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Caledon residents embark on aid mission in Dominican Republic


A Bolton woman and Caledon teachers are embarking on a humanitarian mission to the Dominican Republic in the new year.

Several years ago, students from St. Michael Catholic Secondary School in Bolton participated in an annual mission trip to El Seibo, Dominican Republic. The group assisted native Dominicans and the Haitian community there, staying at a missionary centre run by the Daughters of Mary (les Filles de Marie). Also joining them were students and staff from Father Michael Goetz secondary school in Mississauga.

A few have decided to rekindle the mission and are making plans to head back and lend their support.

This mission trip has been a long time waiting, according to Caledon's Michael Gallo.

“In my heart, it is a mission to rejuvenate my soul. Sister Maude (who leads the on-the-ground efforts) is something rare and special to come across. The heart of that community is something that a book, a video or social media clip cannot match. It has been in my heart ever since I left and never returned. I still kept in touch with Sister on the occasion, and just her words would light my heart and soul.

“You knew the minute you met her she had a special light that all of [us] have but just lost at times. 

“This trip is about going back to reconnect and continue to help sisters mission to serve others.”

Lexie Hesketh-Pavilons, a St. Mike's graduate, went on the mission every year during high school. She is currently taking her Master of Disaster and Emergency Management (MDEM) at York University.

“I am returning to Sister Maude and her community to offer my help in any way possible,” she said. “I miss it there, and it would be incredible to witness how or if things have changed, and to be apart of supporting any further needs.”

To help raise funds for the trip (100% of proceeds donated to the effort), Lexie is holding a yoga event (by donation) on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 at Healthletica in Bolton. To reserve a spot, visit

“I am happy to be able to use my yoga training as a way to fundraise and share my passion for yoga and helping others at the same time,” she said.

There's also a GoFundMe page for the trip at

Ursula Cybulko, the former chaplain at St. Mike's, organized this reunion mission. 

“We want to continue to build the relationships that we began from our first mission,” she said. “We want to see how we can continue to support the work that Sister Maude is doing. We also want to introduce new people to the experience of mission work. Poverty is global, it's in our backyards and it's within us. When we connect through ‘poverty' we can get a better understanding of our purpose in this life. They help us with our ‘poverty' as we engage in their ‘poverty.' This is what calls us back.”

The situation on the island nation of Hispaniola is unique. It's a case of the poor (Dominicans) oppressing an even poorer neighbour (Haitians). While the Dominican Republic enjoys certain economic and tourism income, Haiti remains impoverished (rated as the poorest country in the Americas). Conditions there were exacerbated by the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 that left more than 300,000 dead and 1.6 million homeless. The country has yet to recover from this disaster.

Many Haitians have moved to the Dominican in search of a better life, yet it's all within a developing nation, and there are limitations on Haitian immigration.

Though long known for sugar production, the DR's economy is now dominated by services. Unemployment, government corruption, and interruptions in electricity remain major Dominican problems. The country also has noticeable income inequality. International migration affects the Dominican Republic as it receives and sends large flows of migrants. Haitian immigration and the integration of Dominicans of Haitian descent are major issues.

Post date: 2023-11-16 11:23:49
Post date GMT: 2023-11-16 16:23:49
Post modified date: 2023-11-23 13:23:42
Post modified date GMT: 2023-11-23 18:23:42
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