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.

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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

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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

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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? 

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The following picture is of papaya trees.  They are short little stubby trees.
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  1. I remember filling up our little apartment water tanks in Honduras. One particular night I woke up and saw my flip flop floating across the floor.....I foolishly thought I would wake up in time to turn the water off.