Saturday, June 30, 2012

Batey 8


It is amazing!  There are some very musical people that live in the DR. Last Monday night we attended a group Family Home Evening at the “Casa” (Housing for all the Temple Missionaries).  A Dominican Men’s Choir sang for us and they were outstanding!  Most Chapels we visit do not have a piano and the congregation sings a cappella.   The Men’s Choir were amazing achieved unity in their tone and beautiful harmony.

Our Salt Lake visitors, Kelvyn and Kay Culimore left the DR for Haiti on Tuesday.  They offered much experience in the major initiatives of Wheelchairs and Food Production.  We spent many hours discussing the Food Initiative which involves growing a garden for now.  Most people here do not have land and it is very difficult for them to a garden, but we gave some ideas for consideration and will see where the people take it from here.  It is up to individual Ward/Branches to make a proposal before we start a project.

Wednesday this week, we traveled to Barahona.  Barahona is a town on the seashore about 3 to 4 hours to the West from Santo Domingo (depending on how early you leave to miss the Santo Domingo traffic).  We met with the District President and one of his counselors.  They are excited about the Food Initiative because they are both agronomists by trade.

After the meeting, as we were driving we came to an intersection where the traffic signal was not working (a very common occurance).  We came to a near full stop and then because there was no traffic Wallace drove on through the intersection.  3 blocks up the road we were pulled over and given a ticket for driving through the intersection.  Wallace argued the light didn’t work, but the police said to turn and look and sure enough the light was working ! (At least from his direction).  It was a total setup!  The process here is you go to a Progressive Bank (the national bank) with your ticket to pay the fee.    We haven’t gone yet, so we don’t know how much it will be.

From Barahona we traveled to Vicente Noble where we met the local Branch President who went with us to a little community called Batey 8.  This is a Haitian community.  Everywhere we have gone to in the Dominican Republic, every home has a water tank on the roof or a cistern below ground with a pump and pressure tank.  The reason is that the water can disappear in the public water lines without notice for hours or days at a time.  In the case of this community, it has a small elevated water tank and one submersible pump to provide water to the entire community.  The water committee decided to only run water for 3 hours every day beginning at 5 pm except for the bathing pond shown latter in this report.  Everyone has a water spigot in their front yard, but the keys are removed from all of them.  The school in the community is at the very end of the water system and only receives a trickle of water even when there is water.  They need major repairs to their water tank, a new pump, drinking fountains, a water filter and to expand the size of the 1” water line that feeds the school.
We are partnering with World Water Relief on this project.  They will be installing the pump and a filter.  We will be paying for part of the water system and possibly offering a fence and a couple of basketball standards to the school.  They need the fence to provide a barrier between the playground and a very large irrigation ditch.

Notice the “outhouses” in the background of the photo.  (One is visible just over Wallace’s right ear).  How would you school kids like to use those for your bathrooms? (No running water, and the latrines are full).

While at Batey 8 we noticed a couple of families using the public “bathtub” at the base of the water tank.  It was a hot day and certainly a place to cool off and get a good shampoo. 
Thursday, 28 July, we went to our second closing ceremony for Innovacion Orthopedia as they fitted 5 patients with new prosthetics.

The above photo features our neighbors, the Hammons, with 4 of the recipients of new prosthetic legs. The girl is 8 years old and was born with a deformed foot and hand on her right side. The picture below is of Silvia, a 60 year old that received her first prosthesis.  She was referred by a member of the Church from Canada who met her while in the DR on vacation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cabirma, Pozo Prieto, Cabia



So much has happened the last 2 weeks it is difficult to believe it has only been 2 weeks.  We are writing this 24 June 2012.

                                                                             Figure 169  Family Vehicle

We visited the branch in Consuelo and attended their meetings on Sunday.  This is a little branch about a 2 hour drive in a eastern direction from our home; a new area for us.  The branch president is a young returned missionary doing a monumental job against great odds.  We explained to him how we as humanitarian missionaries could help him help the poor in his area. The above picture is pretty typical—not an exceptional thing.  This is a family on their way home from church.  The dad took the kids home, then came back for mom and the little girl. 

                                                              Figure 170  Pres. Almonte and Elder Haws

During the week we drove to Santiago about a 3 hour drive to the north to attend an event where we donated some things to a Catholic Orphanage.  On the way another car clipped our front bumper and kept driving.  Pres Almonte gave me a metal clothes hanger and we were able to wire it back together.  The next week I backed into another car and caved in the back door.  We lost the day hunting up the owner and then going with him to the police station to report the accident.  That is how things are done here  On the way home from Santiago, Edith bought a colorful rug from these ladies.

                                                                                               Figure 171  Carpets

                                      
                                                            Figure 172

It is common to see people sitting on chairs in front of their houses or on the sidewalk playing dominoes, the national past time.

We took the time on a Monday to go on a short excursion with Dennis and Diana Despain.  We went to tourist shop where Edith bought a ring made of larimar and we toured Bolivar park.

The Despains are temple works and do not have a car assigned to them, so they are appreciative of us scheduling our time once in a while to take them places.  They have a pretty standard routine every week with specific assignments and days they are to work.  On the other hand we make our own schedule and do whatever we want, when we want with our own car. 

                                                                 
Later in the week we drove 4 hours north to Puerto Plata.  We visited one of the popular spots on the island, the Teleferico.  It is a cable car that takes you to the top of a high mountain to where a statue of Christ has been constructed at a beautiful over look point of the bay far below.

                                                                   Fig 175
                                     
                                                          Fig 176
                                                          Fig 177
Fig 178
The reason we drove to Puerto Plata was to discuss a water project in 3 little communities:  Cabirma, Pozo Prieto and Cabia.  This is a project started by the previous missionaries.  Following the pattern we established on other projects, we involved the stake president immediately at the beginning of the project.  He called a meeting for the mayor of the community, members of the water committee, a contractor and a representative of CARITAS a Catholic Charitable organization and us to discuss and plan the project.  The stake president took charge, conducted a wonderful meeting that was very productive.  The following picture is of the committee put together for the project.

                                                                   Fig 179
After the meeting at the church house, members of the water committee took us to visit the proposed water project site.  Our first visit was to see a pump the church has installed 5 years ago.  It is still working fine.  There were people that used the pump while we were there.  As we learn more about the project, we will need to determine how many people are using the pump and what the current conditions are.  It doesn’t make sense to spend money on a location that has water when other locations are suffering much more. 

In another part of town they have an electrical submersible pump that supplies part of the community with water.  They have no tank so they turn the pump on for 3 hours every other day.  When the pump is running people open a water tap that allows the water to run into a small tank in each home.  When their individual tank is full, they turn the tap off and those higher on the system can fill their tanks.  The families have to make it last until the pump is turned on again. 

                                
                                                               Fig 180

                                       
                                                       Fig 181
The committee drove us to the top of a little knoll where they envisioned installing a new water tank.  Throughout the trip Wallace was taking readings with his GPS unit to determine location and elevation for the important locations of the project. There turns out to be only a few homes who have absolutely no easy water supply. These people have to haul all their water and purchase clean water with a huge percentage of their monthly income.

 The last location they took us to, we had a very big surprise.  There stood a large concrete water tank about 40’ square.  The committee explained it had been installed by the government 10 years ago.  There were no pipes to it and no pipes leading from it.  We didn’t explain to them or try to show our astonishment at this discovery.  Wallace is absolutely sure there is a detailed water study someplace justifying the expense to install such a large water tank.  The water committee is ignoring the existence of this perfectly good water tank and intending to install a completely new one. 

It seems to us that we are finding that many of the humanitarian projects implemented in the past were done on a whim without a thorough examination of costs, options, or social impact or need.  In this case, the prior missionaries were advancing rapidly to do whatever the citizens wanted without requiring community involvement and without examining thoroughly.  We discovered when we returned home and entered the GPS points into our program that the existing tank is actually the highest point in the system, so there doesn’t make any sense to install a new expensive water tank.  We assigned a member of the water committee to go do the research at the government and find out what the water service area was for the tank.  The overall cost of the project will be greatly reduced if all we have to do is run a little bit of pipe to the new tank.

We are reminded over and over that these projects are “Social” projects more than anything else. 
                            
                                                     Fig 182
This week  Kelvyn and Kaye Cullimore and Steve and Ann Spencer, Short Term Specialists came to spend the week with us.  They are responsible for the Food and Wheelchair Major Initiatives in many parts of the world.  We visited a lot of places as part of their stop here on their way to Haiti.  We visited more places than we can recount as we inspected our wheelchair partners and discussed a Food Initiative with several small branches of the church in San Juan de La Maguana, Azua, Bonao and Santo Domingo.  We also visited the Ministry of Agricultural to see if we could partner with them to start some projects.  We found out they have a lot of resources including free seeds.  They showed us an elevated box they designed that people can put on top of their roofs if they do not have any garden at their homes

                                                                     Fig 183

                                       
                                                              Fig 184
We visited with a branch president of a little congregation who had had chickens at one time.  His experience is demonstrative of the reason why we have decided not to include chickens in this first food project.  He has no job.  Somehow he scraped together enough money to buy 20 chicks.  He raised them to the point they were laying eggs.  Then every time one of his members came to the house and asked him for an egg, he would let them rob the coop.  His family rarely got to eat any eggs.  One by one his family ate a chicken until they were all gone and he had no more chickens.  That is exactly why we don’t want to spend a bunch of money on chickens until we can figure out how to control the project.  We decided to stick with gardens because they are less complicated.

                                                                Fig 185
We are getting calls from all over the place about the food project.  Here we are considering the possibility of using land owned by the church for a community garden.  There are so many social problems associated with it, I have little hopes this kind of project would ever be approved.

                                                                  Fig 186
As part of our wondering around we took a short detour and visited a Church camp in Bonao.  The next few pictures are of the camp.  We were totally blown away.  How is it possible the church spent this kind of money in a poverty stricken 3rd world country like the Dominican Republic? 

                                                                    Fig 187



                                                                        Fig 188

                                   
                                                                       Fig 189
The following picture is of papaya trees.  They are short little stubby trees.
                                            
                                                                                 Fig 190

Cabirma, Pozo Prieto, Cabia



So much has happened the last 2 weeks it is difficult to believe it has only been 2 weeks.  We are writing this 24 June 2012.

                                                                             Figure 169  Family Vehicle

We visited the branch in Consuelo and attended their meetings on Sunday.  This is a little branch about a 2 hour drive in a eastern direction from our home a new area for us.  The branch president is a young return missionary doing a monumental job against great odds.  We explained to him how we as humanitarian missionaries could help him help the poor in his area. The above picture is pretty typical—not an exceptional thing.  This is a family on their way home from church.  The dad took the kids home, then came back for mom and the little girl. 

                                                              Figure 170  Pres. Almonte and Elder Haws

During the week we drove to Santiago about a 3 hour drive to the north to attend an event where we donated some things to a Catholic Orphanage.  On the way another car clipped our front bumper and kept driving.  Pres Almonte gave me a metal clothes hanger and we were able to wire it back together.  The next week I backed into another car and caved in the back door.  We lost the day hunting up the owner and then going with him to the police station to report the accident.  That is how things are done here  On the way home from Santiago, Edith bought a colorful rug from these ladies.

                                                                                               Figure 171  Carpets

                                                            Figure 172

It is common to see people sitting on chairs in front of their houses or on the sidewalk playing dominoes, the national past time.

We took the time on a Monday to go on a short excursion with Dennis and Diana Despain.  We went to tourist shop where Edith bought a ring made of laramar and we toured Bolivar park.

The Despains are temple works and do not have a car assigned to them, so they are appreciative of us scheduling our time once in a while to take them places.  The have a pretty standard routine every week with specific assignments and days they are to work.  On the other hand we make our own schedule and do whatever we want, when we want with our own car. 

                                                                 Fig173 Fig 174

Later in the week we drove 4 hours north to Puerto Plata.  We visited one of the popular spots on the island, the Teleferico.  It is a cable car that takes you to the top of a high mountain to where a statue of Christ has been constructed at a beautiful over look point of the bay far below.


Fig 175


Fig 176


Fig 177

The reason we drove to Puerto Plata was to discuss a water project in 3 little communities:  Cabirma, Pozo Prieto and Cabia.  This is a project started by the previous missionaries.  Following the pattern we established on other projects, we involved the stake president immediately at the beginning of the project.  He called a meeting for the mayor of the community, members of the water committee, a contractor and a representative of CARITAS a Catholic Charitable organization and us to discuss and plan the project.  The stake president took charge, conducted a wonderful meeting that was very productive.  The following picture is of the committee put together for the project.

Fig 178


Fig 179

After the meeting at the church house, members of the water committee to us to visit the proposed water project site.  Our first visit was to see a pump the church has installed 10 years ago.  It is still working fine.  There were people that used the pump while we were there.  As we learn more about the project, we will need to determine how many people are using the pump and what the current conditions are.  It doesn’t make sense to spend money on a location that has water when other locations are suffering much more. 



In another part of town they have an electrical submersible pump that supplies part of the community with water.  They have no tank so they turn the pump on for 3 hours every other day.  When the pump is running people open a water tape that allows the water to run into a small tank in each home.  Well their individual tank is full, they turn the tap off and those higher on the system can fill their tanks.  The families have to make it last until when the pump is turned on again. 




Fig 180


Fig 181

The committee drove us to the top of a little knoll where they envisioned installing a new water tank.  Throughout the trip Wallace was taking readings with his GPS unit to determine location and elevation for the important locations of the project. There turns out to be only a few homes who have absolutely no easy water supply. These people have to haul all their water and purchase clean water with a huge percentage of their monthly income.



 The last location they took us to, we had a very big surprise.  There stood a large concrete water tank about 40’ square.  The committee explained it had been installed by the government 10 years ago.  There were no pipes to it and no pipes leading from it.  We didn’t explain to them or try to show our astonishment at this discovery.  Wallace is absolutely sure there is a detailed water study someplace justifying the expense to install such a large water tank.  The water committee is ignoring the existence of this perfectly good water tank and intending to install a completely new one. 



It seems to us that we are finding that many of the humanitarian projects implemented in the past were done on a whim without a thorough examination of costs, options, or social impact or need.  In this case, the prior missionaries we advancing rapidly to do whatever the citizens wanted without requiring community involvement and without examining thoroughly.  We discovered when we returned home and entered the GPS points into our program that the existing tank is actually the highest point in the system, so there doesn’t make any sense to install a new expensive water tank.  We assigned a member of the water committee to go do the research at the government and find out what the water service area was for the tank.  The overall cost of the project will be greatly reduced is all we have to do is run a little bit of pipe to the new tank.



We are reminded over and over that these projects are “Social” projects more than anything else. 




Fig 182



This week the Kelvyn and Kaye Cullimore, Short Term Specialist came to spend the week with us.  They are responsible for the Food and Wheelchair Major Initiatives in many parts of the world.  We visited a lot of places as part of their stop here on their way to Haiti.  We visited more places than we can recount as we inspected our wheelchair partners and discussed a Food Initiative with several small branches of the church in San Juan de La Maguana, Azua, Bonao and Santo Domingo.  We also visited the Ministry of Agricultural to see if we could partner with them to start some projects.  We found out they have a lot of resources including free seeds.  They showed us an elevated box they designed that people can put on top of their roofs if they do not have any garden at their homes


Fig 183


Fig 184

We visited with a branch president of a little congregation who had had chickens at one time.  His experience is demonstrative of the reason why we have decided not to include chickens in this first food project.  He has no job.  Somehow he scraped together enough money to buy 20 chicks.  He raised them to the point they were laying eggs.  Then every time one of his members came to the house and asked him for an egg, he would let them rob the coop.  His family rarely got to eat any eggs.  One by one his family ate a chicken until they were all gone and he had no more chickens.  That is exactly why we don’t want to spend a bunch of money on chickens until we can figure out how to control the project.  We decided to stick with gardens because they are less complicated.


Fig 185

We are getting calls from all over the place about the food project.  Here we are considering the possibility of using land owned by the church for a community garden.  There are so many social problems associated with it, I have little hopes this kind of project would ever be approved.


Fig 186

As part of our wondering around we took a short detour and visited a Church camp in Bonao.  The next few pictures are of the camp.  We were totally blown away.  How is it possible the church spent this kind of money in a poverty stricken 3rd world country like the Dominican Republic? 


Fig 187






Fig 188


Fig 189




Fig 190

Sunday, June 10, 2012

SURGERY

Edith experienced surgery in the Dominican Republic this week!  But we will reserve that report to the end of this week’s report to keep your attention.

We drove to the “Parque Mirador del Sur” to do our morning walk.  It is a long skinny park with running and biking trails that is very popular.  We wanted to visit the park for the fun of it and to test our the GPS unit Wallace is planning to use on the water projects.  Wallace concluded it is find for horizontal, but is way off vertically.

                                 
                                                                  Figure 152 Edith at Mirador Park

                                                             Figure 153 Curb and Gutter construction

All you civil engineers out there will be interested in the sub-base used for this curb and gutter construction.

Last Sunday we took the Despain couple with us to visit the wards in Bonao (about a 1.5 hour drive north of Santo Domingo) and then to visit the “Hogar de Ancianos” an old folks home.  Wallace had taken his Ukulele, which Elder Despain played while we sang “Amazing Grace” and “I am a child of God” to the residents.  The Hogar de Ancianos is a home for old people run by 4 little Catholic Nuns.  They are doing a marvelous work.  We provided them with some equipment they needed.

                                                   Figure 154 Despains and Haws' singing with Ukulele

                                                     Figure 155 Edith greeting some of the residents
We had a wonderful visit at the Hogar de Ancianos and once again reminded us of the many people of all faiths who see a need in their community and don’t just talk about it, but do something even without support of the government.  One of the nuns pulled out her guitar and they sang for us before we left the home.  It was a very special occasion that touched our hearts.

We also went to Alcarizzos to visit CONANI.

The following picture is of the ward committee that was organized by the bishop in preparation for our visit.
                                
                                                      Figure 156 Los Alcarrizos ward committee

                                                                              Figure 157 Huelga

We experienced our first “Huelga” on the way to CONANI.  It was a street riot.  We don’t know what they were rioting about, but we were glad we were in our car, even though we were stuck in traffic right in front of them for a little while.

                                                                   Figure 158 CONANI School
CONANI is a school established to take in children who have terrible home situations.  They teach them and feed them and then send them home at night.  They are doing a wonderful work.  The ward committee is putting together a project to include some play equipment for the children and to fix the bathrooms which do not flush.  It was a pretty ugly scene there!

                                                             Figure 159 Street Meat Vendor

                                                         Figure 160 Man sleeping on the sidewalk
It is not uncommon to see homeless men sleeping on the sidewalk.  It really pulls at your heart strings.

                                                          Figure 161 Via Verde Mother
We visited a place called Via Verde this week.  It is by far the poorest all anywhere we have visited so far.  The people mostly live in wooden shacks with tin roofs and dirt floors.  Most do not have any electricity and few have any running water. 
                                                                     Figure 162 Little girl in Via Verde

                                                            Figure 163 Edith, children and Wallace
This is a land of extreme contrasts.  What was our surprise to also see this house under construction in Via Verde!

                                                     Figure 164 Three Story house in Via Verde

                                     
                                                          Figure 165 Dominican Scouts Headquarters

                                                                  Figure 166 Guard with chicks
Our guard is taking a phycology class on Saturdays.  During the week he is learning about human nature as he studies his chicks and trying to teach them tricks!

Now we will tell you the story about the surgery!

June 10, 2012:  About two and a half weeks ago Edith noticed a bump on her neck.  At first she thought it was an infected mole, but it was hard and never came to a head.  Also it started growing larger. After consulting the area medical advisor and a dermatologist from the States (over the internet), Edith was off to get it biopsied. Luckily there was a Dermatologist by the name of Jaime Martinez, who had an office within walking distance of our apartment.  His name was listed on the Bluecard Worldwide Medical guide.

  After touring medical facilities in the country, Edith was a little apprehensive at first, but when Dr. Martinez walked in his one room office with a simple ceiling fan overhead, he was very confident and immediately recognized the growth as a “Queratoacantoma” (Keratoacanthoma in English).  This just so happened to be one of the possible diagnosis that the dermatologist in the States had given. Dr. Martinez said the growth had to be biopsied, in fact he said he would remove the whole thing.  Edith was in surgery the next day.  The surgery center was next door to the doctor’s office. 

                                             
                                                                 Figure 167 Dr. Martinez and Edith

Surgery is different in the DR than in the USA.  The doctor performs surgeries every day at 3 p.m.  No waiting.  Dr. Martinez was there to personally escort us back to the operating room.  One operating room and one changing room is all there was.  The equipment was adequate and clean.  No recovery room was needed.  When finished the doctor personally escorted us back to his office to pay, then handed us a jar with the growth in it to be taken to the pathologist.  We walked across the street to the pathologist and paid him.  Then walked to the pharmacy to get antibiotic and pain pills, then back to the surgery center to pay our bill.  It was all completed in a little under three hours.  No hassle, just paid in cash.  The pharmacy even hands you back your prescription and sells the pain pills by the pill, you just say what you want, come back if you need more.

The walk to the doctor was easy enough.  A car would have been in the way as it is very difficult to find any parking.  In reality we paid a lot less than this kind of procedure would have cost in the States.  We paid a total of $15,000 Pesos or about $390 US which includes, Doctor, Surgery Center, Pharmacy, Pathologist and follow up visits.

                                        
                                                                          Figure 168 Edith's Stitches
The results were received three days after surgery.  It was indeed a Keratoacanthoma, no cancer.  Stitches to be removed ten days later and a follow up visit in a month, are all included in our payment.