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|
All students in Program A for the Global Health Initiative safely arrived in Santo Domingo. They were transported from the airport to Hostal Primaveral, close to La Zona Colonial, where they settled into their rooms and rested for a bit until dinner. Around 6:00 PM the students split up into smaller groups to walk around the historical sites and ate pizza for dinner. The groups started returning back to the Hostal around 8:30 in time to shower, settle into their rooms and write in their journals to reflect on the experiences of the day. Today they will be traveling to Homebase in Barahona where the adventure will begin!
June 20, 2017
Today, we as leaders in GLA woke up this morning and had a Dominican breakfast. It consisted of eggs, ham, and bread with pineapple and mango juice. We were very excited to arrive to our new home for the next two weeks and are looking forward to becoming the change that would like to see in the world. For lunch, we enjoyed a Dominican meal with new friends and mentors. Driving through traffic was kind of slow but very fun. We occupied ourselves with music and singing. Our favorite song would have to be “Despacito”. Arriving to our home base was breathtaking. Our view of the ocean from the balcony made us very happy. We’ve been waiting to swim in the water since we got off the plane. We enjoyed spending time in the pool, eating dinner, and learning about one another. We also made full value contracts about what we expect from each other in this experience. We are very excited to see what the Dominican Republic has in store for us.
June 22, 2017
Los Patos Clinic
We woke up excited to begin a new adventure today. We came down to breakfast and ate delicious eggs with pancakes to help start the day. Our Leaders of the Day told us the schedule for the day and we were all ecstatic to learn that we were attending Los Patos Clinic. To begin our journey we got on the bus and even though it’s a bit stuffy, we love to sing along to the songs and to be able to see the beautiful views such as the oceans and the people in the community. Once there we had time to see the clinic, and talk to the doctors and nurses. They talked about their experiences, the programs and resources they offer to their community as a first level of attention. We got to ask questions and learn about the community even more and it was a great opportunity to express our thoughts and hear from others people’s experiences.
We came back to El Quemaito to eat lunch. After lunch we had a talk with Javier who taught us how to measure height, weight and blood pressure. We learned that we were going to do our own trial medical brigade. We were in different stations such as: registration, vitals, waiting rooms, clinical interview, doctor consultation, pharmacy and data transcription. We got to learn how it is to be in our own small public health system. We got to have free time and go to the pool. To top it all off dinner was delicious!
Haitian-Dominican Center Renovation
Today during group A, we went to San Rafael. We picked up trash specifically plastic bottles. After that we brought them to the Haitian Dominican Center. We used the plastic bottles to build “recycling walls” throughout a room in the center. The recycling walls should encourage community members to recycle rather than just throwing the away or throwing them on the beach causing pollution.
At the Haitian Dominican Center, we also met Michele, someone with first hand experience with the tension between the Haitians and the Dominicans. Michele told us about how the tension began and then, how it progressed in later years. While this originally started as a division between the two groups, it progressed into prejudice and political and social exclusion. Michele’s goal is to help ease this tension. It is important for us, that while we are here, we remain not only aware of the issues, but also aware of their origins.
June 23, 2017
Today was an amazing experience. We traveled to Cachote on 4X4 trucks through rough terrain in the mountains. Our Project for the day was to help renovate the community’s water tanks. We were able to experience a day without electricity and indoor plumbing. On our break, we hiked to a nearby nursery where we saw seedlings of trees that only grow in the park of Cachote.
In Cachote there is a population of 125 people, and all living in small communities in the park. We had a chance to play with the baby kittens and the family of dogs. There were also chickens roaming and fat pigs wandering the beautiful mountainside. We enjoyed a delicious lunch made by a resident of the community. When we traveled back to home base everyone enjoyed a dip in the pool and tasty ice cream cone. All in all our day was very eventful and fun filled!
June 24, 2017
Cachon Lab Renovation
Day six has been an exciting experience to add to our GLA adventure. Today we went to the First Attention Clinic in Cachon to help construct a medical lab. This rewarding task consisted of making cement and plastering it on the walls. While taking breaks from work we played baseball with the kids of the community. This experience allowed us to interact with the kids on a more personal level. In addition it was funny to see the attempts that some of the students made at batting. In comparison to the locals we were poor competition (It was six and seven year olds beating us J). At the clinic we got to learn more about the health situation here in the Dominican Republic.
After saying our goodbyes to the people of Cachon we headed to a local supermarket to restock our snacks. It was interesting to see the differences of the markets here vs. others at home. We got to explore new snack options offered in the Dominican (others chose to stay within their comfort zones). Students are continuing to become more aware of their privileged lives at home. We are looking forward to undergo more new experiences in the week to come! Thinking of all of you at home and cannot wait to see you!
June 26, 2017
“The struggle you face today is developing the strength you’ll need tomorrow”
This morning we started with this quote and reminded everyone to keep it in their minds throughout our first brigade day. We knew there would be struggles with the language barrier and with pressure and emotions in the clinic. Our team boarded the safari vehicles and trecked our way up to Las Filipinas, where we set up our clinic in the local primary school. We registered, interviewed, took vitals of patients, shadowed the doctors, and distributed the necessary medications. Since the brigade wasn’t a permanent clinic, our supplies of medicine and time only allowed for us to treat 50 patients. Las Filipinas does not have access to primary attention clinic there were many people in need that we were unable to treat. It was very difficult for us to watch people leave without getting the help they needed and it was an amazing reminder of how lucky we are to have access to sufficient medical care at home.
After relaxing at home base for some free time, emotions ran high again during our social justice lecture given by a mentor named Sara. We learned about struggles people face at home and all over the world. This reminded us again about the changes we can make with our resources. We had time to reflect on these emotions with our mentor groups and there were many tears. Dear mom and dad: we love you a lot and miss you dearly. But, we are never coming home. Hahahahaha 🙂
June 26, 2017
Jimaní/ Lago Enriquillo
Today started with an early morning and a long trip to Jimaní, a Haitian border town. When we arrived we were met with chaos within a lively market. The market held small treasures within the bustling walls. Many of us were met with an intial shock of the reality of the market. We pictured beautiful rows of souvenirs, yet the poverty shown through in the market. It became known to us that not every shopping center is provided with wealth. Many of us realized today that poverty comes in many forms and it is our mission to make a change where it is needed.
The second part of the day consisted of an adventure to Lago Enriqullo and a lunch in a beautiful hiking area. We got the chance to hike along the beautiful streams and through the forest. At the lake we were met with a few friendly visitors- iguanas! Although we didn’t see them, crocodiles were also near the beach. The amazing views these two forests allowed for nice pictures, but more beautiful memories.
To our parents: we love and miss you J See you in less than a week!
June 27, 2017
Continuing Cachon Lab Renovation
We arose at dawn for another beautiful morning at Hotel Quemaito. We were grateful for waking up at the more appropriate and manageable time of 8:00. After a plentiful breakfast, we held a moment of silence in reflection of the natural beauty that surrounded us. We proceeded to load the buses and returned to the clinic in Cachon, where we continued our laborious work on the laboratory. Our day consisted of sifting sand in the hot, humid sun, mixing cement while trying to avoid its splatters, and playing soccer with the upbeat, local children. We made extra sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of water; we even had the fortune of some sort of local angel deliver us ice! After a hearty lunch, we continued our mission in helping the community.
Heading back to home base, much of the group took a dip in the refreshing pool during free time. We gathered outside to watch a documentary about the unfortunate situation of Lago Enriquillo, where it has flooded the immediate town and forced its residents to leave. The documentary featured many areas our group has already visited, including the lake itself and the Haitian-Dominican market. We reflected with interest on our own experience with these areas with the clips from the documentary. After a surprising meal of bacon-wrapped chicken, we headed to Room 8B, where we began our lecture on healthcare and had an intense debate on its status as a right. We continued with a touching clip of Jimmy Kimmel’s miracle of his newly born baby, finally concluding with the best ensemble cover of Don’t Stop Believing. We finally rest and await another adventure-filled day in the Dominican Republic.
June 28, 2017
Los Patos Tank Renovation
Today was probably one of the best days, because we got to struggle through working on a water tank and in doing so bond closer together. On the way back down from the water tank one student, Luke, started the “100 bottles of beer on the Wall” song and attempted to teach us one of his football cheers (it didn’t go very well). Also, we got to experience the rejuvenating power of the shortest river (yes, that was its real name) the view was spectacular. The ocean was so blue and clear, a sure sign of this Paradise that we’ve come to love.
After hard work and sweat, going to the river felt really refreshing. Then Erin, one of our mentors, showed us a fun way to float down the river, by letting the current carry you. A bunch of us did this at once and it was a blast! After getting out of the river many of us bought candy and ice cream from small vendors at the river, which was unique experience. All in all, this day brought with it some of the most breathtaking sights we have seen this whole trip.
Medical Brigade #2
The alarm rang at 6 am sharp forcing me to wake up and get out of bed. While half of me wanted to complain, the other half made me realize that the work I will be doing with the rest of my group will make every yawn worth it. Approaching the Clinic in Cachon, the excitement from the 24 students trapped in a small bus began to build. Not knowing whether or not this clinic would be similar to the previous, we all had one mind set, we are here to help others, learn their culture, educate ourselves, and bond with our fellow group members. The similarity of the surroundings and ideas were a lost identical, but one thing was resoundingly different: we were experienced.
The day went by hectically but we are proud to say that we survived. Through the shuffling papers and struggling to understand Spanish, our team, rather our family, grew together to support each other throughout the day. When our time was not spent with patients, it was spent playing with the children. Whether it be soccer, baseball, or kickball our athletic abilities were tested under the 90 degree sun.
After what we would consider to be an adventurous bus trip, we arrived at the busy market. We spent the last of our pesos, noticing the imminent end of our journey. The res of the day was filled with lectures and discussions on what we had done that day. While those meetings may have felt as if they were interrupting the precious last moments we have with our friends, we all know that this only improve the experience. The cultural experience we all gained in the past 10 days will definitely affect the rest of all of our lives.