What an amazing two weeks we had together in the DR! Some of you are probably heading back to school (or even college!) at this point and I want to take a minute to reflect on our time together.
Y’all came from all over the country with a common goal to help people. Thank you for your work in helping bridge the gap in public health and medicine by working so hard in the pop-up clinics, the bottle house bathroom and, who could forget, the water tank! I’m not sure any of us could make it through those tiring days without singing along to everyone’s music or working to solve all of those riddles. It was such a pleasure to witness the team bonding occur throughout our service and in so many ways.
Not only did we work hard, but we played hard too! Spending our excursions on the water at Rio de Yasica, Dudu Lagoon, Playa Preciosa, and GriGri Lagoon was such a refreshing way to catch some rays and relax as a group.
Perhaps what I appreciated most about this group was your willingness to bring forward issues you cared about. This helped shape a culture of honesty and openness where we could dive into meaningful and productive dialogue about a myriad of topics, including the elements of human security.
As you all have settled back into your lives back at home, I am curious as to how this experience has effected you and how it is manifesting in your own life and community. I am looking forward to hearing about other projects you all take on in the pursuit of making a sustainable impact. Thank you again for investing yourself in this way and I hope to see you on a future GLA experience! 🙂
Andréa (Mentor) and the GHI Team
Thursday June 27, 2019
Hello to all families and friends of the students on the second session of GLA Global Health Initiative in the Dominican Republic!
Everyone arrived safely today and finally saw where they will be staying for the next two weeks! Before dinner all the students performed swim tests in the pool and checked in with their mentors. At dinner we had a delicious, traditional Dominican meal of rice, beans, chicken, salad, fresh tamarind juice, and some broccoli and potatoes, as well!
Later, we moved into student orientation and discussed the code of conduct together, which was followed by short activities in mentor groups before we all went to bed. No problem with lights out tonight as everyone was very jet lagged! Looking forward to the clinic tour and the training for medical brigade tomorrow!
Friday June 28, 2019
Our first day in the Dominican Republic was filled with lots of new beginnings and getting to know each other. Today, we went to the medical clinic to learn more about the medical field in the DR and to meet the doctor (Dr. Fermin) working at the clinic in Sabaneta, a town nearby our Home Base. We asked him questions concerning his career path, both in the past and for the future.
We also visited the supermarket to exchange money and purchase snacks. After returning back to Home Base, we learned about our jobs at the medical brigades and brushed up on our Spanish. We also visited the beach and ended our day with a lecture about the seven elements of human security. Highlights from today included meeting Dr. Fermin, who we found to be an inspiring individual, and learning about ethical photography practices.
We also met a cute dog on the beach! For lunch, we enjoyed rice with vegetables, pork in tomato sauce, salad, broccoli, and sweet plantains, and for dinner, we had fried fish, pasta in tomato sauce, savory plantains, local fruit, salad, and broccoli. We had a fantastic first day, and are looking forward to many more!
– by Emory, Annika, and Whitney
Saturday June 29, 2019
Today we split into two different groups. One went to Caño Dulce, where we started building another water bottle bathroom and two latrines for local families who didn’t have an adequate way to dispose of their waste. We were invited for lunch to Johnny’s, one of our community allies and later got to try his homemade honey. The group worked very hard through the heat and made a lot of progress on the bathrooms. For example, some of us started digging a hole that will eventually reach 7ft deep.
The other half of the group went to another local community called Canta la Rana (The frog sings) to support in the medical care for the people there. The medical brigade served around 60 patients and we helped the doctor out by taking vitals of the patients and distributing medicine to them.
After a full day of service, many enjoyed cooling off in the pool. Our nightly lecture included a video and a conversation with a local 7 elements director, Walner, about the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
We are excited for our second day of service tomorrow when the groups will switch.
Aspen, Julia & Megan
Sunday June 30, 2019
Hi everyone! Today Groups 1 and 2 visited Caño Dulce for the community service projects to build a septic tank and help build the walls to the bathroom. We did this in order to preserve health sanitation and hygiene for the Caño Dulce community. In Caño Dulce, we met a local mason who helped with the construction of a septic tank. There were three groups of students in which they mixed cement for the base, installed plastic water installation for the bathroom, and the last group broke ground for the septic tank. Groups 3 and 4 visited Callejón de la Loma for the medical Brigade.
There 5 stations including registration, interviewing, vitals, doctor assistance and pharmacy. Over 45 patients who were dealing with various medical issues were tended and prescribed medicine. After our long day of service, we headed back to the home base where we went to the beach, pool, and relaxed at the lodge. After dinner, we had public health discussions about HIV and AIDS. We are excited tomorrow for our lagoon excursion!
-Aylin, Maggie, and Daley
Monday July 1, 2019
Buenos días! Today, we embarked on our first excursion! Our day began with a breakfast of pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, toast, and tropical fruit. After, we took a 20 minute bus ride to the riverside of Rio de Yásica. A 30 minute boat ride brought us to a stunning beach where the river meets the ocean. We swam around with some of the locals and enjoyed the sun.
For lunch we ate chicken and pasta at a restaurant by the beach. As a treat, some of us ordered Piña Coladas. Following another hour at the beach, we headed to the supermarket where many of us stocked up on snacks and other essentials for the week. We wrapped up the day with some activities back at home base!
-by Melissa, Sammy, and Emily
Tuesday July 2, 2019
Hola familias bonitas!!
It’s Maggie’s birthday today!!!!
Today marks day six of our service here in the Dominican. Like the other service days, we split into two groups heading to either Caño Dulce or the medical brigade. We have made good progress on our projects as we filled one of the bathroom floors with dirt and cement and continued creating insulation with plastic water bottles in a different bathroom. Those at Caño Dulce played basketball and hung out with the local kids to finish off their hard work.
Those at medical brigade set up in a small community church where they saw new locals in need of their help. They took vitals and prescribed medicine. Mary held a beautiful baby and Daley played the church piano! It was really exciting interacting with a whole different community.
After dinner we split up into groups and came up with solutions for different health dilemma situations. We presented our plans in the form of skits and videos, and discussed their pros and cons. To finish off everyone’s day, we had an amazing dinner and celebrated Maggie’s 15th birthday with a big cake.
-by Sam, Sophie, and Ruby
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Today was another day full of wonderful experiences. Half of the group set up a medical brigade in Islabon and the other half continued service in Caño Dulce.
The group at Caño Dulce began by finishing insulating the walls with bottles and placing the cement on top. At the medical brigade we helped 52 patients and played with multiple energetic children!
Later in the evening after enjoying a pool day, we ate a dinner of rice, chicken, guandules, avocado, mac&cheese pineapple, and tamarin juice. We then walked to the beach to watch a beautiful sunset and finished the day with a lecture on infectious diseases.
-by Victoria, Esteban, and Akilah
Thursday July 4, 2019
Today was another great day in Las Canas. We started our day off with an amazing and delicious breakfast made by our wonderful cooks. We had french toast, eggs, fruit, oatmeal, cereal, and some banana smoothie.
After breakfast we all got ready to head out to the community and start our first day working on the water tank. We all split up and got straight to work! Some of us were making concrete while others were part of a chain bringing buckets of sand, water, and rocks all the way up to the top of a hill.
Since we worked so hard we also got a chance to interact with locals and listen to music. We later had lunch all together and enjoyed having fun conversations. After lunch we continued working on the water tank. The weather today was really hot but at the end it started to rain a little. We even got to go to Bón for some delicious Dominican Ice Cream. We got to relax at the lodge and had an informational lecture on mental health.
Overall, we had an amazing day and even though we are super tired we still had a lot of fun and made even more memories! We are also so excited for our excursion tomorrow!!!
Dallana , Daniel , Michael
Saturday July 6, 2019
We started this fantastic morning with a scrumptious breakfast which consisted of pancakes along with Johnny’s honey. If you are unaware, Johnny is a local from Caño Dulce who produces unprocessed honey. Groups 2 and 3 went to Caño Dulce and spent their day concreting the bathroom walls and digging the hole about 3 feet down. José Manual is a 15 year old local who often spends his summer days helping GLA students get their job done. We had an opportunity to chat with kids living in the community.
Groups 1 and 4 spent their day at the brigade where they aided 60 people within the Río San Juan community. We practiced our Spanish while getting to know many of the patients. After finishing a little early, we enjoyed friendly games of hangman and tic tac toe with a few of the families and their children.
After coming back from today’s adventures we enjoyed a nice swim until we noticed a frog which was taken out of the pool by Olivia. We then showered and had a yummy dinner which consisted of a Dominican dish called Sancocho (chicken, yuca, carrots, spices, pumpkin). We celebrated an important milestone for Annika as she turned 17( WHOOT WHOOT) with cake and balloons!!!!!! We all then finished preparing our capstone presentations which are due tomorrow. Lastly we watched an optional movie and ended the night with our mentor groups.
-by Supriya, Gwen, and Olivia
Sunday July 7, 2019
Today, was our last day at both the bathroom service and medical brigade. We started our day off with breakfast and then later the medical brigade team left the base at 9:00am and the service team left at 9:30am. Today in the medical brigade we helped out a community by giving them the chance to consult with a doctor and also get any medication that they would need.
In service we spilt into 3 groups. We had a cement group, a group working on the walls of the bathroom, and finally a group that was digging the hole for the latrine. The group working on the latrine managed to dig another couple of feet, almost close to completing the project. The cement mixing group had a great time sifting the sand to create the mixture and interacting with locals. Those who worked on the walls helped the masons to complete the smooth outer layer of the bathroom walls.
In the medical brigade we split into 5 groups: registration, interview, vitals, doctor, and pharmacy. We had the opportunity to interact with the local community members; additionally, we are grateful for the chance to get a first hand medical experience. An event that made our day was an older man even bought the group 2 liters of Coke as a thank you.
Thanks, we miss everyone at home!
Jade, Tattiana, and Ashley
After breakfast, we departed to Caño Dulce for our last day of service! Everyone worked together on the water tank. We strengthened our work ethic from the last service day and improved our communication skills by setting up a rotation system. One group was working with cement at the top of the hill, another was digging the trench, painting the bottle bathroom, and forming an assembly line. We are all very proud of the hard work we put in to help this community. Although we didn’t complete it by the end of our trip, we were able to assist the other workers in making a latrine and the water tank so the community could have access to cleaner water.
By the time we reached the lodge, everyone was very tired! Some enjoyed the pool and others took showers as soon as possible. Then, we all came to the tables for dinner. For dinner, we had lasagna, plantains, salad, broccoli, fruit, and pineapple juice. After dinner, we all came together to discuss how we felt about the day and express any feelings we had. Victoria and Emily did a great job facilitating the conversation! Before we ended the night, we met with our mentor groups.
It was a busy and hard day, but it was very rewarding and we are all very proud of the service we were able to provide!
Mary Cost, Yusuf Samimi, Maya Yacob