and many other health related words in spanish. Throughout the year groups come down to the Dominican Republic to offer medical and dental services to the poorer communities. In Monte Cristi, Timmy Global Health has partnered with a fair-trade banana cooperative, Banelino, to assist 16 underserved bateys. Bateys are generally the poorest communities in the DR that grew up around the sugar can and banana production. For those communities, medical providers and student groups come on medical brigades about every 2.7 months. And there is a Dominican doctor Dr. Garcia who visits in the afternoons with a nurse and Alyson, a Peace Corps Volunteer, during the time in between brigades.
Often when a brigade comes down, the medical providers and students need some assistance translating. So we volunteers get the opportunity to provide that service and see another part of the country. When a few months ago the need for translators was posted, it looked like a good time to take a week out of my community without interrupting the flow of any class and also a chance to Monte Cristi which is in the north about a 30 minute moto ride from the Dominican-Haitian border, in other words this time I agree with the Dominicans it is muy lejos (very far), which otherwise I might not get around to visiting. [I say this time I agree because Dominicans relate distance in a different way than I and usually I think its not that far.] Happily Anna and I were accepted. and we liked Monte Cristi so much we are going to try to make it back.
So how did it work, in total we visited 5 communities. We would have breakfast, load up the supplies on the truck and then get on the bus to go to the community. Once there, decisions would be made about the layout, sometimes we were in a school and once in a discoteca, on other things in between. The separate areas would be set up and then the Dominican health promoters who had advertised the services and given out tickets would intake the patients. Next a short history would be take. Then they moved on to height, weight, blood pressure, and glucose notations. From there they would wait to see one of the providers, who with the help of a translator (or 2 on the last day when we had predominantly Haitian kreyol speakers and therefor went english to spanish then spanish to kreyol and the reverse) would determine the symptoms, the duration, and a treatment plan, testing urine or having a sonogram if necessary. After that the patients waited out the the pharmacy for their vitamins and other medication. The students would have opportunities to shadow the doctors and nurse providers when not assisting with other parts of the operation. Around noon we would take a break for lunch and then continue on until that last patient. Then we would pack it all up get back on the bus, get back to the hotel, unload the items to a secure room, and rest or wander the area until dinner.
I would recommend any medical professionals in the states to consider taking part in a foreign medical trip, it is highly appreciated by those served. And to any other volunteer, consider doing a medical mission, it was a great way to get to know some other volunteers, to increase spanish vocabulary, and a full week of work with transport and board paid for.
I almost forgot to mention that on Tuesday night there was a Dominican Dance group that came and showed some of the dominican dances and then pull everyone out of their seats to dance. My one partner decided my hair held back was not acceptable and took out my pony tail holder and shook out my hair with his hands, just something I would be less likely to experience in the States.