There are moments in our lives that impact the way we think, act, react, and go about our daily tasks. Past experiences teach us lessons for today and heart touching events change the way we live in the moment.

I have always wanted to be apart of something larger than my comfort zone, but would have never of thought that would be with Healing Waters on a trip to the Dominican Republic.

For me, this trip was one of those life altering events.


We embarked on this trip as complete strangers, and ended up as lasting friends. We may have only been in the Dominican Republic for 3 full days, but the kids and people we met along the way and the conversations we had with each other will last a lifetime.

Follow along as I take you through the 3 days that have changed my life forever.

It all started with the simple answer of … YES!


Yes… I will go on a trip to the Dominican Republic with Healing Waters to see their mission and impact firsthand.

Yes.. I will learn how the water filtration systems in place work, how they impact the lives of many, decrease the rate of disease and death due to water related illnesses, and…

absolutely YES.. I will play with the children, hold the babies, interact with the women and be in the moment each and every second.

Doesn’t every life altering event first begin with a YES?


Day 1: Learned about Villa Hermosa and handed out fliers for the Health Fair

We visited the area of Villa Hermosa which is made up of mostly Haitian people who have fled from their native land. The majority of them do not speak or understand English, but that didn’t stop us from sharing our life with these wonderful people or breaking that language barrier with a whole lot of love.


Healing Waters is not only a supplier of clean water, they also educate and equip the women and children with health and hygiene knowledge to ensure they can live out a healthier life with the clean water they are provided.

This is extremely important for the leader of the program, Claire, as she is the one that takes the girls under her wing to show them proper ways of using the water for all areas of health. Claire, is the daughter of a pastor here in Villa Hermosa, and together they have created a cornerstone of wellness and safety for their community.


As we walked throughout the village to hand out fliers for the Health Fair, this beautiful young girl did not let go of my hand. The sweat from the heat of the DR couldn’t even nudge this sweet little hand from my palm.

The children’s openness and vulnerability was unbelievable. Their pure joy for life was inspirational. What I would do to be able to hold a hand like this through the struggles of life; especially those that a young girl in Villa Hermosa must endure.


When this area, along with many others, didn’t have access to clean water the children suffered every single day. From bacteria in water that has not been purified, the children would battle stomach pains and diarrhea that would make daily tasks difficult. From the minerals in the water such as lead and mercury, the children would have rashes on their arms and skin. Many still struggle from these problems if they don’t have access to the clean water or if they are not using the clean water properly.

That is why the health fair is so important for everyone to attend.


 Day 2: The Health Fair at Villa Hermosa

The health fair consisted of teaching the children and women how to properly wash their hands, brush their teeth and rinse off vegetables. It may seem trivial to us, but the majority of these children and even adults have never seen a toothbrush before, let alone know how to use one.

I was at the hand washing station and had the privilege of teaching these kids how to properly wash their hands, making sure they knew how to get between their fingers and under their nails. It was the most beautiful thing to see how protective and loving the siblings were with one another. Since many of the women are catering to newborn babies, the children will often times take care of their younger sibling and look after them. It was a common thing among Villa Hermosa and such a lovely interaction to witness.

With that said, the cutest thing was when a boy, no older than 6 years old, took his (probably 3 year old) little sister’s hands in between his to help her wash them. Insert: heart melted.


It was difficult to say good-bye to these kids. The 2 days we got to spend with them was more than I could have ever anticipated. The love they show is without fear, without hesitation, without judgement. The kind of love I hope we all can obtain and show towards others. God’s love was shown in a mighty way in every interaction, hug, and smile.

Participating and being fully present while interacting and playing with these kids showed me so much grace, so much love, and so much of who I want to be.


These girls had me laughing with their model like poses and their mature confidence. Also, this boy above is going to be an incredible little dancer. Everywhere he went he took his steps in dance moves that followed the rhythm of the song he was singing.

Each unique in their own way, filled with a character and beauty I will never forget.


Side Note: Jenna is not only a fabulous photographer (these images) and a new friend, but she gave each day her entire heart, skill, and being. Her zest for life and focus to make each moment and thought intentional has been an inspiration to my life and I can only hope to live out each day the way she does. Her love for others shined through the entire trip and if you’re not following this wonderful soul already then please do yourself a favor and follow her on IG at @JennaKutcher. You will be empowered by her realness and feel the sincerity in every word she speaks, writes, and through the images she captures.


Day 3: El Almendro

This last day was filled with contrast, inspiration, and a whole lot of dancing! The El Almendro school holds 200 kids from the ages of a few months to 6 years old and gives these kids so much more than a place to learn and play.

They offer a place of safety, structure, health, love, support, education, and encouragement beyond belief. They give these kids hope for the future.


From the moment we stepped foot onto El Almendro’s schoolyard, the joy and laughter from the kids could be heard while the cleanliness of the rooms and grounds were to be admired.

We were able to see the larger filtration system that the school has in place for the kids to drink, use to brush their teeth, wash their hands, and to shower with each day. The care and love that the staff (many volunteers) show towards the children would be everything I would want for my own children.


Before joining the dance party, that the kids have each day to choreographed songs, we had the opportunity to visit each classroom and hold the babies before their nap. They were the sweetest things I have ever seen and it took all of me to finally put the baby down to visit with the next classroom.


I had an absolute blast dancing with the kids. No matter the sweaty mess I became while dancing my heart out, I couldn’t stop the enjoyment and sweet moments we were sharing.

One of my favorite moments from that day was when I kneeled down to the kid’s eye level and the girls started to play with my hair. While one put it all in a pony in the back, one placed the loose strands behind my ears and another patted down the sides. My heart was touched not only from their hairstyling skills ;), but from their trust, kindness, and openness to allow a stranger they don’t understand into their world to play.

I could have stayed there all day relishing in the fun, but I know I’ll be visiting El Almendro again some day and hope to see those shining faces again.


Our next stops were to Sierra Pierta, to see how a new water filtration has changed the lives of the women there, and then to Hoyo  Oscuro, to see what life is like without access to clean water.


Hoyo Oscuro is a beautiful area with lush greenery and well constructed homes, but life here is not what it could be without a water filtration system to end water related illnesses and the daily routine of gathering water from a spring.

The women in this area carry 5 gallon buckets, 6 to 7 times a day, to and from a spring that is located within the brush. We followed the women with our own buckets to gather water to see what that would be like. Carrying a gallon or two of water along the narrow path, with swerves and slight hills, was much further and harder than I had originally thought.

What these women have to do each day just to have some kind of water to drink and use was impressive, but also provoking. How much more their life could be without having to gather water each day. They could instead work to provide for their families, take care of the children, or find a passion elsewhere. With clean water, they will know that their children won’t suffer or become ill.


Let’s give these women a fighting chance. A chance to live a life we all want for ourselves. To wake up each day able to take a shower, brush their teeth, drink plenty of water and care for wounds properly. To find a purpose and passion for their life as well as care for their children.

It’s hard to believe that only $25 helps one person have clean water for a year. I can’t wait to visit these people again, but in the meantime join me in helping Hoyo Oscuro receive a water filtration system from Healing Waters and give hope to many areas who are also in need of clean water.



Stay tuned for more opportunities to get involved and for more updates on ‘The HER Initiative’ follow on IG at @the_her_initiative

Let’s be the change we wish to see in the world. 😉 God Bless!



  • Rob Anthony

    What you have shared here is powerful! If you live in the U.S. or the developed world, it’s impossible to understand how the lack of safe water steals away opportunity to live life in all its fullness, or how access to safe water transforms individuals and communities. Safe water water systems are the best investment we can make for changing his lives! Thanks for helping us see that!

    • desireehartsock

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It was the best trip I’ve ever taken and hope to go back again soon.

  • Pingback: I’m Heading to Guatemala on another ‘HER’ Adventure | Desiree Hartsock()

  • Debby Pool

    I so enjoyed reading your blog about your trip…. 10 friends of mine and I raised the money to install the Healing Waters system that’s in the Duarte district of Santo Domingo about 7 years ago. So much fun and It was the most rewarding project that I’ve ever been a part of. I went back a couple of years ago to see how our project is doing and its now pumping out almost 100,000 gallons of fresh water a week! Thanks for everything you’re doing to raise awareness for this worthy cause – together we can make a huge difference!

    • desireehartsock

      Wow! That’s so incredible what you did. The water is so needed and the systems are truly a blessing. I’m hoping to take part in funding for a specific system and will definitely be taking more HER trips with Healing Waters. Thanks for sharing!