Fans of our Escape Velocity series can only begin to fathom the horror el' Presidente experienced when, while taxiing along an airport tarmac in the Dominican Republic, the overhead announcement was made that Captain Hector would be piloting his return flight to the States. Our first in command felt a wave of panic; a cold sweat begin to form on his brow -- would he, in some ironic Hollywood-worthy twist of plot, really meet his fate at the hands of Captain Hector?!
For those who have not had the misfortune of meeting Captain Hector, he is featured in the Escape Velocity series as an airborne nuisance for unregistered shareware users. Of course, the character is based around our office's very (ahem) vocal African Grey, Hector D. Byrd. A mainstay of our office's foyer, the parrot has been with Ambrosia longer than most of our employees ... and shows no signs of calling it quits any time soon (African Greys can live 40+ years in captivity!).
Hector can certainly be offensive -- often screeching at visitors, and throughout random moments of intense focus -- and (as those who follow her TwitterFeed will tell you) she has a tendency to be precociously sinister. According to Andrew, it was around the time that good old Captain Hector announced their cruising altitude that he came to grips with the fact that, had our very own Hector learned to fly free, there was a good chance the charity mission he was returning from could be his last!
Needless to say, el' Presidente did land safe and sound, albeit a little shaken, home in Rochester. Along with the Hector anecdote, he returned with an equally incredible tale of a small village in the Dominican Republic.
Several years ago, a project caught Andrew's eye that seemed a perfect fit for Ambrosia. As a company, we have done our best to stay socially aware -- among other things, we're transitioning as much as possible to paperless business; we recycle; and, as I'm sure I will discuss in a later post, we participate in the local Adopt-A-Highway program. This undertaking, organized by the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation (CFCF), is consciousness on a much larger scale. This non-profit organization has taken under it's wing a small rural village in the Dominican Republic and, over the past decade, has worked in partnership with various private organizations to not only vastly improve the quality of life for these people, but to provide the tools and knowledge they need to remain sustainable.
Bonao was a heavily exploited mining village, largely forgotten about by its government. Roads leading to the village were often drown out in the rainy season, villagers fetched water from a river, and the children began their adult reality as farmers at a very young age. The CFCF, in partnership with the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral (IDDI), has funded major roadway projects, helped establish wells for clean drinking water, and has even brought solar power to this once off-the-grid village. Perhaps the most ambitious project of this organization has been the building of a school system for the children of Bonao. The school teaches not only the standard 3R's we know so well in America; but sustainable agriculture, such as farming fish and cultivating banana plantations -- the fruits of which (no pun intended) they enjoy at lunch time.
Ambrosia, for our part, provide Bonao's high school with a computer lab. Since it's opening in 2005, our company has paid for the entirety of the lab, giving kids access to the Internet and a whole world of technology that they would otherwise not be exposed to. The goal of this project is to assist the children of the village in keeping pace with our rapidly globalizing planet.
Andrew has made several trips to the village, including the opening of the school in 2004. In 2006, he and his wife Polly ventured down for a little arts and crafts time, where the two of them taught Origami to some of the kids. Before boarding Captain Hector's plane, our chief of staff was down in the Dominican Republic again to extend his congratulations to the school's very first graduating class. He was joined by other members of the Foundation and (as is, of course, so typical for the one who dubs himself el' Presidente) rubbed elbows with some rather prestigious folk; including the Vice President of the Dominican Republic!
Of the school's 25 graduating students, 21 had scholarships to continue their education at various schools and trade-schools -- not bad for a village that was, in the recent past, unreachable for months at a time!
To learn more about the CFCF, or initiatives in Bonao, check out their website.
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