Now that it has been two weeks since returning from the Dominican Republic, and I think that I have largely made it through the process of re-entering my normal day-to-day life.  What I consider “normal” here is so different from how the residents of Esfuerzo live that it is hard to explain and hard to conceive how the process impacts a person unless one has been through it before.

During the trip, the team grew close and accomplished a great deal.  Nearly 350 patients received care, and we launched a new initiative to provide patients with a personal health record (“pasaporte de salud”–health passport) that we hope will enhance chronic disease management and facilitate follow up care while empowering patients to be active in their own care decisions.  The new government of Santo Domingo Norte has taken an interest in the project (for better or for worse–time will tell), and we hope this interest will translate into more consistent government services provided to the community.  The new team members formed necessary connections with the community’s residents and leaders (official and unofficial) that will enhance our work over the next few years.

I suspect each member of the team has their own reactions to the return: the happiness of returning to families and friends, the pang of loss that results when 18 people who spent every waking moment together for a week of hard work are suddenly separated, the unease as the amount and variety of everything we have is contrasted with the facts of life facing each resident in Paraiso, and the anticipation of the next time we will meet as individuals and as a team to reflect on what has been accomplished and the very large amount of work still to be done.

A few links to other people’s thoughts:

David Aday’s letter to the team, which sums up how much respect we all have for the team members, and demonstrates the group’s closeness, friendship, and dedication.

Jess Lucia has been actively posting her thoughts about the trip: her first impressions upon return, an attempt to answer the most common question, “What was it like?“, and a description of the communities of Paraiso.

Finally, a link to Jess’s photographs of the trip.  She has a keen eye for catching emotion and context, and her work gives an in-depth sense of what it is like to be working in the communities of Paraiso and Esfuerzo.

Thanks to all the team members and to all those who supported the work.  I look forward to our continued work together.