Sunday, November 18, 2012


The highlight of this week was getting the San Jose de Ocoa food project started.  The project was approved with 20 families participating.  We reviewed the objectives of the project, the financial processes, welfare principals related to the project, how families participate and the reporting required.  They are all very pleased with the project and want to do their best to ensure the project success.

We had time to visit the back yard where one of the participant family lives.  This is the typical situation of where the gardens are going to be built.  It is going to be very interesting to see how this develops over the next 2 years!

While we were in San Jose de Ocoa, we drove up into the mountains above the city to look at some tilapia farms.  The owner was nice enough to show us around and explain the process to us.  He totally believes tilapia can be grown on a small scale as a family production to supplement their diet.  He claims there is nothing difficult about it.  Tilapia thrive in the climate here, do not require expert care and are very forgiving. 

He has his own “toma” from the river (a point of take out) that supplies his ponds with a constant supply of fresh water.  He insisted we go look at it while we were there.

The purpose of our visit was to see the possibilities of including a little tilapia pond in Pres. Whalincon’s lot as part of the garden project.  It looks very feasible and this gentleman is willing to provide counsel and advice as needed and little tilapia to get started!  Wallace is convinced tilapia is a feasible small scale operation—more feasible than chickens.
Somehow Edith convinced Wallace to go inside the new Agora shopping mall here in Santo Domingo.

Edith thoroughly enjoyed herself.  Wallace was hyperventilating and needed to leave.  But Edith loved all 5 stories of the mall which is preparing for Christmas.

 On the other hand, it was an eye-popping gut wrenching experience for Wallace.    He couldn’t believe the luxury inside the mall and the extreme dichotomy of such a lavish mall in the middle of a city and country surrounded by poverty, lack of potable water, electricity that features regular blackouts, hospitals filled to the brim with sick and wounded who will receive little or inadequate care in hospitals with antiquated equipment, in rooms where the paint is peeling and no AC.  Where does the money come from to build a mall like this?  Who are these shoppers that can afford to shop here?  We had our windows washed twice, gave to one beggar and gave two cans of tuna to poor folk on the street on the way to this very mall.  What are the Dominicans doing themselves to solve their own country’s problems?  Foreign welfare money pores in to this county by the billions!  Are we really helping these people?  What is our proper role?  So many philosophical questions!  He now calls it the “Teremoto Mall”---earthquake mall.  It is doubtful Wallace will ever set foot in the place again.

Edith negotiating for bananas from a street vendor.

                                      Edith walking the path toward the Toma for the Tilapia farm.  Edith loves the many opportunities we have to walk little paths out in the hills.
Juan Mateo, his wife, Edith and Whalicon Mateo.  This picture does not do the countryside justice.  The landscape is gorgeous.  A camera lense just doesn't capture the beauty.  Wallace has picked out several lots or little farms he would like to buy with million dollar views over the valley.  He wants a little house with no running water, outdoor latriine, a tilapia pond, a little garden, some chickens and a rocking chair to watch the sun set over the mountain.  The only trouble is, he hasn't convinced Edith yet.

                                                    Girl washing her hair in the front yard
Typical street in Sabana Large where the tilapia farm is


  1. What a week! Encouraging and discouraging. Fear for tomorrow and scarcity of unconditional love make it hard for many people to accept the Master teaching about living simply and joyfully from day to day.

  2. You are doing a great work.
    It seems to me that you always wanted a fish farm. Now is your opportunity.

  3. Wallace and Mel have the same feelings about malls. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. From humble to lavish, makes you think very profound thoughts! Tilapia farm does sound very interesting. Can't wait to hear about progress on this.