Dominican Republic Reproductive Health Program

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In January of 2013, Freeport Rotary Club and three other contributing clubs were awarded a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant to provide basic health care and reproductive health education to Haitians working in the sugar cane fields near La Romana, Dominican Republic.

The Need

Sugar cane plantations in general vicinity of La Romana, Dominican Republic.  Haitian field workers with only seasonal cane-cutting employment, but no reason to return to even worse conditions in Haiti.  Think 150 "villages" (called bateys).  Now translate "village" into remote "cluster of shacks" housing some 100-300 people with zero health care.

The Impetus

Freeport Rotary Club (initially just a couple of people) went looking for a "project".  They found a local person already doing some work in the Dominican Republic with a church group.  Hitched a ride.  Made tentative connections. Explored "what if?"  Found tentative comfort zone.  Found Rotary partner.  Found health-care partner.

The Grant Numbers

Freeport spoke with friends in other Rotary clubs, with result that Sanford-Springvale, Portland, and Bethel also contributed.  Matching monies from district and home office added another $17,300, creating a total grant package of $31,900 to "provide health care services".

The Exciting Reality

TEN of the villages will be able to send a villager (usually a senior woman) for training at Good Samaritan Hospital on basic services.  The non-profit associated with the hospital sends professionals to the field to check up on local providers.  Refresher courses over THREE YEARS!  Think broken bones, basic hygiene, antiseptics, midwifery, burns, etc., and equally important, a cell phone directly connected for support and ambulance service.  Also training for another group to focus on pregnancy counseling and the issue of kids having kids.  Truly life changing.

Bonus Points

Seven local Rotarians visit the project.  Freeport Interact Club visits the project.  Freeport members make new friends, including a church group from West Virginia.  Freeport members reinforce Rotary connections – this is same area where Roger and Liz Fagan et. al. from Portland work, and well as, among others, Bob Chagrasulis, formerly of Bridgton, now Calais.

The Bottom Line

$31,900.  Ten Villages.  Probably close to 3,000 people impacted. Life changing experiences for both them and us.