Sunday, October 28, 2012


This was a great week.  If you want to just see pictures and movies click:  HERE

This has been a most exciting week as we traveled around to different water projects with Bill and Sue Whitney, Short Term Specialist over water projects, visiting from Salt Lake.
  Wallace is riding a Mule (Spanish = Mula) in the little town of Monte Bonito where we are considering a water project.

This is one of a few water sources that come from a pipe a distance upstream from the community.  Sometimes there is water in the hose and sometimes not.

The water in the river is not potable.  Most people have to walk several blocks to these points. 

If water is not available in the pipe, they walk to a pond below the village, which is right next to where they do the laundry.

Being downhill, it collects runoff from latrines, animal pens and filth.  They desperately need a new water source.

Wallace conversed with the old man in the upper left of this picture.  He is standing in front his house.  He is 77, has a deformed hand and wrist resulting from a machete accident, has severe cataracts and cannot see out of one eye.  No-one has running water inside their home.  Every family has their own latrine.
This week was the conclusion of one our humanitarian projects in Sabana Grande de Boya.  We provided a computer, printer and projector that a non-profit organization ODDH needed to conduct a Business Development course.  These were the graduating students at our closing ceremony.  We really feel good about this project

We traveled to Parra, a little community up in the hills above San Jose de Ocoa to visit a proposed water project.  In the process we visited with Whalincon Mateo and his family who live in a little tiny humble home and presented his wife with a blackboard and chalk she wanted to teach a pre-school class in her home and a handcrank sewing machine that the Whitneys brought from the US.

They are a wonderful family.  Whalincon is the most positive person we have ever met.  They are happy and doing the best they can with what they have.

Notice how sister Mateo has tried to decorate her humble home.  Frankly, we don’t think that we have seen a happier family in the richest home in America.
The drive to the Mateo home in Parra is up a steep road and across a river.  It had rained recently so the river was higher than normal.  At one point you have to pass within 12 inches of a steep vertical drop off.  The Whitney’s would not stay in the vehicle the first time we crossed even though Wallace wasn’t that nervous having crossed it twice before in the past and knowing that trucks and other vehicles frequently pass that way.
We spent a little time touring the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo while the Whitneys were here.

These buildings were built 500 years ago.

Friday and Saturday we traveled to Puerto Plata and did a little touring and swimming in the ocean before we had our water meetings there.

The following picture was taken at a non-profit Ambulance organization.  The Presidents little boys run the emergency radios.  The Stake President in the area is considering doing a humanitarian project for them.

Hurricane Sandy passed through the area this week dropping well over 12 inches of rain, knocking down trees and power poles. 

Though we don’t feel much closer on any of the water projects, it was a fun and interesting week.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Don't Lose your Passport!

One of the important things we learned this week is it can be a real pain in the neck if you lose your passport!  We had a Short Term Specialist visiting from the United States last week to help with the Neonatal Training Course here in Santo Domingo and Santiago.  He decided to stay a couple of days longer to site see.  In the process he lost his passport on Sunday.  He was scheduled to leave the country, but could not.  Since the US Embassy was closed on Monday, he could not start the process of acquiring an emergency passport until Tuesday.  After waiting in long lines and paying another $160 he managed to get a new passport and was in a position to leave on Wednesday.  He went to the airport and after 8 hours of on again-off again his flight was canceled and he had to stay another day.  He finally left almost a week later than he had planned to leave.  We always keep our original passport at home and carry around with us a colored copy of our passport.

Centro Universitario Regional Del Nordeste (CURNE)

We participated in the closing of this Project in the city of San Francisco de Macoris, a 2 hour drive from Santo Domingo.  We left at 6:30am in the morning accompanied by Dra. Olga Arroyo of the Ministry of Health.  The University constructed a new laboratory, but had no medical lab equipment to put into the lab.  The Church donated several nice pieces of equipment.   There are 15,000 students in the University.  It was interesting to participate in the closing of this project.


left to right: Hermana and President Núñez, Leonardo de la Cruz, Dra. Olga Arroyo, Evanglista Rosario, Hermana and Presidente García, Senora Jimenez (Subdirector of the University), Hermana and Elder Haws, Rafael Álvarez Castillo (Director of the University)
Sister Haws had the opportunity to cut the ceremonial ribbon at the same time as the Director of the University to open the new laboratory.

Immediately after the closing ceremony for the project at CURNE we visited the Hospital San Vincent de Paul for another closing ceremony.  The Church donated several pieces of equipment for the Neonatal room in the Hospital. 

This hospital seemed particularly Spartan even by the Dominican standards, so they were in desperate need for the equipment the Church donated.  After the closing ceremony, they took us on a short tour of the hospital.  In one room we visited with a little mother who had come in with a premature baby born at home who was not doing well.  The infant was so small and was nothing but skin and bones.  The baby appeared to us to be in a desperate situation and needed to be in intensive care with IVs attached, intravenous feeding warmed in an incubator.    The only thing they could do for mother and child was to instruct the mom to hold the baby close to her skin so it would receive warmth from the mother’s body and to nurse the baby.  We felt so sad and afraid for its ability to survive because the baby seemed so small and past the ability to nurse. 

Every time we visit a hospital we are remind of where our own country will end up if we continue on the path of socialized medicine that we are headed towards.  Long lines, inadequate care, equipment failures, etc.  The national government simply cannot do medical care well.

Before we left Wallace took this picture that only he seems to find the humor in.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saving Lives

One hundred and four doctors and nurses in the Dominican Republic participated in two outstanding trainings for neonatal care during the week of September 29-Oct 5th.  The Ministry of Health and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints combined their efforts to provide the courses. Ten facilitators of the course were trained on Saturday, 28th Sep 2012 in Santo Domingo. Short term specialist, Dr. Lloyd Jensen from Pocatello, Idaho invited Dr. Johnnie Cook and nurse, Jeff Richardson, both from Utah, to assist him in the training.  Dr. Jensen’s wife, Chantel was also present to take care of registration, paper work and certificates. After the Saturday training, the facilitators were prepared to teach other doctors who would then go back to their hospitals where they could train even more doctors in their hospitals live saving knowledge and skills for the care of newborns.

The main course was held on Monday and Tuesday Oct 1-2 in Santo Domingo and then again on Thursday and Friday, Oct 4-5 in Santiago at the Santiago South Stake Center.  Fifty-five participated in the first training and Forty-Five in the second.  If you know Spanish you will enjoy reading the press release on the training in Santo Domingo at:

This was an intense week for Edith and Wallace as they transported the Doctors to the training location each day, took care of registering participants, feeding the participants lunch and providing dinner to the visiting Doctors each evening.  Edith drew on her experience as Cub Scout District Training Chairman, preparing the registration packets and then getting them out to those registered in a timely manner.  Wallace was the driver and did an excellent job running all the errands and transporting everyone between Santo Domingo and Santiago, which are about two and a half hours apart.

It was a real privilege to be part of this experience realizing that this training had the potential of saving thousands of newborn babies as the lifesaving principles were first taught and then in turn each participant would go out and train at least ten more nurses or doctors at their own hospitals.  There were 28 hospitals represented at the training.  They each took home a textbook, and equipment for their hospital.

Rubbing shoulders with the doctors was also a privilege.  We were with them about twelve hours a day for ten days.  We did take a sightseeing trip to the waterfalls in Jarabacoa on the trip to Santiago.  This time the “Saltos de Jimenoa” had abundant water in them from all the rain we have received this past week.  We exhausted ourselves by hiking both waterfalls, but enjoyed our break from the classroom.