Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – Helping Animals Around the World

Name: Rachelle Hernandez
From: Brentwood, NY
Grade: 11
School: Brentwood High School
Votes: 0



July 11th, 2007. 100 degrees. Beads of sweat drip down my
youthful face. The sun was blazing; I could feel its waves, its
vibrations pulsating against the earth, against the general Dominican
populace. I could smell the salami being fried in our small little
house in  . I could hear the sounds of tropical drums and articulate guitar
coming from   around the corner. It was three years after my grandmother’s death;
it felt like forever ago at that moment. But there was one thing that
would not stop bothering me; the appalling treatment of animals in
the country.

As I grew older, I decided to focus and hone my efforts in on helping these animals. I
decided to focus solely on the Dominican Republic because the country
is severely understaffed when it comes to animal care and many
animals are left to roam on the streets with little to no food and
water, in extremely high temperatures. My biggest challenge doing
this is that I was completely alone; when I first began, I would
simply bring animals to my house, feed them, then let them go. I had
another hurdle in that I did not reside in the Dominican Republic. My
idealistic intentions blocked reality and my now fourteen year old
self did not know what to do, until I sat myself down.

When I composed myself, I realized that I had a plentiful amount of resources at my
disposal. My father had built a new bungalow with a spacious yard,
and friends in the Dominican Republic who were willing to help me
with my plight. When I visited in 2015, I was able to organize my
dream. My friends were now staff and would live in the bungalow year
round, with father’s approval; they would take animals in from the
streets and take care of them, after it is ensured by veterinarians
that they are safe. I could call every day to make sure they’re
doing okay, and I visit every summer for a month and I stay with
them. I dedicate over 50 hours a year to this dream of mine. It
doesn’t feel like volunteer work. What makes me more than happy,
more than ecstatic, is knowing that I helped save animals from
starvation, abuse, and death. It may be a juvenile project, but it’s
a dream for the animals. I have learned that planning your own
volunteer project takes a lot of time and connections matter.

I want to change the way people view animals; they are not a hot commodity. And I feel
if I come back many years later, my volunteering would have made a
difference; people already compliment me for what I do and it’s
barely been a year. It’s inherently “forward looking”- my
volunteer program looks into how the present affects the future.
Although my career goals won’t align much with my volunteer work,
as I love writing, my passion for animals will forever stay.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".