Rayjon Memories: More content coming soon! Please check back again!

From Sylvia van der Weg

I remember talking with John Barnfield one evening at Cursillo and asking if Rayjon would be interested in helping nursing students travel to the Dominican . I was working at Lambton College at the time – not sure of the dates – but I do know that in 1998 I was involved with Marilyn and also helped create the Course outline Prepared for The Course “A Nursing Cultural Experience” in Winter of 1998.

My mother died in March or 1998 so I am not sure that I went on that trip but have been on  every trip since then. Until 2003 we did a Lambton College only trip then I moved to Barrie in 2000 and went that year with Marilyn . In 2001 &2002 we did a combined Georgian/ Lambton trip but found the distance and logistics too difficult to make the group unified. In 2003 I started the Georgian College solo trip and we continued in Bani until the Sisters retired – some years we did 2 weeks, a student trip and a Nurses trip but that became too much for the aging Sisters Catherine, Peggy and Roberta.

I was ready to retire from the trips when Bani ended and encouraged Lynn Hoath and Jane Barnes to spearhead looking at Consuelo as an alternative location for our trips. They went to Consuelo in the fall of 2008 and met with Ben, John Popiel and ??? and toured Barrio 41. Sister Lenore was supportive and so in 2009 the first trip to Consuelo took place and I of course went but now as a support and back-up for Jane. I have continued to go each year with continued enthusiasm and drive but Jane Barnes is the trip leader.


From Marilyn Palmer

It is hard to believe it is 30 years since that first awareness trip to Haiti in 1986.  I was privileged to be on the trip, which was the first of many over the next 10 years.

While each trip had it very special memories, if I had to chose one I would have to say it was the 10th Anniversary trip to Haiti, where a group of us spent a week at Mother Theresa’s Malnutrition Clinic in Port au Prince.

Marilyn & a Sister of Charity @ Mother Teresa's Malnutrition Clinic, Rayjon's 10th Anniversary Trip, 1996

Marilyn & a Sister of Charity @ Mother Theresa’s Malnutrition Clinic, Rayjon’s 10th Anniversary Trip, 1996

We were assigned to the critical care ward for babies who were suffering from aids and malnutrition. Our duties consisted of changing, feeding and holding these babies who were brought to the clinic by their mothers or who were left on the doorstep.

While that experience was one that I shall never forget, what stands out the most was the love and compassion that the sisters showed to these beautiful babies as they walked through the ward placing a gentle hand on each little one and quietly murmuring words of love and affection.

One of the babies died in the arms of one of our group, the sister in charge quietly took the baby and wrapped her in a beautiful pink blanket – she whispered to our friend “go and find some joy with the toddler’s down the hall” and then holding the baby close to her heart silently left the room.

When we left at the end of our week, we knew that most of the babies we had cared for would not survive, but we left confident  – in knowing that they spent their last days in a loving, caring environment and died with dignity.

Memories Are Forever!!  –  Marilyn Palmer

From Felicity Burnard

I have been so blessed to have been on several trips to the D.R., Haiti,Guatamala all under the Rayjon umbrella.

The story begins in 1989 when the trip to Haiti was cancelled due to the situation of the country and so we went to the Dominican Republic instead- and what an eye opener that was; from orphanage’s to hospital’s to cement factory , to finishing a school floor high up in the mountains,to meeting Sister Mary and Father Lou Quinn who woke us up at 2.00 am serenading us with the most beautiful music that to this day I will always remember, the children always
the children, it didn’t matter that they didn’t have anything,they smiled at us and we were better because of their smiles and to this day when life gets crappy I can close my eyes and see the big big eyes and white white teeth
and smiling.


The following years took us to Haiti where we worked in orphanage’s,building rabbit hutches so the Haitians could learn to look after the rabbits which provided food for the people, repairing the roads which were not roads just rocks in a path,teaching the ladies to knit,so many memories,so much laughter and so many tears, Habitat for humanity took us to Guatamala where we built houses and the family worked along side of us- the whole family
children as well, and they were so excited to be helping. It made you feel very proud that somewhere a family is living with a roof over its head because you helped make it happen.

Building rabbit houses

Building rabbit houses


It is the beauty of the country,it is the warmth of the people who have nothing,but give you everything, it is the
children always the children.

After one trip I wrote in my journal:

“What is poverty?

Poverty is crowded conditions and a family of 6 sleeping in a 9×9
hut, Poverty is us wanting our own room and space,

Poverty is the slums, the garbage rotting in the streets, the smell of raw sewage, Poverty is us complaining the garbage man threw the lid on the road and we had to pick it up

Poverty is children with extended stomachs and one item of clothing,
Poverty is us with freezer’s full of food and closets full of clothes
Poverty is hospitals with no medicine to give to the children, Poverty is us
who complain because the nurse didn’t come quick enough with the pain pill,

Poverty is you and I my friend”