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Making a difference
Yellowknife man returns from humanitarian trip in the Dominican Republic

Adrian Lysenko
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, May 29, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - When Dane Mason helped build a home for a displaced Haitian family in a town bordering the earthquake ravage country in neighbouring Dominican Republic he wondered if he committed a cultural faux pas.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dane Mason, left, Erika Wall and Candace Seddon, (second last on the right) standing with the Haitian family outside their newly built house in Agua Negra, Dominican Republic in April. - photo courtesy of Dane Mason

"The wife started to cry," Mason said when they brought the family groceries, using left over funds from construction of the home.

Part of a team of 21 people, Dane Mason travelled to Agua Negra located near the Haitian border at the beginning of April.

Mason, along with Northerners Erika Wall and Candance Seddon, both from Inuvik, and 18 others from Nova Scotia helped build the home for a family of twelve Haitians living in Agua Negra. Previously the family was living in a dirt floor shack that flooded every time it rained.

When the mother began to cry, Mason said they brought over a translator and the women explained how her children had been going up to three days without food and crying themselves to sleep because of their hunger.

"The mood was good ...considering the circumstances," said Mason.

"People are genuinely happy with what we would call next to nothing."

Mason helped construct a new health clinic as well. The group delivered roughly $30,000 worth of medical supplies to stock the clinic and also paid doctorís wages for the first month.

Ongoing staff wages will be covered under Servantís Heartís annual budget, non-profit missionary organization.

The team estimates 500 people per month will have access to medical care at the clinic.

Mason, Wall and Seddon managed to raise over $10,000 to contribute to the project.

The project was co-ordinating by a Canadian church-based organization called Cornerstone Assembly from Truro, N.S.

This was Mason's third humanitarian trip in the Dominican Republic in the last four years.

"It's a shock the first time," said Mason.

"You meet kids and next time they'll likely be dead."

He said that people tend to have the misconception that people in living in this type of poverty are lazy whereas they don't have the resources to better themselves.

"We made lots of new new friends," said Mason who is wanting to enlist more people for his trip next year.

"The more bodies we bring down the better."

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