We’ve been home for a few months now, and apart from the re-entry to American society (from which I’ll spare you the details), we have each had busy summers.
Nonetheless, wanderlust has struck!
Eager to get back on the medical volunteerism track (and recognizing the importance of sustainability in global health) the Goldsteins are off on their next adventure!
Just before school starts, we decided on one last trip to the Dominican Republic. Because of other commitments, we couldn’t all travel together, so Dad, Mimi, Karen O’Keefe (family practice) and her daughter Tierney joined a group of pre-med students from Vanderbilt on a Timmy Global Health brigade to Las Canas, Domincan Republic. Mom, McKenna (Tierney’s older sister), and I are on another Timmy brigade with University of Michigan pre-med students to Mao, Dominican Republic.
Both cities are located in northern Dominican Republic, near the Haitian border. Our patients are mostly Haitians, who have migrated to live in bateys -traditionally rural, barrack style communities- and work in agriculture. In the bateys there is limited to no access to healthcare, clean drinking water, education, or transportation.
Despite Las Canas being only a few miles from the nearby tourist destination, Puerto Plata (one of the world’s greatest wind-surfing spots), it feels like a world away given the desperate condition of the residents of the bateys.
In the Dominican Republic, Timmy Global Health partners with local programs to improve patients’ access to public services throughout the whole year, in addition to the four annual medical brigades.
In Las Canas, Timmy rents its residence huts from 7 Elements (7E) which is a high school/college teaching program and NGO based on sustainability. They emphasize “the seven elements of human security to provide holistic development opportunities and increase the quality of life. This approach focuses on improving access to environmental, economic, food, health, individual, community, and political security to systematically fight regional disparities.”
Near Mao, Timmy Global partners with Banelino, a small farmer cooperative that exports fair-trade bananas. We had a chance to visit the banana plantation and the production site. Here, we learned about the new health education, access to medicine, and housing infrastructure programs that have been implemented since the switch to Fair Trade.
It was a real pleasure to work with the guys and gals from Vandy and UMich- they were helpful, energetic, smart and all around really great kids.
We are all so glad to be back working with Timmy Global Health! Mimi and I are working on organizing a chapter of Timmy as a club at school, as well. More on this soon!