Saturday, August 25, 2012

Storm Isaac

For Pictures only click HERE
A tropical storm has been brewing now for days to the east and is headed our way.  It is now noon on Friday when it was first predicted to hit and there is no sign of a major storm.  The waves are kicking up higher, but that is all.  We have moved valuables off the floor and have packed an emergency backpack.  However, I don’t know what good that would do because there is no-where to go.  There isn’t much excitement among the native people.  You ask them what we should do to prepare for the storm and they say, “Enjoy it”.  We called our short term specialist visitors in the US to reconsider their flight because it isn’t safe to fly and hazardous to drive on flooded roads, but they have decided to come anyway.

Saturday, 25 Aug update:  Our specialists got to Atlanta, Georgia and the flight was canceled.  So they returned to Salt Lake and will not come until October.  We are still getting rain.  It rained most of the afternoon yesterday and most of the night.  Some people have been flooded out, but we are dry, just stuck in our apartment with little to no internet service.  Our area did not experience high winds, so all is well for us.  (the garden box even survived!  see the next story).

GARDEN BOX                                
One of our assignments is called the “Food Initiative”.  We were asked to help people start home gardens.  We are finding this very difficult to do, but are doing our best.  We visited 3 different times with the Ministry of Agriculture to understand what they recommend for people here in the Dominican Republic and to determine what resources they have to teach people.  They gave us a video to use that shows how to construct an elevated box.  A lot of people do not have yards, but they have a concrete patio or roof tops suitable for an elevated box.  Their plan is to have people construct them from discarded loading crates.  Since every crate we see that we could get our hands on is covering big holes in the sidewalk or street, Wallace decided to use their design principles and build one as a demonstration garden. 

The box is a wood frame with wire support on the bottom, then plastic, then perforated plastic pipe for drainage, then the substrate and an adjustable top with a plastic grid to protect the plants from the strong sun around here and the heavy rains.  The top is lowered to the bottom to cover the seeds until they are sprouted.  The seeds came up in 4 days after planting and are well on their way.  We will see if the storm Isaac destroys it.
We are finding this project to be very difficult for several reasons.  1.  People eat rice, beans and chicken and then chicken, beans and rice.  They put in a few different things for flavor, but their diet is basically the same day in and day out.  Incidentally, the country has a very high incidence of diabetes.  Some people do have gardens, but their gardens consist of bananas, guineos, and mango.

It is very foreign to ask them to grow lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, chard, etc.  2.  It is a lot of work.  If you don’t understand or believe the benefits it is just too much work.    3. The distance between towns in the area we were assigned to go and the communication difficulties complicates things.  So far we haven’t started any gardens even though the Church is offering to purchase everything they need to do it.  We are developing processes to teach, manage and monitor the project as we go.

What people are really interested in are chickens.  If we were told to introduce a chicken project, there would be immediate interest.
We started a project with a new organization called “Rayos del Sol”.  It is an organization that takes in Down Syndrome children.  Typically these kind of people are pretty much abandoned and lead a pretty miserable life.  Buy Rayos de Sol has been having good success getting some of them back into the regular school system or teaching them a marketable skill such as these baskets made out of newpapers.


This is a picture of our wheelchair friend.  He is a gentleman with disfigured legs that is a recipient of a wheelchair donated by the Church.  It is amazing that he spends the entire day IN the street waving to people, smiling and enjoying or cheering up the world.  What is amazing is that he parks his wheelchair in the outsdie travel lane of a very busy street not at the side of the road or on the sidewalk, but in the street.  It is a miracle he isn’t hit.  Every time we go by he is so friendly and expresses gratitude for the wheelchair he got from the church.


  1. I hope you find the elusive answer to the "Food Initiative" project. I look forward to seeing what solutions arise. I also wonder why the diabetes is so high. I applaud your reluctance to glue on an ill-fitting solution.

  2. I would think that with their climate, growing a garden would be easier than it is here. But, I could be wrong. I suppose that if you told me to grow a garden so that I could grow a bunch of artichoke and lima beans, I probably wouldn't be interested. Maybe that is how they see lettuce, carrots, etc. Keep up the good work.