Time Capsule Letter
Hello GHI Session 1 Students!!!
What an amazing and transformative experience we’ve all had! From the service days (lugging sand up that hill and digging that hole!) to jumping off the boat into that crystal clear water at Gri Gri Lagoon, we certainly had an exciting and holistic adventure together. Since many of you are starting school (or college!) at this time, here are a few highlights from the trip to help you reflect on the summer and the growth you have been through.
In our mentor groups and debriefs I remember hearing over and over how the water tank day was the most fulfilling service day for a lot of you. It was a team decision to work together in the “conveyor belt” configuration and despite the incredible heat and hard work, I was so impressed with how high the spirits were as y’all sang through the task in unison.
You deserve to be reminded how much your teamwork made a real difference in this community. Because of your hard work and commitment, this community is closer to having running water and proper bathrooms. That’s a big step toward improving public health and preventing serious health problems.
Who could forget all the fun we had too! Remember the frigid, clear water at Dudu Lagoon where we jumped off the rock and swam in the cave? And how about the afternoon spent playing in the ocean at Playa Preciosa and drinking out of pineapples? I remember waking up on the last morning to the sound of everyone singing “Dancing Queen” before breakfast.
Y’all were such a tight group and I was so impressed with how you looked out for one another and formed such close bonds with each other. It has been my honor, and that of the rest of the staff, to have witnessed each and every one of you shine in your own leadership style and grow in such profound ways.
Thank you for bringing your full selves and for sharing and expressing that with each other and with the community of Las Canas. Your impact has been felt and is so appreciated. We are all so excited for the world to benefit from each of you in your own communities and we hope to see you again on a future GLA experience!
Andréa (Mentor) and the rest of the GHI Team
Tuesday June 11, 2019
So happy to have the GHI team here and ready to rock these next two weeks! Excited for Rachel to join the team tomorrow and to get to visit the clinic. Swim tests, health checks, orientation, and mentor groups were a great way to get prepared for the program and we are all looking forward to catching some zzzs after a long day of travel. Buenas noches!
– GHI Staff Team
Wednesday June 12, 2019
Today, we got started on our first service day of the trip! First, we visited a very rural, small, local clinic that serves more than 500 families in the community. We met with the head doctor and learned about all the various services they offer — all for free — from general practice to women’s reproductive health to bacterial illness to mental health services. Here we gained a new perspective on what it is like to gain care from facilities similar to this one in the Dominican Republic.
The doctor we shadowed took time out of her day to answer our medical questions. She also discussed the connection between public health and sanitation and clinical health. After asking the doctor all our questions, we debriefed in our mentor groups to discuss differences and similarities between the healthcare system here in the Dominican Republic and in the United States. We also kicked off a discussion of public health vs. medicine and how healthy habits can help prevent the need for medical treatment.
Through our questions and conversations, we also learned that many of the local diseases come from crowded living situations. This is related to religious beliefs that frown upon contraceptives, believing that they will promote sexual activities. But in reality, this just leads to the increased likelihood of having larger families, but fewer means to support them.
Another thing we noticed was, one of the biggest difference between the United States’ healthcare and the Dominican Republic’s healthcare is the role religion takes in healthcare systems in terms of contraception and free healthcare. Although contraceptives are not promoted, free healthcare in thee rural areas we visited was. These changes, in turn, created a completely different environment.
This gave us a new perspective on how to not only improve healthcare in the local Dominican Republic communities, but how we could also improve healthcare and access in our own communities back home in the United States. All in all, the wisdom we’ve gained from our experiences will help us moving forward as future healthcare professionals and policy makers.
After the clinic visit, we visited another local community where we picked up trash and plastic waste from the beach in order to better protect the water. We talked about how long plastic takes to degrade and how microplastics can get into water supplies and affect people’s health through the water they use.
After lunch, our Local Director Solanyi taught us how to take vital signs and we were prepped for our upcoming medical brigades and service projects. It was a great first day of service!
Thursday June 13, 2019
Hi Family and Friends,
We’re here to update you guys on what our day consisted of in the Dominican Republic. Today we spilt into groups. Half of us went to a small community called, El Bronx Chiquito and the other half went to, Caño Dulce. In El Bronx Chiquito we helped implement a free and public medical brigade; in El Caño Dulce we started constructing a sustainable bathroom with water bottles for insulation between the walls for families in need within the community.
In the medical brigade we had different stations. We started with the registration, followed by interviews and vitals and then the patients would consult with the doctors. The patients would then go to our pharmacy, where students would help provide them with the medication they needed. In total we had 44 patients today. It was truly amazing to see the impact we were making on this community.
In Caño Dulce, we split up into two different groups, one which helped dig a latrine for waste from the bathroom to empty into, and the other which helped construct the frame of the bathroom out of plastic bottles. In the community, we met many of the local families, children, and dogs, all which were very hospitable. One particular family even welcomed us into their home to eat lunch. The latrine required intense manual labor and consisted of perpetual use of pickaxes and shovels to dig a hole of roughly 7-8 feet. For the frame work, students used hammers and nails to secure the plastic bottles with chicken wire to create a stable foundation before enclosing the bottles in cement to provide insulation for the family.
To conclude, we had a long day filled with lots of service work and rewarding feelings of fulfillment. We were able to further bond with each other, our mentors, and the local communities. We are excited to get some rest tonight and reenergize for another busy day of work tomorrow!
Your leaders of the day,
Emily Peirson, Lili Valle, Alessandro Iaia
Friday June 14, 2019
Today was an eventful day, for all groups. Every group brought love to each community in different ways. Groups three and four experienced an open door in the medical field. Groups one and two realized how hard work impacts the community. In conclusion everyone had a fantastic experience today.
Watching groups three and four walk into the community, El Bronx Chiquito, their faces lit up with joy! They worked in many different medical areas to help this local community be able to thrive. Watching everyone help at the clinic was so amazing to see how fast they learn. At the end day everyone still had a smile on their face. Overall, I truly believe that everyone feels that they made a difference in the short three hours they were there.
At Caño Dulce everyone had a great time playing with the kids while the others worked on the latrine and water bottle bathroom. Johnny opened his home to us in order for us to enjoy our lunch. He even let us taste his honey that he had harvested. The latrine is now five and a half feet deep because of all commitment to digging and pick axing. In conclusion this group worked for the local communities future.
Therefore, the day brought happiness and love throughout the Dominican Republic. Everyone helped the community in one way or another. We hope that tomorrow will be as fulfilling as today.
-Caroline and Baylor
Saturday June 15, 2019
After providing service at a clinic and construction project yesterday, it was time for a well deserved day off today at Rio Yasica! The day started off with a voluntary yoga session in the morning and after eating breakfast, we headed off to the river.
When we got there, we observed reptiles that are taken to a local animal shelter when they are injured. The locals also offered us a chance to try some of the native fruits and see the plants they originate from. Then we went on the a voyage in which we took 2 boats down the river towards the mouth of the ocean, which we learned was an estuary.
Once the peaceful boat ride came to an end, we visited the ocean and had an hour and a half swimming in the water. We then ate a wonderful lunch, prepared by the locals and continued to enjoy the water.
After a good afternoon of sun and lots of fun, we headed back in the boat. As we made our way home, we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and nature of the area. Once we arrived at the lodge, we played cards, exchanged stories and bonded as a group. We then proceeded to eat dinner and finished the night off with an interesting lecture about the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, taught by two of our local employees at 7e.
They shared their personal stories of heartbreak and triumph, navigating the complex political situation impacting their residency and citizenship as Haitians, despite being born in the Dominican Republic. Their experience helped us reflect on our perspectives of how nations treat one another.
We are excited to continue our work tomorrow after a wonderful day off and the groups will split into clinic and construction sites!
-Maria Isabela & Bella
Sunday June 16, 2019
Greetings from Las Canas! Today is June 16th, and we had a great day. We woke up to a bright, sunny day, morning meditation led by some of our peers, and a yummy breakfast with pancakes, and it only went uphill from there!
We started a new rotation of Medical Brigade work and visits to the Caña Dulce bathroom site. In the Medical Brigade, we went to a new clinic site. It was a busy day, with tons of patients, but we all gained valuable medical experience. We met many members of a local community and had a ton of laughs.
At Caña dulce we made significant progress in the bottle bathroom. We kept digging the Latrobe and are so close to finishing digging! One community member named johnny also let us try his honey produced on his own honey farm. It was delicious!
After this, we had free time and hung out at the pool and beach. All in all, it was a great day and we can’t wait for another one tomorrow!!
-Brooke Smith, Lexi, and Delaney
Monday June 17, 2019
Today we continued some of the projects we have been working on previously. Half of us went to the medical brigade and the other half continued constructing the bathroom in the village.
Starting off with the medical brigade, we assisted the mixed community of Dominicans and Haitians. A different occasion occurred in which a patient was immediately assisted by the doctor due to major medical complications. The other group continued digging the hole in the village house. A lot of progress was made as the hole is nearly 6 ft deep with the goal of 7. We started to lay cement on the bottles to create installation and lots of progress had also been made at this sight.
In conclusion, at the end of the day we all gathered to discuss community agreements as there were some complications. We reassessed community agreements due to personal conflicts. Overall, we made progress on both service projects and the relationships between everyone in the camp.
-Kai, Rachel, Addie
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Today we had our first service day at the Cano Dulce water tank! We knew how hard the work and labor was going to be, but the group was excited, none the less. When we arrived, we learned that we would be filling buckets with rocks and sand and then carrying the buckets up a steep hill to the location of the water tank.
Everyone decided as a group to create an assembly line to facilitate the movement of the buckets up the hill. After a few hours of work we returned to the Lodge to eat lunch and have a break. We went back to the service site, excited to continue the day’s job.
After finishing for the day, the group returned once again to the lodge, proud of our work and cooperation. After dinner, we listened to a TED Talk about mental health for our nightly lecture. In the video (“Why I Taught My Grandma to Treat Depression”) we learned about why it’s important to provide access to mental health care, as well as effectively think outside of the box to solve problems.
Following a productive day the group wrapped up with mentor groups, and went to bed excited for tomorrow’s excursion to the lagoon and beach!
Blair, Daniela, and Madeline
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Today we had a great day. We went to DuDu Lagoon which was super pretty… we got to walk in caves and swim in the lagoon water. Then we ate lunch and went to Playa Preciosa. We spent the day swimming in the ocean, drinking Piña Colladas (virgin of course!) and buying from merchants. Our entire group bonded like never before and new friendships flourished. From being buried in sand to playing in the water to jumping into a cave pool, we found ourselves laughing with people we had never spoken to.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Hey friends and families!
Today we spilt up into groups again, and half of us went to Caño Dulce and the other half did vitamin distribution.
At Caño Dulce, we continued to work on deepening the hole, and cementing the wall for the families house. At the vitamin distribution, students helped about 40 patients with their medical needs by taking height and weight, and making sure the process ran smoothly.
Also at Caño Dulce, we got honey from a local bee farmer, and enjoyed it following our hard work. Then following the vitamin distribution, students were able to cool off at the pool.
Tomorrow, we will be splitting up into groups and going to Caño Dulce and the vitamin distribution, and then presenting our Capstone projects that we have been working on for a couple days.
Talk to you tomorrow!
Priscilla Velez, Crystal Xia, Noah Archuleta
Today mentor groups 1&4 had the medical brigade. We served 50 patients which is the most patients we’ve ever served at a medical brigade. This brigade was held outside the gates of our lodge to serve the community of Las Canas.
While the brigade was in effect, mentor groups 2&3 were in the community of Caño Dulce to finish building the water bottle bathroom and latrine. We put a rough coat of cement on the bathroom and finally finished digging the 7 foot hole for the latrine. We then started to put cement on the latrine so waste doesn’t leak out. We are excited to see what the next GHI group does based on the foundation we built.
Tonight we presented our capstone projects which we have been working on for many days. We were tasked with coming up with an organization that solves one of the many problems in the Dominican Republic. Some of these issues included road side injuries, upper respiratory infections, air pollution, and water sanitation. We were excited to learn about our peers solutions for these large scale problems.
Libby, Vivienne, & Ling