Our current project is based in the community of Paraiso.  This barrio is located only about 45 minutes away from the tourist center of Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial, the old center of the colonial city.  Despite the proximity in terms of distance to a well-off part of the capital, the conditions in Paraiso deteriorate rapidly from cinder block homes with somewhat reliable electricity and water service to homes made of scrap wood and tin without any electrical power or running water.  The homes in the most impoverished sections of Paraiso, the barrio of Esfuerzo, are small, poorly ventilated, and located in an area prone to terrible flooding.

The residents of Paraiso are relatively close to the public health clinics, but the distance is prohibitive to the very young, the very old or the chronically ill and the roughly $2.25 taxi ride is too expensive for many.  Many of the community’s residents do seek access to local physicians but are either unable to afford any of the prescribed medications or are unable to continue on the medicines on a consistent basis.  This leads to a community with a high rate of untreated or inadequately treated chronic medical problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma.

This community exists in a setting where death from infections (including diarrheal diseases and pneumonia) are the primary causes of death for the very young, while cardiovascular disease claims the life of many of the older residents.  Add to these illnesses the high level of infection with intestinal worms or other intestinal parasites, and it is clear that a lack of access to consistent medical care adds a terrible burden to the community’s residents’ lives.

We are working to affect this situation, both by providing medical service during our medical service trips, but also by trying to develop partnerships with like-minded organizations in order to maximize the care that we can provide the community.  At the same time, we seek to provide this care in collaboration with the community itself.  A key motivation for us has been to ensure the community’s input in this project, and we hope to continue this integrated relationship with the community as we move forward beyond our episodic medical trips and seek to address root causes of poor health such as the chronic flooding problem, the endemic parasitic infections, the lack of potable water, and the numerous other obstacles to good health.

As a small organization, all our attention is currently focused upon this community.  As we become more established, and as we increase our capacity, we hope to be able to participate in similar efforts in other parts of the Dominican Republic.