In the last 12 months, Mother Nature has made the world pay attention to and respect her power.  While the work accomplished by VISIONS participants is substantial, rarely does it occur in such a dramatic context as last July in the Dominican Republic.  VISIONS’s participants, their staffers, and community members shared a powerful experience after a potent rain storm.  Here is an email that Max Savishinsky, DR program director, sent a few days after the event.
Joanne and Teena, Directors


Hi Jo,

You may or may not know that we were just dragged through the ringer by Hurricane Dennis. Not sure how much of the constant rain that explains, butit has been constant and powerful.

After we destroyed one of the shanties we are rebuilding as a house, we left behind a very tall cinder block wall (at least 25’) that was a retaining wall for the hillside on which this “house” had been built. We stripped it down so that there was nothing left but the back wall and the floor of the house. Then we started clearing and rebuilding. Late Wed. night, the worst of the rains were upon us, fierce downpours, winds and lightning. While we were huddled in Melvin Jones, the retaining wall at the work site gave way and a landslide of thousands of pounds of wet dirt and cinder blocks smothered the entire worksite, and a few days of our own work was lost.

When the family of the house woke up in the morning in their temporary shelter, they found the wreckage, as did our worksite crew when everyone arrived on site to work yesterday. It was day 3 of work for us. The mother of the house took [a staffer’s] hand and walked her over the mud pile to the highest point and told her that this was where her bed used to be, and that right next to it, that of her daughter. While holding her head, she explained that had we not been building her house, and had we not started exactly when we did, she and her family would have been laying in those beds under the mud and rubble at that very moment.

The neighbors and Santos and Lidia were profoundly affected, and there was a lot of talk of ….Divine Providence, coincidence, blessings. People kept saying that VISIONS saved lives this week, although fate and serendipity could obviously take the credit just as well…  Nevertheless, it was a deeply moving thing to experience, and no matter how one might try to explain it, I think that despite the luck and chance in this particular case, the indisputable truth is we are building houses that will withstand the next storm, and the storm after that, and that the work we are doing isn’t leaving things like this – things like people’s lives – up to chance.

— Max