Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Elaborate and the Humble

15 July 2012   Rags and Riches.  Elaborate to Humble.  We saw both this week.  We were invited by Sur Futuro, one of the organizations we work with to a celebration held at a fancy hotel, El Embajador, and ended the week working on a water project among people of very humble circumstances.  One we had to recall all our Etiquette skills.  The other we hiked rough trails and roads working with a people who  survive with little to nothing.
SUR FURTRO celebrated the completion of an eleven year project called “Proyecto Sabana Yegua Sostenible”, a project to improve the sustainability of the land by creating 500 mini farms with irrigation, plants, education and other social improvements.  The Church was involved in one of their projects called the Arroyo Project.  Sur Futuro didn’t cut any corners and put on a very impressive program with full media coverage.  We were on the front row so we hope they didn’t catch us sleeping.

                               Wallace at a Grand Piano in the lobby of the Embajador Hotel
                                               where the Sur Futuro Event was held
LENORE GIBBS: 7 July 2012 Gary Montero the branch president of the Consuelo branch invited us to visit with a Catholic Nun about some potential humanitarian projects.  Her name is Lenore Gibbs.  Once again we found a wonderful kindred spirit.  Lenore came to Consuelo when she was 23 years at a time there was tremendous hatred among the native Dominicans, Haitains and Cocolos.  The schools were a mess.  She and two other Catholic nuns began working on the school system and after years of dedicated efforts managed to create a school system 2nd to none.  Almost everything they created came to ashes when the government took over their school.  They continued to work in the neighborhood and have succeeded in winning the hearts of the people and constructing an old folks home, an arts center and now they are constructing a large expansion of the old folks home and a technical high school.  Lenore is a wonderful person who like so many others here in the Dominican Republic have rendered wonderful service to the people over an extend period of time---in fact they have dedicated their lives.

This picture is of Pres. Gary Montero, Lenore Gibbs and the Haws in front of a Technical School that Lenore managed to get support sufficient that it is under construction.
                                                        Wallace with a 107 year old man

                                                              Leonore with a Haitian man
Most of the men brought to this facility are men who have worked hard all their lives until the day they dropped.  Not having any family or friends there were simply abandoned.  The lucky ones found their way to the old folk home run by Leonore.

Ambulance dispatch site

Not all of Lenore’s projects turned out good.  She managed to get an ambulance donated by someone out of the country.  It was supposed to be able to pass through customs for free, but by the time they paid the fees it was $240,000 pesos = about $6,170 US.  The town celebrated as the ambulance drove through town with the siren blasting.  The ambulance was taken over by the local government and ended up being the transportation for their families to go to the beach on vacation or to bring prostitutes into town.  The Ambulance broke and has been repaired once but is now needing repairs and just sits here at the ambulance dispatch.
We are still trying to figure out how we can help her given we do not construct buildings and we do not give money to people
AZUA:  Friday we traveled to Azua, 2 hours to the west to work on a water development project for three communities.  The people in these areas are very poor and have no water to their homes.  They have to buy water from the occasional water truck that comes by to fill their tanks or barrels. Many times they don’t have money to buy the water.  We are trying to help them with a project to bring water from the river to a tank on the hill then put in waterlines to the homes.
We first met with the Water Committee to plan what we were going to say to the Mayor.  It was a good experience helping them organize their thoughts and write out two main goals for the visit.  Unfortunately, the mayor chose to not attend and sent his executive secretary instead.  One of the purposes of the meeting was to get the support of the Mayor to apply a little pressure to the national water office INAPA that is responsible to provide water to the people.  INAPA up to this point has refused to listen to the pleas of the people.
Wallace was really in his element, hiking with GPS unit in hand, up and down the streets of the community taking readings so he could create a map.  Edith was sent down the hill to the river with community members.  It was supposed to be the short cut.  It took some hiking skills to get down and back up the hill.  Wallace carried his GPS and collected data every 20 houses along the path of the water line. Most of it we walked and some we drove in the little blue toyota corolla covering at least 8 kilometers in all. Edith spent her time walking slowly along visiting with a nice lady who is a member of the water committee.

There is very little employment in the area so most of the people we saw were just sitting in the shade trying to stay as cool as possible.  We don’t know what the temperature was, but it was very hot.  No-one has area conditioning or reliable power.  The power lines were just old pieces of wire strung together and held up with short pieces of branches.  There is no doubt the power is all stolen power just pieced together as people got brave enough to make another connection.  We only saw this one youth man putting together fishing line and hooks that was doing anything productive.  We are not saying this in a deraugatory way.  If you have no money or resourses or education, you haven’t eatten a decent meal in a long time, you are dirty because you have no water, and it is so hot it hurts to move around, then it is very difficult to be motivated about life.

These two little boys were fun to watch.  They were so engrossed in what they were doing, they didn’t see this white man walk quietly up to them and take their picture as they were intently trying to figure out how to make a kite out of a plastic bag and a short piece of string.  You can see they don't have many clothes on.  We watched them a little while and saw they had some success when they tied it to a long pole and lifted it up as high as they could.  This was the only toy they had to play with.  What if that were all you got for Christmas!
The following are some scenes we saw along the way.  The people in the blue shirts are members of the water committee.

Here are a couple of movies to watch. 

This plant shirks when you touch it and then comes to life in a few minutes.  It is some kind of defense mechanism.

Click here for pictures.
Here is a picture of us at a presentation

Wallace successfully completed collecting the data he needed and will try to figure out some way of getting it into a map so quantities can be taken and a cost estimate performed.  There are approximately 1000 home sites involved and about 600 families in this project.  All families are living without any running water.  The standard design value for water use is 10 liters per person per day = 2.6 gallons per person per day.  Can you imagine living on that little bit of water per day?

It was a fun and very interesting, but physically demanding week!

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure you two are having. Thanks for the updates and Happy Birthday Wallace!