GLA’s Global Health Initiative program is a primer for studying medicine or public health in the developing world. A university-level program, it’s designed to give a progressive experience— challenging preconceptions of health with new experiences, and guidance from attending medical and public health professionals working in the field.
Global Health Initiative Itinerary
Please note: Activities may happen on different days due to weather or community needs. This is a tentative itinerary.
|1||Arrival in Santo Domingo and Night in Colonial zone|
|2||Travel to Barahona, Orientation at Homebase and have clinic orientation|
|3||1st Health Brigade|
|4||Repairs and reparation of health facility|
|5||Travel to Jimani Border town and Lago Enriquillo|
|6||2nd Health Brigade|
|7||Town water pump house restoration at the world’s shortest river|
|8||Travel to Cachote cloud forest village|
|9||Repairs and reparation of health facility|
|10||Town water tank restoration|
|11||3rd Health Brigade at Las Filipinas Mining community|
|12||Repairs and reparation of health facility|
|13||Activity Day: Boat ride to Playa De Las Aguilas and snorkel|
|14||Return to Santo Domingo and fly home|
July 7, 2017
Our first days in the Dominican Republic have shown how easy it is to make new friendships and learn new cultures from the people we have met. Today we went to the clinic in Los Patos to hear from nurse Urqui. She was the most caring and compassionate person you could ever meet. She taught us about the barriers to healthcare that are present in the Dominican Republic.
We came back to homebase to learn more about the brigade days and what we will experience (registration, vitals, interview, waiting room, consultation and pharmacy). After, we went to the beautiful beach that we were able to swim in and relax before dinner. We finished up the day with a lecture on the 7 elements of security in the DR. Food has been really good so far and there aren’t as many bugs as we thought. We are looking forward to the next adventures we will encounter!!
– Allison Vrooman & Lauren McCormick
Haitian-Dominican Center Day
During the midst of our morning stretch, the group commenced reflecting upon the work we would accomplish today. As we approached the working site, and saw the conditions of the community we were about to change, it was definitely an eye opening experience to learn the great impact we would be leaving on them. From cementing the walls, to playing soccer with the kids, we learned the importance of coming together to enjoy each other’s company while creating a better environment for the inhabitants of the community. It was worth the sweat and the hustle because of the positive contribution that the clinic we helped build today and the integral role it will provide to the community as a whole.
With all of our helping hands, we were able to continue the work that past GLA students began in order to create a healthy surrounding and relationship between the center and the people. In the future, this center will hopefully alter the health care standards provided in the Dominican Republic. It was a great privilege for us to interact with the kids, workers, and community workers. The work that the Haitian-Dominican Center does on a daily basis is admirable and will echo for generations to come.
-Sulaiman Sajed and Natalia Gargani
Cachon Lab Renovation
Today was the first time that we were served a true Dominican breakfast. Although not everyone would declare this dish their new favorite food, we really appreciated the opportunity to experience a truthful Dominican cuisine. A short trip to a local community provided an oppurtunity for us to assist Pastor Luis, who started a local clinic to offer healthcare, in mixing cement in order to build a lab for the clinic. Some students worked on the roof laying cement, while others played soccer and kickball with the local children. While the games with the children only lasted for a few hours, the memories are everlasting.
The generous local women used our ingredients to prepare us a delicious traditional lunch. With full bellies, we returned to the roof energized and determined to finish the project we had started. Before our departure, there were any hugs and words of love spread between the local children and the students. As the sweaty students loaded on to the bus, we glanced back and were reminded of the impact that we made. It wasn’t that we physically gave the children anything, but we made connections that no one will forget.
-Emma Bernick and Lauren Miranda
Jimaní / Lago EnriquilloThe group today went to Jimaní border market to learn about the trade between Haiti and Dominican Republic. As we walked through the market we had a cute scavenger hunt of items sold there in the market including mabí, rolos, batata and Tampico. It was crazy how intense the whole situation was: people, vehicles and products seem to be flying around faster than any of us could comprehend. After we left the market Carlos (our amazing bus driver) kindly drove us to the lake Enriquillo. Lake Enriquillo use to be a lake in Haiti and due to multiple causes the lake has risen and expanded 3ft every year causing locals to lose their home, land and stability. We were lucky enough to be taken out on a boat and got a tour of the area while being told about the devastation and the history there. It was definitely one of those things you cannot comprehend until you see it in person and talk to people who have been affected by such a disaster. Over all today was an awing experience that all of the students were affected by including myself.-Ashlyn Higgs
Brigade in Bahoruco
Today was our first brigade, which meant today we would be doing hands on clinical work. We started our day at 7:30 with a typical Dominican breakfast that consisted of fried eggs, ham, cheese, and potatoes. We piled onto the bus at 8:30 and headed to Bahoruco, a small maritime community about 45 minutes away. We spent about an hour and a half setting up stations for our brigade. The stations were registration, vitals, patient interview, waiting room, doctor consultation, and lastly, pharmacy. Each of us worked each station to provide this free service. This helped each and every one of us to enhance our cultural and educational experience in the Dominican Republic.
Our second half of the day included some much needed free time that was spent by our relaxing private Caribbean beach outside of our hotel. Another aspect that composes this trip is the Dominican immersion that was practiced in our hotel as we learned how to dance the typical dances merengue and bachata. This did not only improve our cultural experience but also allowed us to bond as a group. Lastly we watched a documentary regarding the introspection of the Dominican and Haitian identity. Today was a perfect representation of our GLA experience that encompasses educational, cultural and interpersonal relations that are making this trip a remarkable one.
-Eduardo Alcalde & Rebecca Horrow
After breakfast today, we traveled to the community of Cachote. After about 2 hours of up-hill rocky driving, we finally reached the house where we began to do our work on renovating their water tanks. As we did with the other villages, the same procedures applied here: mix the cement, smack it against the wall, and then smooth it out. However, there were some differences. Unlike the past, we painted the water tanks in a light blue, and on a more surprising note, the members of the village helped us out which really helped expedite the process. The cement mixing that took us 30 minutes at the other villages took us about 5 with the gentlemens’ help. It’s so surprising and encouraging to see that even though these citizens have to do the same work everyday, they will still do whatever it takes to help out others, even when they are not required. That’s what I have noticed so far during my trip to the DR. No matter what these citizens go for, they always take the obstacle in stride and always try and do whatever they can to fix it. This is one of the things I’m specifically proud of our group for doing; I believe since we have come to the DR, we have really cut down on our complaining even though we are forced to adjust to a different lifestyle. For us specifically, it shows how the majority of the world lives and we have realized that we have things people here dream of having and to not take it for granted.
Later that evening, we had an empowering lecture on social justice. Here we learned about the power of humanity and how it influences others and the social justice system as a whole. We learned about the differences between equality and equity and were given activities that were eye-opening and emotionally challenging for some such as myself. We learned the importance of gratefulness, compassion towards others, taking action and making an impact towards bettering the social justice system for everyone. It was an amazing, emotional, eye-opening experience and a great way to end the day.
– Nonjabulo Knosi & Shivam Patel
Relaxation DayThis morning we got to sleep in until 9am(!) We woke up to French toast and fruits and scrumptiously devoured it, getting a nostalgic taste of America in every bite. At 9:45 we left to the ‘Shortest River’, which was a great start to our relaxation day. The minute we spotted the ocean, the first thought was to dip in to the turquoise-y blue waters. We rented tubes and floated down the river, with the cold water splashing left and right. After eating lunch, some of the group ventured to the beach with their adventurous mindsets, while other creative minds stayed at the hotel to learn how to cook a classic Dominican snack.
Afterwards, we had a mouth-watering dinner, which consisted of alfredo pasta and juicy fruits, which are an abundance here in the DR. Our diverse personalities were revealed when we played a game of 4 Bars, where we each went around in a circle and created poetical verses revolving around ourselves. This game was followed by an interesting debate concerning the importance of universal health care; we created a mock debate and assigned a supporting group, as well as an opposing group for the issue. Many interesting ideas were brought up concerning various aspects of humanity, as well as the realistic portion of the idea of universal health care. Following the debate, everyone dispersed to their rooms with a better understanding of what it means to be human <3-Saaniyah Sajed and Shirin Yavari
Positive in the midst of challenges
Our day kick-started with an 8 am breakfast consisting of peanut butter toast, cereal, and pineapple/cantaloupe. We prepared for the planned day of concrete mixing in Cachon, however because of undesirable weather, we decided to postpone the Clinic Lab Renovation to later that afternoon. At 9 am, Group A and Group B headed off to Barahona for a local grocery store to purchase snacks. After our return to the hotel, one mentor, Erin Donovan, led a yoga class while others chilled in their rooms or in the pool. Rather then proceeding to the worksite, the group enjoyed a quick lunch prepared by the hotel staff at noon. We ate chicken with bean and vegetable salad, and our regular fruit serving (of pineapple and melon). On our way to Cachon, we listened to music provided by a student volunteer named Shiv, which consisted of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.
Unfortunately, the unpredictable flash rain in the morning caused a limited access to the water available at the Clinic. This prevented the group from mixing concrete again. Luckily, a local fire station was capable of introducing the group to its duties and responsibilities in the community; touring the station and allowing the group to ask questions about the importance of the fire fighters job gave an insight on the importance of community security. We also visited a sight dedicated to helping the elderly eat and with their transportation services. We returned to the hotel and relaxed until dinner. Our journal entries were dedicated to naming all the positives things that happened in the day, even though we had some delays. Afterwards, the entire group participated in a fun activity similar to hide and go seek. Following that, we all came together to watch a touching movie called “Captain Fantastic”, which involved a single father raising his children in the woods. With the last days coming to an end, the group is more connected than ever, and excited to see their family, but leave their GLA family. All the best wishes!
& Lily Xia
July 15, 2017
Haitian-Dominican Center Brigade
Today we traveled back to the Hatian Dominican Center for our final brigade of the program. Earlier in the program we helped renovate the building, so it was very satisfying to see how quickly the work we had done was benefiting the community. Although we were thrilled to be seeing more patients in the community, we ran into many language barriers, as many of the patients were Hatian, so they spoke Creole. However, we remained positive and tried to keep the patients happy while they were awaiting care. We were also able to interact more with members in the community who were helping us translate. We taught some of them English words and made some oragami.
After the Brigade we had a leadership class with one of our mentors, Erin. We learned a lot about different types of leaders and the categories they fall into. To determine which type of leader we are, we did an activity to highlight our strongest atributes. It was eye-opening to see the different types of leaders we have in our group, and how they all contribute something unique to our daily adventures. Later in the evening, we had another lecture with a mentor from Group B, Sarah. We learned about the health care system in the United States; such as how it works, how it differs from the Dominican Republic health care system, and the different opinions many people have towards Universal Health Care. At the end of the day we went to bed with a better understanding of how the health care system works in the United States.
– Grace Blecharczyk and Olivia Chan