Monday, February 25, 2013

130224 Wheelchairs

The wheelchair shipment has arrived!  This arrival was much anticipated by our three wheelchair partners: Consejo Nacional Sobre Discapacidad (CONADIS), Asociación de Personas con Discapacidad Físico-Motora  (ASODIFIMO) and Asociación Dominica de Rehabilitación (ADR).  All three organizations were out of wheelchairs in June 2012 when this project was initiated with specialist Kelvin Cullimore.  The project was approved August 9, 2012 and the shipment was sent on December 22nd. The list of those needing the chairs has been growing longer as time passed and finally the shipment arrived on February 4, 2013.  It took two weeks to get the shipment out of customs.  Tuesday, February 19th a big delivery/ distribution ceremony was held.  Wallace was asked to sit at the head table and give a speech.  He was also interviewed to appear on the evening news!

Margaret Rodriguez, Directora Relacions Públicas, ADR conducts.  Seated at the head table are: Wallace Haws, LDS; Arturo Perez, ADR; Mary Perez Marranzini, ADR; Magino Corporan, CONADIS; Miguel Garcia, ASODIFIMO

Items donated by the Church included 1,100 Wheelchairs, 250 walkers, 250 canes, 240 crutches, 90 canes for the blind, 160 pressure relief cushions and 4 parts repair kits.  As part of this project the Church also purchased 200 Rough Rider Wheelchairs that were constructed in the country at the ADR facility.
Our second meeting with INAPA and the Azua Water Committee took place this week.  INAPA is the government agency in charge of municipal water systems here in the DR.  The committee has to travel two hours by taxi to Santo Domingo.  This is a big sacrifice for them, because they are all poor, but they are motivated to make this project happen and INAPA is listening.   INAPA has already been to Azua to study the place to drill a well and to test the water.   The results are still pending.  We ask ourselves why is INAPA cooperating so well?  Another question comes to our minds, “What is the influence of two North Americans sitting in a conference room?”    Humanitarian Missionaries walk a fine line between helping and ending up funding the total bill.  There are limits to what will be approved in funding, so we have to be careful.  The good thing is that there are many organizations that are helping in the DR and we hope with the right contacts, we can get this community of 9,000 people some water close to their homes.
We met with the San Geronimo Ward to help with a quilt project.  Keeli Billings is here from the States while her husband works at the US Embassy.  The women of the Ward were so excited when Keeli arranged to get some quilt material donated from people she knew in the states.  No one had ever quilted or embroidered before.  She needed help showing them how to do the work.  We came to help and found that the ladies are fast learners and excited to meet every Thursday evening until the projects are complete.  One of the ladies asked, “How do you get packages?”  She explained that there was mail service through the US Embassy.  While there are delivery services here, they are not always trustworthy and there is no regular mail delivery system.  Can you imagine not being able to order anything over the internet?  No or eBay  for the natives here.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


We traveled to Batey 8 near Vicente Noble, 3 hours from Santo Domingo on Wednesday to attend a closing ceremony for a water purification system installed by World Water Relief in the community school and financed by the Church.  A Batey is a sugar cane plantation supported by cheap labor, usually Haitians, who typically live in a small very poor community next to the field.  Most have lived there for generations---stuck in the grip of poverty from one generation to the next. 

The water purification project was a success and did much good for the school by giving them good clean water to drink as well as repaired the bathrooms.  Can you imagine sending your little school kids to a school with no bathrooms and no water and no air-conditioning in the middle of July in Arizona?  That is what is like to go to school in a Batey.

The closing ceremony was a lot of fun.  Wallace took his ukulele.  Nobody here in the DR ever knows what a ukulele is.  They think it is some kind of weird guitar.  Wallace has fun with that commenting he is feeding the little guy a lot of habichuelas and rice so it can grow up to be a guitar.  Wallace called a little boy out of the crowd and let him hold the ukulele and strum it.  The shy little boy was scared to death, but he was a big hit with his class mates. 
Standing on top of the water cisterned repaired by the project
As we were driving back from the closing ceremony, Pres. Figuereo asked us if we could get a new wheelchair for a homeless man they call Balechucho who lives in Vicente Noble.  Here is a picture of Balechucho.
Balechucho is mentally crazy as a result of an accident according to Pres Figuereo.  Balechucho was abandoned by his family and now wanders the streets (usually in the middle of the street where traffic has to dodge around him) begging food.  Every once in a while the members of the church take him to the church where they bath him and give him a new change of clothes.  This is a picture we took of him.  He is smoking a cigarette or at least he has a cigarette which he uses to burn the Styrofoam cup he wears on his head.  The wheel chair has no foot rests so his feet are pretty scarred from dragging on the asphalt and one of the front wheels is missing.  He couldn’t carry on an intelligent conversation.  We are going to get him a new Rough Rider all-terrain wheel chair to make his life just a little bit easier.
CONFIA EN DIOS (Trust in God)
It never ceases to amaze us how Dominicans are able to keep cars and motos running.  We see thousands of cars like this taxi every day.  The tires are bare, the motor leaks oil like a sieve, and yet with “Trust in God (Confia en Dios)” they just keeping running and running and running.  These little cockroach stinkers (chatarra=junk metal) pretty much claim the right of way because they have nothing to lose in a fender bender
Wallace is still trying to make a go of gardening at the Bishop’s Storehouse.  He took his truck around the corner and picked up leaves, brought it home to mix with sand, rice hulls and a little of the native dirt.

(sorry Elder Hammon, your tomatoes had to be sacrificed in the name of scientific progress.)
We ended the week by traveling to the Mesopotamia branch to work out some kinks in the food project in that branch.  The following picture is of the Elder’s Quorum president who started his own beautiful garden without any help from the Church!  That is the best way.  Maybe our visits are paying off a little bit.  He has tomatoes, peppers and potatoes in great abundance.  He is really proud of his work and so are we.  He has no more money than anyone else, but somehow found a way to get free seeds, some soil amendments, the tools, etc and has a beautiful garden.  He is a great example for the rest.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Garden Class in Santo Domingo

If you just want to look at pictures click HERE
The highlight of the week was teaching a gardening class to about 50 members of the Santo Domingo Stake.  We have been preparing for this for quite a while by collecting the materials recommended by the Dominican Ministry of Agriculture.  We invited them to come teach and they had agreed to come teach, but it never materialized so we did our best.
Wallace felt very inadequate teaching the class given he still hasn’t personally experienced much success in growing a garden here.  Everything is different.  The natural ground here in Santo Domingo is either coral rock or VERY heavy clay that is difficult to deal with.  We ended trying to put together a grow box using the instructions we learned from the Ministry of Agriculture, but still haven’t had much success.
It is very difficult finding seeds here!  We are going to have to order from the states.
We showed a short video we got from the Ministry of Agriculture and a short video we had made showing a wide variety of types of gardens a person can install.  We gave out seeds and everyone had personal hands-on experience preparing artificial soil and planting a few seeds.  We had a great time.  Here are a few pictures from the class.

 Wallace can't talk without his hands

Edith at one of our project closings.

Edith hard at work at home.
We ended the week visiting with the San Juan 1 Branch Council about the food project.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Military, Addicts, Bomberos and Rice Hulls

 To all you avid readers of the “Haws DR Adventures”, we apologize for missing a week.  The days are speeding by and we were left exhausted unable to write a decent blog.  We will try to catch up.
Update on mail to the DR:  Please use this address in the future. We have discovered that letters will get here faster if this address is used (only for letters, not packages): 

                         Elder Wallace and Sister Edith Haws
                         Santo Domingo East Mission, Dominican Republic
                         2250 NW 114th Ave., Unit 1A
                        Miami, Florida 33172
We had an interesting encounter with Coronel Lizardo of the Dominican Republic Military.   We were asked to put together a project to purchase hand pumps to be installed in outposts along the Haitian border.  We felt very reluctant to get involved with this kind of project because it is the military.  We assumed they had one sided goals and felt we shouldn’t be doing for the government what they can and should be doing for themselves.  After counseling with the Area Presidency we have come to grips with our struggle to not help the government.  If we wait for the government to give proper attention and help to the hospitals like they should many people are going to suffer and die as a result for a very long time before the government gets their act together.  If we can help a little bit and relieve and tremendous amount of suffering then we should help.  The same principle applies to the Military pump project.  We visited with Coronel Lizardo.  He is a very pleasant man and explained the military has outposts along the Haitian border where there is no good source of water.  He wants us to purchase pumps and they will install them.  He told of the great difficulties local people in those areas have with water.  His goal is to not only help the 1 or 2 guys in a remote military post, but also provide water to the small pockets of people in those areas.  We consulted with the local priesthood leaders who verified the situation and are in favor with the project.  It is an interesting project for Wallace.  Here is Edith standing in front of the Coronel’s office building.

Hogar Crea is an organization helping men recover from their drug addiction.  They have offices in a lot of places in the Dominican Republic and are doing a great work.  They struggle providing for their needs.  The project will purchase a few items they need to do their work better.  They also want to expand their food production program.  We may include chickens and/or pigs as well as expand their garden area.
The gentlemen to the left of Wallace is Pres. Soriano of the Monte Plata Branch.
One of the residents displaying their habichuela crop.  (beans)

We visited the Bomberos (fire station) at the request of the District President.  The station is in an old dilapidated fort built in 1813.  The bomberos need a little help but are doing an amazing job on their own.  The have been able to get help from several fire stations in the United States.  Every fireman’s suit has a different name on it being donated from different stations in the US.  Their equipment is mostly hand-me-downs from US fire departments.  They are the only ones providing 1st response and ambulance service.  Their ambulance is a Van which they took the seats out of, strapped an oxygen mask and put in a gurney.  We have a lot of fun when we go on these visits.

The Chief of volunteers is demonstrating an antique pumper truck.
We are very proud of the San Jose de Ocoa branch.  The garden projects we started are off and running.  We are so happy about this.  We have been able to put in place a system that allows the branch president to govern the project on his own including purchase and delivery of things they need. 
Can you tell that Bro. Manual Soto is proud of his little garden?  It isn’t exactly how we would have handled it, but we think his project is a tremendous success that will lead him to other successful endeavors.

We took the opportunity to explain and introduce the Chicken project to the San Jose de Ocoa branch council.  The picture shows Wallace giving the instruction, but Edith did some of the instruction---in Spanish!

We also visited La Colonia Branch in Azua to introduce the food project to them this week.
On our way back from La Vega, we were hoping to get some rice hulls.  We stopped at a roadside restaurant and asked a man in the front if he knew where a plant was located that processes rice.  We knew there had to be one in the area because of all the rice fields.  He volunteered to show us and as luck would have it, the plant was within a short distance; the guard let us in and said we could have what we wanted.  It only cost us $200 to pay the guard to help us load the truck and $250 for the 1st man to show us the plant and to help us load the truck.  (pesos!)

Wallace is going to create a soil using the formula given by the Ministry of Agriculture (rice hulls, carbon and sand) to supplement our little garden and to use at a garden class we will be teaching next week.
Our good friends and mentors who lived next door finished their mission and returned home.  We miss them and wish them well.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Crismons next month who will be replacing the Hammons.

                                                       JoAnn and Darrell Hammon
The following are a couple of scenes from a hospital we are working with the local bishop to develop a project for. Both pictures are of the emergency room.