My annual “On Top of the World” photo!
It was already our last barrio day… the week has just flown by! Today, we drove more than an hour West to a small village in one of the poorest regions of this area. Being so close to the border, the barrios are filled with Haitian refugees who have very limited means of supporting themselves.
The 2nd and 3rd grade classes sang welcome songs for us.
I wanted to insert a video here, but it won’t upload!
Our first stop was in a very small school, which is supported by Solid Rock International… the charitable organization we are here working with. 400 children attend grades pre-k through 8, and the school is so small that the younger children attend in the morning and the older ones in the afternoon.
After another 20 minutes or so of gravel roads, we arrived at a small school still under construction where we set up in a room with a beautiful view and cross-breeze! From about 10:30 until 3:30, we saw 152 people. The most common ailments today were conjunctivitis (a local epidemic), female infections, malnutrition (sadly, very rampant here) and a combination of symptoms that farmers experience due to their long days of work in the fields, inadequate hydration and poor nutrition.
Imagine getting this many kids to kneel on the floor and color a page with crayons!
This little sweetie had a hat that was stitched together from a previously worn garment, probably a knit shirt. Very clever. Nothing is wasted here.
We make a big effort to provide love and acknowledgement to the children at each barrio visit, while at the same time keeping them entertained and out of their parent’s hair while they wait to be seen by the doctors and nurses. Our fearless children’s leader, Rachel, had a suitcase full of games and activities for each day and did a great job with all the kids.
We took a beautiful and very hot walk outside the medical area today, and were able to interact with some of the local people and see some beautiful scenery. We were just a short distance from a stunning mountain range, and about an hour from Haiti for today’s clinic.
The kids had a great day at school today. It’s the end of their school year, so some of the classes had little graduation ceremonies. Very adorable.
I was very exicted to do a “charla” (small teaching/instruction session) after lunch today, with the school teachers. This was the final day of my Hola, Hermanita Breast Self-Exam teaching project. With the help of Bienva (the regional health coordinator) and a female translator I was able to provide a 20 minute program on how to instruct others in Breast Self-Examination. The mayor of the village came in at the end of the program and thanked us for providing this life-saving education.
Our group worked very hard this week, and we have bonded as a team in a short time. This is the group that was in Elias Pina… a few people stayed in San Juan de la Maguana to do construction and surgery.
Before supper, we took one last quick walk through the barrio just behind the guesthouse. The children swarmed us, as usual and wanted to know if we could come out tomorrow night and play ball with them. No worries… there will be other mission groups here most of the coming weeks… those kiddos get lots of attention and love.
Here was a little sweety-pie that hung around with me for a bit this afternoon.
Tomorrow morning, we will strip the beds, take out the trash and load our packed bags onto the trailer for the return trip to the capital. We’ll stop for a while in The Colonial Zone, which is the original stomping grounds (in this part of the world) of Christopher Columbus and his family. Then we’ll check into the hotel for a decent shower and a restful night’s sleep before making the long journey back to Ohio.
As with previous years, I will try to do at least one more blog entry to wrap up the trip and share some final thoughts… It’s been amazing.