Today was the day we’ve been anticipating for more than half the year! It was the follow up to my original BSN graduation project, where I did one-on-one breast self-exam teaching to 73 women. This trip, my research partner and I created a curriculum to teach representatives of 12 villages in this region how to go back to their area and do their own teaching of this important skill.
Preparation involved not only writing and having the curriculum translated, but getting funding for the materials, creating teaching tools like beaded necklaces and keychains, and assembling a kit for each village educator. Honestly, it took a village of our own people to bring this project to the Dominican people.
Village health promoters came from as far as 45 minutes away (in the DR, that’s quite a trip) to spend the afternoon in our classroom. More people wanted to attend, but we had to keep the attendance to 12 because of the expense of our materials. The women were sooooo enthusiastic and appreciative of the opportunity to learn a life-saving new skill.
Here in the Dominican Republic, the incidence of breast cancer is about the same as it is in the U.S. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is so much higher, because knowledge of early detection methods is so limited, and doctor’s office screening/mammography is very rare. For instance, a biopsy tissue specimen sent from the city of San Juan de la Maguana to the capital city of Santo Domingo would provide results to the patient in about 30 days. Can you imagine? We get results in the U.S. in 72 hours or less.
We were so proud to hear the health promoters say that this was the best training program they had been to. They wrote objectives for implementing their teaching programs in their own communities, and will provide us feedback on the numbers of people that they teach and the impact of the training.
In other news… we actually started the day with a quick trip to the local open-air market. Notice that I did NOT say “fresh” air market. The aromas were quite interesting. I have had the walking tour of this market 2 times in the past, so this year, I took the opportunity to do a little bit of shopping in the adjacent supermercado (super market). I got about 10 packets of mango juice mix, a packet of cookies, a tin of sardines and a bottle of vanilla for the equivalent of less than $5 U.S.
Here’s an interesting little factoid… the chickens around here are a source of sporting entertainment (cock fighting) as well as a food source. The roosters that live in the neighborhood behind the guesthouse have been relatively quiet this week. It seems that they might be experiencing some “job turnover”. The previous roosters have been “retired” from their fighting career, and the new roosters have not yet been called up from the minor leagues. The peace and quiet in the middle of the night has been delightful.
Tomorrow will be another big day. We’ll leave for the village of La Cana de Guazumal at 8:00 a.m. I expect we’ll see about 200 patients, by the middle of the afternoon… but what I’m most excited about is my scheduled visit (in the late afternoon) with our sponsor child, Yasiri. Last year’s visit went VERY well. She was happy to see me, and I enjoyed some play and cuddle time for almost an hour. I hope this year’s visit goes just as well. I’m sure tomorrow’s blog post will be full of news and pictures!