doesn’t have to go along with a crowd just to fit in. I am just so proud.”
Mother Yolanda Richards welcomed son Kamaran Knights Fubler, 14, back. She said: “I am obviously proud of him. He is also a Sea Cadet so sailing is what he loves to do so this opportunity was great for him.”
Foundation director Nalton Brangman said of all the sails the Spirit had done this “by far was the most significant”.
“We set a very detailed series of goals to be accomplished from humanitarian and building homes for those less fortunate to giving multiple stop destinations for them to sail.”
He said the participants learned what life was like in the olden days they sailed with no wind for three days and lived without plumbing or electricity while in the Dominican Republic. To see the team arrive back to the Island in good shape and great spirits was rewarding, he said, adding: “We are immeasurably pleased.”
The participants were split into two groups on June 5. One flew from Bermuda to the Dominican Republic where they built a house from the foundation up; the second made the journey with the Spirit to the Caribbean island, making a brief stop in the Turks and Caicos.
The first group, which included teenagers aged 13 to 17, started construction on two homes one for a mother with eleven children and the second for her daughter, who also has a family.
“The family is the envy of the village because it is a concrete block house. A lot of the other people have wooden houses, so it’s considered to be special when you actually have a house made out of concrete,” said Denise Riviere, the foundation’s chief operating officer.
In between time spent on the building project, the young people enjoyed sightseeing and adventure activities. The second group continued the construction work started by the first group, and flew back to Bermuda once it was done. The participants in the second group were mostly between the ages of 16 and 22. They also helped a family in Salt Cay in the Turks and Caicos fix their roof with Bermuda limestone.
Ms Riviere said she was extremely pleased with what the participants had accomplished.
“I am really proud because they have really had to step out of their element. You go from a place where you have the luxury of air conditioning to a place with no electricity or plumbing.
The opportunity was not without some difficulty. Participants had to work in extremely hot conditions in this case they helped construct the homes in muddy terrain.
While on-board the Spirit of Bermuda they had to do without their cell phones, iPods and other technologies and eat well-balanced meals, instead of sugary snacks and drinks.
Ms Riviere said the programme aimed to get participants to see the differences between cultures and give them a better appreciation for what they have in Bermuda.
For pictures and more information visit the foundation’s Facebook page.