Yep, it is… and no, it wasn’t! We drove an hour through the valley and into the mountains dividing the Dominican Republic from Haiti. The area was Elias Pina (specifically Los Corocitos) and let me tell you…it was sweltering hot there today.
When we first arrived in the area, we took a quick tour of the public market and a very small school that is supported by Solid Rock International. Because of limited space and funds, the younger children use the classrooms in the morning, and then the older children use the same classrooms in the afternoon. We were treated to a rousing song in the 3rd grade classroom, with lots of hugs and high fives from the kids.
We set up in a church building and set about seeing close to 100 patients before noon. This is one of the poorest areas in the region of San Juan, and everyone has a lot of needs. We saw many pregnant young women, lots of skin fungus, high blood pressure and worms.
At lunch time, we walked up the road (and I mean UP… it was hard work going up the hill) to find a beautiful view for my traditional On Top of the World photo. I think the location was muy bonita (very beautiful).
After a packed lunch of peanut butter and jelly and a tree-ripened banana, I joined a group of Dominicans and Americans going out in the community to make some visits to home-bound patients. I have to give the families credit, they were doing all they could to take care of their elderly relatives, to keep them clean and fed, and all with absolutely zero resources. There’s no home health, hospice, visiting nurses, or medical equipment sales here. It’s a very difficult life.
On the walk to the first home, the sights were just amazing. We saw a woman with two animal heads on her front porch wall. She was scooping the meat out from between the bones while flies were buzzing and landing all over the place.
A group of boys and girls followed us all over the village, and one little girl named Nanciela basically adopted me as her own. She picked red hibiscus flowers and put them behind my ears, and she insisted on carrying my notebook for me. She and her little friends sang songs for us and followed us like little shadows.
The conditions that these people live in are so primitive. They have metal shacks or crude houses made of sticks, yet they are so kind and thankful for all the help you can give them.
It’s hard to tell by looking, but the road through this village was at a very steep incline. Here’s a pic showing some typical modes of transportation.
So, at the end of the day, we wrapped up our very successful week of barrio clinics for 2016. Many of the people who have been here before are already hoping and planning to come back again next year. Several of the ONU students have been bitten by the Mission Bug, and are also making plans to return in May 2017.
I’ll try to do one more blog post to finalize this year’s trip. Tomorrow, we travel to Santo Domingo and Saturday, we’ll board our planes for our return trip to the States.