MLK Day of Service at Oasis

On January 20th, Oasis Católico hosted a site for the annual MLK day of service. Several groups from the community came together help clear the soccer field, paint the building, and build new trenches at Oasis. All of the projects completed that morning made the playground and building safer for the children. At the beginning of the application process, we asked that a service site be held at our site of Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela. We stated that the volunteers would paint and do construction work on the buildings of the facility that have worn down. They would also help in cleaning around the area’s land. For example, landscaping and evening out land. This would require hard manual labor. The ground is very uneven and is eroding. This is causing many safety hazards to the children during their time of recess. The children love to play soccer, but are unable to do so due to the uneven and eroding land.
Once granted the opportunity to make this project a reality we began to work. The project was meant to make the overall place a safer and more beautiful area for the kids, especially the children who love to play soccer but did not have a safe area to do so. The volunteers began showing up around 8 a.m. ready to work. Sr. Margarita, the Executive Director of Oasis Católico, gave them great beginning instructions and motivation before the project began. Once everyone was ready and assigned a specific task, whether it be painting, digging or clearing an area, everyone began to work.
After three hours of fun, work, interaction, and making a difference in the lives of the families and children of the community, a vast area was cleared for soccer playing, the main building was repainted, and a few ditches were fixed and cleared for safe water flow.
After the physical labor part of making a difference was finished, we all gathered again to speak and comment on what had been learned from the experience and what comments or concerns everyone had on the overall project. We had many different responses. The responses were as follows:
“I never knew that there was so much need in this area. I just came because someone told us about it, and we thought it would be great to help out. I never really knew much about this center, but now I know. I will post info and do more to get you guys more help and resources out here.” – UGA Presbyterian Center Campus Minister
“I really learned that there are many ways to serve the community today. Also, I really liked how there were teams and we could choose which team we wanted to be on, and that we could alternate and experience everything.” – (Sorority chair)

“I honesty did not think that it was going to work out. I looked at the valley area and told my friend Komran that are hopes were too high, but then all of a sudden everyone began working together and it happened. It was truly amazing and unbelievable. I can’t wait to get to play soccer with the kids.” – Cristian ( Project H.O.P.E.)
“I am an art major, so painting is what I love to do, and I was really excited to finally get to do it to help the community instead of just for class.” – Meredith (Project H.O.P.E)
“I know that I am going to be really sore tomorrow, but as long as the project was a success and the children get to play, I am happy. I would even do it all over again.”- Lina (Lab Group)

These were the responses that we received from our volunteers of various groups. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream”, speech he stated, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” After the project that was conducted in his honor for the benefit of our community we can truly say that his dreams have become a reality since various organizations, ethnicities, and cultures came together to make sure that the children at Oasis have a safe environment for learning and feeling welcome. The organizations were, UGA’s Project H.O.P.E., Klonowski Lab, Catholic Center, and the Presbyterian Center from UGA. Dreams and goals were truly accomplished during this project.
Elizabeth Morales-Ramos, who wrote this article, is a student volunteer at Oasis Católico in Athens.