Mar 07

“Homeward Bound” (Day 8)

It is the last day of our adventure and it is bitter sweet.  It is exciting to be closing the distance between us and our friends and families.  It is equally hard to leave behind this Caribbean paradise filled with all of our new friends.  There will always be a piece of us that stays in the Dominican Republic.  It is not there because of the beautiful landscape and warm weather, but because of the impact that Liz, Juan, Martina, Sara, Victor, and so many other wonderful people had on us.

 

Leaving our home for the week was emotional to say the least.  Our gracious hosts looked just as sad to see us leaving as we were to go.  We traveled to the airport in true Dominican style, playing Reggaeton and Merengue music and having a dance party with Pepe the van driver.  Our final salutations were made and we got on the airplane back to the states.

 

Looking out of the window back at the Dominican there is an overwhelming feeling that overcomes us.  It is rewarding to know how we impacted the lives of all of those Dominican and Haitian children and adults.  Even more notable is the impression that they all left on us.  Hopefully we all are bringing back a little piece of the Dominican.  Everyone can take a lesson from their humble and helpful way of life and the fact that individuals with so little still give everything that they possibly can to help a neighbor, friend, or a stranger.  We all should try to bring back a little bit of the “Island Time” lifestyle that we have grown to love.

 

Signing off for team Dominican 2014,

 

Eric L. and Caroline W. –Senior Nursing Students

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Mar 06

It’s “See You Later” Not “Goodbye”

Our last full day in the Dominican Republic started off with a short walk to the beautiful beach. The bright sunshine and salt water was exactly what we all needed. A few of us did not realize how strong the Dominican sun could be until we felt the painful touch of our clothing against our burnt skin. Upon returning to Loase, hunger struck the entire group. Tacos were made fresh and served by a local vendor in the hotel outdoor kitchen. With our bellies full, skin tanned, relaxed, and refreshed, we were prepared for our final hours with the amazing children and awesome staff at Dove Missions.

When we arrived at the mission, the children greeted us with smiles and open arms. They always act so happy and excited to see us each day we visit. Because it was our last day with the mission, we enjoyed our time by playing outside in the tropical weather. From jumping rope, playing basketball, making jewelry, and learning to dance meringue, we made the most out of our last moments with the loving children. Gaining friendships with the children and staff is what made our trip worthwhile and memorable. Many of the children did not want to say “goodbye,”  so instead we said “see you later!”

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As a group, we decided to donate any clothing, toiletry items, and any unnecessary belongings that we brought for the trip to the Haitian community of Los Cocos. Seeing how unfortunate the people of that community were and how grateful they were for the donated clothing yesterday, encouraged our decision to do so.

For dinner we were able to visit Maimon , which is a well known fish market in Puerto Plata. It was a very unique experience. We chose the type of fresh fish we wanted and watched as they fried it over a huge fire pit in large pans. We were severed conch, shrimp, and lobster salad with french fries, fried plantain, and fried sweet potato as the sides. Multiple types of fish were served family style to the group. All the food was eaten and everyone was more than satisfied. Unanimous donations were made after dinner to the Mission totaling up to enough money for at least three water trucks for the children. Smiles, hugs, and laughter were shared while saying “see you later” to the mission staff.

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It is always hard to say “goodbye” to people that impact your life so much in such a short period of time. This experience has been something that none of us will ever forget!

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” A. A. Milne

Caitlyn H. & Taylor F. — Senior Nursing Students

Mar 05

Being Haitian in the Dominican! (Day 6)

Today we went back to the Haitian church where the children also have school during the day and did wellness checks on all of them and some adults. The wellness checks include taking height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, respirations and a basic appearance assessment. The Haitian community was extremely welcoming and the parents seemed relieved to know that their children were going to be examined. The children were eager to see what we were doing upon arrival. We set up stations in one of the classrooms and had the children rotate through each station to complete their wellness check. The children ranged from ages 1 to 17. Many of these children are malnourished and have a low BMI percentile.

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In the afternoon, we went to a Haitian Batey called Los Cocos. A Batey is considered a company where sugar workers live; it’s a small community in itself. A little background of this community is that this community was brought to the area to work in the sugar cane fields and in return, were paid very little ($3 per day) and given a place to live. The person that brought them to the area eventually just left them there, leaving them with only the houses and no pay. The houses that these people live in are made out of wood and the roofs are made of banana leaves. There is no electricity, running water, or sewage. Living in the Dominican Republic being Haitian, is very difficult because they are not accepted here. While there, we also did blood pressure checks, pulse rates, and listened to their lungs. There were a few of them who had  alarmingly high blood pressures. There was also a man who had high blood pressure, swelling in his cheeks, abdominal pain, and was complaining of fatigue. For this gentlemen, we recommended that he be checked out at the public hospital. Donations were made to the community by Dove Missions including clothes, boots, and medications such as Motrin and Tylenol. The medications were for the children and the directions of use were written in English, so we were able to explain and translate it to the pastor to make sure they were able to give the right doses. Overall, our outlook of the Haitian community is that of a “family community” with a positive outlook on life, dispite the challenges that they face on a daily basis.

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Stephanie H. & Brooke D.

Mar 04

Day of FUN! (Day 5)

The Dove Mission Center is closed on Mondays, so we decided today would be a good day to support tourism in Puerto Plata!

We had an amazing time visiting the 27 Waterfalls. This involves a 3-hour hike involving sliding down and jumping off of 27 waterfalls, and we all had a blast. The views were amazing. It was definitely a unique experience that we will all remember. We had 2 tour guides who led us through the waters, ensuring that we were safe and having a good time. One of them was particularly gifted in mimicking animal sounds which kept us all laughing, even when we were out of breath from the hike! :) Gary, one of the guides, had worked there for 15 years and said he grew up playing on the waterfalls. He definitely was confident with maneuvering around the waters – such an adrenaline junkie! We enjoyed watching him jump from rock to rock and jump from the highest points into the water. We were concerned about the weather but it turned out to be a perfect day for outdoor activities.

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After finishing up with our water adventure, we took advantage of the rest of our day by taking a ride on the cable car, which showed us magnificent views of the Dominican Republic from the La Isabela de Torres mountain. An interesting fact about this mountain is that Christopher Columbus established this settlement and it was one of the first European settlements in America! The elevation of this mountain allowed us to see a major part of the coast, from the beach to the tropical views of the forest. The different shades of the ocean were a gorgeous site from up above. When we arrived to the top, there was a replica of Christ the Redeemer, a famous statue that overlooks Puerto Plata and is a symbol of hope for all. We were told there is a tropical botanical garden up there as well that covers 7 acres of land including many varieties of tropical plants. Of course, we had to take a peek in the gift shop before heading back down!

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Our day was made complete by a relaxing evening at Big Lee’s Beach Hut. We looked out onto the water and relaxed by reflecting on the once in lifetime memories that we made today.

 

 

Christie D. & Alex L. ~Junior Nursing Students

 

 

Mar 04

Dominican Religious Experiences (Day 4)

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Walking to the Catholic church

Yesterday we all had the opportunity to experience the religious culture here in the Dominican Republic. The first church that we visited was a traditional Dominican Catholic church. The first thing that i noticed was the phenomenal architecture of the building, including the very intricate and beautiful stained glass. The small details in the church demonstrated their devotion and love for their religion. My favorite part of the architecture was this one stained glass window in the shape of a cross, in which it depicted Jesus hanging on the cross.

The next worship service we took part in was a Haitian Christian church service. We were able to participate in communion with the church congregation, and they really allowed us to be involved with the worship service. Although the decorations were very minimal, especially compared to the Dominican Catholic church, the reverence was just as sincere among those in attendance. What really touched me was the very welcoming manners of the people. They thanked us for coming, welcomed us and said farewell to us with open arms and hugs, and they made me feel as though I were among family.

Mrs. Ruwe spoke thanking the congregation of the Haitian church for their great hospitality.

Seeing just how welcoming the people are here, makes me really evaluate our culture in the United States – and what we could do in our country to make foreign visitors feel welcomed and “at home” while they are away from home. I will never forget the experiences that have made this trip so special, and I hope to take the loving and accepting attitude of these people back home to the United States.

Amy B., Senior Nursing Student

Mar 03

Bournigal Medical Center (Day 2)

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Today we had the privilege to visit the private medical clinic in Puerto Plata. This medical center had the same things you would see in a hospital in the U.S.: Emergency Room, Laboratory, Intensive Care Unit, and even a Neonatal Unit. Also, this clinic is considered private and one must pay out of pocket or use insurance to go here, whereas at the public hospital  that is not the case. The public hospital takes people with insurance and without insurance and we were told that the public hospital was not as nice as the private clinic. At the clinic, I was very impressed with how clean it appeared and how nice the staff was. We met a Doctor there and he spoke some English so it made it easier to communicate with him. We then took an entire tour of the clinic. The clinic itself is not powered by air conditioner, but each room has its own fan to keep that room cool. There are windows in the clinic and they were all open to let in fresh air. Compared to the United States, I was somewhat concerned with the sterility of the environment due to the open windows and every kind of street fume flowing in where patients are waiting. Overall, the clinic was very nice and very clean with a highly professional staff.  I would definitely go there if I needed to and would feel completely safe and in good hands.

 

-Kayla L.

Mar 02

Barrios (neighborhood) (Day 2)

Dominican Republic March 2014 082The Haitian barrios (neighborhoods) were very moving. We were all able to see how the Haitian Dominicans lived and how the earthquake affected their lives. Even though the Haitians had very little, everyone was so loving, accepting of us being there, and willing to help others. What touched me the most was when I saw a building that was severely affected by the flood, only the front of the building remained. After walking through the barrios, we were able to visit a local home and see how the family lived everyday. The house was very small, with little lighting. Chickens, pigs, and goats were kept outside their home to raise and later sell. The newly adopted practice of recycling is of great significance in the Haitian barrios, multiple bags full of plastic bottles covered the yard of one home. Compared to Grand Guave, Haiti, where I traveled last spring break, the barrios were very similar. Trash is all over the streets and in the water; Feces and urine travel down the stream in the street. However, everyone was still very kind and welcoming.

Zoe- Sophomore Nursing Student

Mar 02

Dia de jugar (Day of Play) (Day 3)

Hola amigos! What a fun and exciting day we have had in the Dominican Republic! All of the local children had the day off from school and were at the Dove Mission Children’s Center, nearly 100 children were present. We interacted with the children all morning and played games with them until it was time for lunch. Lunch and dinner at Todo Pollo (Everything Chicken – local restaurant) was fabulous. The highlight of my day was when the water truck came to hose all of the children to cool them down. These children don’t have clean water to go jump in or any pools nearby. This was such an eye opening experience for me. I have never seen children so happy to see a water truck pull up. Liz, the director of Dove Missions, explained to us that it costs $12 American dollars for the truck to hose the children off which lasts about 25-30 minutes. In the United States, we take so many things for granted, including fresh water to cool off in. Another thing we take for granted are shoes. Some of these young children were running around all day with no shoes on. I have been incredibly blessed to be on this adventure with so many compassionate hearts. I am thrilled with the work that we have done with the children thus far and we still have plenty more days to spend with them. Hasta luego!DSCF2137

 

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong, because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – The Healing Room

 

Minter Newman, Senior Nursing Student

Mar 02

Our Arrival to Puerto Plata (Day 1)

After a long but enjoyable flight (a first time on a plane for a few) we were greeted by drums and song in the terminal. We made our way through customs, our passports stamped, we stepped into the heat and overwhelming sense of life and bright color that we had read about in our preparation. As we met our guides, packed into the vans, and began the trek to the hotel, looking out the window was something to behold. The view of rushed and disorganized traffic, a mixture of old cars, new ones, and countless motorcycles, organized chaos is the only description that comes to mind. It was immediately apparent that this island paradise has poverty unlike anything I had seen before. Aside the palm trees lay colorful concrete ruins that house businesses and the people of Puerto Plata. When we arrived to the hotel, we were greeted with friendly open arms by the owners, Jose and his wife, Vashti.

 

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Pictured: Puerto Plata  Airport.

I want to share one of the first things Jose added in his greeting  that really set the stage for the conditions of the island. He spoke about how mindful one must to conserve energy whenever possible. The practice is not only save money and be eco-friendly as we do in the United States, but because electricity here is a precious thing that is not guaranteed at any time. We haven’t been in the country for more than hour and I already have a new appreciation for the way my life is at home.

-Joe P. Barton College Senior Nursing Student

Feb 28

Spring Break in the Dominican Republic

Our Dominican Republic adventure begins today!  Thirteen students and I arrived in Puerto Plata today for a School of Nursing sponsored travel course.  For the next eight days, we will work with Dove Missions focusing on the nutrition and health care needs of at-risk children in Puerto Plata.  We left behind the severe cold sweeping the United States to arrive in the almost sweltering, tropical temperatures of Puerto Plata.  We were welcomed by the Dove Missions staff and whisked away to a quaint, charming hotel  that invites one to enjoy the pleasures of island life.  Tomorrow, we venture out for our first day at Dove Missions all set to fall in love with the children of Puerta Plata as we assess their nutritional status and examine heath care needs and challenges.

Carol R., Professor

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