March 2011 Projects and Activities

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Sunday Worship and Praise:

When we arrived Sunday, the community welcomed us with a worship service and we all praised God together with the community.  Since this was our first year in Placer Bonito, this was a perfect time to start building relationships with the community.  Also, this was a great opportunity to experience worship in a different culture and we were blessed by this time with the community.  The community is just starting to build a strong spiritual foundation and our request is for your prayers for God’s direction in building this foundation.

Home Visits and Sponsored Children:

Building relationships and sharing the love of Jesus Christ was an important part of the trip.  The team visited over 40 homes to meet the families and provide “Home Care” kits.

Also, many members of the team have sponsored children in the community through Food for the Hungry’s Child Sponsorship Program and we were given the opportunity to meet with about 30 of their sponsored children during the Home Visits.  This is a real blessing for the team members to spend some time with the children in the community.

Bible Study for Teens and Children:

Four members of the team met with teenagers and children three times during the week for a Bible study.  The response was amazing!   They had about 90 children each day attending VBS!  This provided a fantastic evangelistic outreach opportunity to witness to so many of the youth in the community.  God is good!

Events with the Youth:

There were many opportunities to interact with the children and youth of the community.  We organized volleyball, soccer and baseball activities and games, which allowed us opportunities to build relationships with the youth.  One evening during the week, a children’s video were shown to the youth of the community.

Medical, Dental and Veterinary Clinics:

Each day during the week we held vision, dental and veterinary clinics.

The vision clinic saw about 250 patients with about 150 pairs of glasses provided to the patients.  Other treatments for eye conditions were 10 eye infections (provided antibiotic eye drops), 25 patients with allergies (provided allergy eye drops), 50 patients with advanced cataracts (needed surgery), two patients with diabetic retinopathy, one patient with end-stage glaucoma (provided eye drops). Pterygiums (caused by sun exposure) were found in about 50 patients and can be avoided by wearing sunglasses.  Next year we should provide inexpensive sunglasses for everyone in the community to alleviate this condition.

The dental clinic saw around 20-25 patients per day Monday through Thursday and on Friday they performed close to 100 fluoride treatments.   For the dental clinic we have been able to use the services of a Dominican Republic dentist, Dr. Alex De La Rosa.   This is the third year he has helped us and he has agreed to continue to be part of the team during future visits.  The major concern for the dental health of the community is lack of understanding of good dental hygiene practices.  This will be a focus on future visits as we teach the community about preventative care.

The veterinary clinic saw numerous animals during the week.   Treatments were provided for de-worming, saddle sores and antibiotics for approximately 250 animals, including horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.

Construction Projects:

The major concern for the community is lack of health and hygiene training and sanitation facilities.  Our first step toward alleviating this situation is the construction of latrines.  We funded 20 latrines and completed the construction of 18.  FH-DR will finish the construction of the remaining two.  Community members worked along side the team during the construction activities throughout the week.  The community needs about 100 latrines and the funding for these latrines will be included in the project budgets.  Future trips will also provide health and hygiene training.

Placer Bonito Community Development Association:

The focus of this trip was largely a “vision trip” to understand the assets and needs of the community.  To that end, we met several times during the week with community development leaders, coffee growers, construction engineers and FH leaders from the area.

On two occasions we met with the Community Development Association to discuss the Leaders’ vision and priorities for the community.  The following is a summary of those discussions and the resulting priorities.

  1. The highest priority for the community is the lack of health and hygiene training and sanitation facilities.  The community needs about 100 latrines.
  2. Spiritual development and leadership in the community.  Training for church leaders and evangelistic community outreach.
  3. Vocational training for men and women.
  4. Many homes in the community are in bad shape and need to be replaced.
  5. Education is a very high priority.  The local school (1st thru 5th grade) needs to be expanded through 8th grade, a new kitchen, a security fence built around the school and a basketball and volleyball sports area.
  6. Medical training for personal hygiene and first aid, along with regular medical clinics.

Placer Bonito Coffee Farmers CO-OP:

We met with the Coffee Farmers Association twice during the week.  Coffee definitely has the potential for being the best economic enterprise for the community.  The following is a summary of those discussions and the resulting priorities.

  1. The two major challenges to coffee production are low crop yield (due to a poor tree variety and soil conditions) and an organization and facility to market the coffee bean (higher price for product).
  2. Other commodities such as Guandules, corn and red beans could be a cash crop for the community.
  3. The first priority is to increase coffee production.  This effort should include an evaluation of the coffee horticulture practices in the Placer Bonito area, which would include evaluating soil conditions, coffee tree health and providing training to the local farmers on proper horticulture practices.
  4. Replacement of the existing coffee tree variety with a hybrid variety.
  5. The association has asked for help from an agronomist from the DR Government to help establish practices that will improve crop yields.