So time is almost done.  One thing to close out my service was the Construye Tus Suenos conference.  I did not receive a completed plan, but my girl got to come and be inspired by the conference.  We have talked and she will finish, and I will help her over the internet, to make sure she takes the opportunity next year.

This year it was in a different location then the last 2 years.  No more cabana zone (not that we were in a cabana), now we were on the malecon.  The hotel was very comfortable, except for the arctic temperature (at least that is how I view it, commenting the night before last that polar bears might be comfortable here).

The jovenes for the majority were animated, well behaved, and inspiring in the plans they had as youth.  We had previous participants who had one share their stories and offer advice.  We had charlas on professionalism, networking, presenting, and a one minute introduction.  There were off course dinamicas and color teams.  I was on verde and it went well, we almost won, but we lost, in my opinion due partly to the fact that the leaders kept wanting to change the team chant right before we were supposed to train it.  Also some animosity was created with the red team over some point.

This year we had all women winners, an artist who makes 3d paintings inspired by flowers, a bakery, and a library/bookstore/cafeteria.  All the finalists did great presentations, and one even used prezi (which was super neat to watch).

On the third day we promoted microfinance through a microfinance fair (with representatives from ADEMI, ADOPEM, FDD, ECLOF International), a talk by Franciso Abate of Fundacion Dominicana de Desarrollo, and panel of bank representatives field questions.

As always the days were full, and a rest was needed after.  After I sent my joven off home, I went to the office and changed bags, because on Thursday when I left for the conference I was leaving my site for good.

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So I don’t always know what a fabrication of cleaner or soap or menthol is going to cost beforehand, because I sometimes buy the chemicals in groups.  I have fixed the problem now, but at the time of the Tuesday previous to the week of this post’s Tuesday, the fabrication of menthol, they didn’t have the money to cover the full cost.  I still have not received about half the money.  So luckily for the next Tuesday (i.e. the one this post is about) we were going back to floor cleaner and I could say you can choose how many gallons we make but each gallon is 25 pesos.

Knowing I really didn’t want to create more a deficit, I decided to use the Somos Mujeres chapter on fiao for the educational part.  I probably should explain what fiao is.  It is credit.  At the colmado, people will have a cardboard with numbers written for the price of each shopping trip and sometimes the colmado owner will have a notebook with the same information for each customer using fiao.  For fiao, there needs to be a level of trust, because its not like a credit card company that can send you to the bill collectors.  A word for that trust is confianza.  I was told the other day by the youth I was giving first option to buy my bike that I did not have confianza in him to pay.  And the honest answer was no I did not.  I talked to his brother, who is my good friend, and he tells me how he is still waiting on partial payment from him. So my feeling of wanting the money up front was justified and spot on.

So this time I told them I was collecting the money at the beginning, before we started measuring chemicals and wrote done names with quantity.  It worked much better, only disappointing thing was that they didn’t want to make all of it.  So I have to offload some chemicals before a month goes by.


This Tuesday (as in a past Tuesday I am talking about, not the most recent Tuesday or next Tuesday) the financial education part of the gathering was a clear failure.  I talked about savings and how with knowing how your money is being spent you can find the things you could live without and save that money for a stated goal or for an unexpected time of emergency.  Talked about how saying just a little each week will add up and such.  What I got back was Ashley you know we don’t have savings.

Okay moving on.  Then we made some menthol, along the lines of vapor rub.  Let me tell you this is a real crowd pleaser.  I got the chemicals at Casa Jarabocoa in Villa Consuelo in Santo Domingo.  And then Anna taught me where the container store was located on San Martin between Duarte and Maximo Gomez.

Now I had participated in making this during Community Based Training, but about 2 years ago it wasn’t anything I recalled with great clarity.  The direction are written in Dominican Spanish and I read over them, but felt that the women would help me with anything I wasn’t clear on.  So I tell them we need a baño de agua.  They ask me how much water to use, I explain I am uncertain what do they think a baño de agua means.  I tried calling Anna who had made menthol with her group multiple times, but no answer.  Never getting an answer from the Dominicans either, I just allowed them to decide how much to add.  We then carefully heat the Vaseline without letting it boil because then it could light on fire.  When it comes time to dish out the menthol I find we have much more than 50 1 ounce containers’ worth.  Luckily some people had brought their own jars, so we used that.  Probably could have filled 100 containers.  I did the filling and because of the menthol my eyes were watering like a flowering pot by the end of the batch.

Later when I am talking to Anna she says it means double boiler.  What the Dominicans more frequently call baño maria.  I tell Anna, well the menthol still seemed strong enough, so I found a way to make more product.  I did tell the group what I found out the next week and a few gave me a oh yeah type of response.  Why couldn’t they have thought of it the week before?  I don’t know.

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Formula de Mentol


– 1 Kg. de vaselina sólida

– 1 cucharón de alcanfor  (moler en trozos antes de añadir)

– ¾ cucharón de salisilato de metilo

– ½ -1 cucharón cristal de mentol (mientras mas cantidades agregues, mas fuerte será y por tanto mas caro)

*(Tu puedas echar hojas de eucalipto o estacas de canela)


En una olla delgada (cacerola) en madera, carbón o en una estufa, poner en un baño maria, la vaselina en la olla reservando unas pocas en una funda  (bolsa).  Combine la vaselina, pero hay que tener cuidado de que no hierva porque pueda crear un fuego grande.  La vaselina deberá estar completamente clara cuando mezcla.  Cuando todo este completamente mezclado, remueva del fuego.  Remueva los palitos y las hojas.  Añada el alcanfor, el salisilato de metilo y los cristales de mentol.  Mover hasta que este completamente disuelto.  Todo el proceso no toma más de 15 minutos.  Debe estar liquida para que pueda ser servida en las latas del filme.  Es bueno que pongas solo ¾ de la mezcla y después espera hasta que este fría, antes de poner la tapa

1 Kg. Sirve para unos 40 latas del filme.  Lavar bien la olla y la cuchara ya que los restos del mentol pueden producir problemas gástricos.

So Anna had bought a chemical for dishwashing soap in twice the amount needed for the formula, but all others in the right amount.  So she offered it as a gift and I took her up on it.  And boy did I earn it.  I schlepped that 2.5 kilos of  Texapon from her house to the ferry, to Los Haitises, to Turner’s site, down through Higuey and the capital to Cambita.

Sadly the chemical stores are not open on the weekend, so I had to go back to the capital during the week.  And when I visisted Agencias Internationales they lacked the one of the chemicals.  So I fell back on another formula and instead got the chemicals for liquid hand soap.

When I informed the class the week before that is what we would be doing, I received a lackluster response.  But I had around the 10+ people and this time 2 guys.  Roberto, I had allowed since he helped coordinate the space.  This time when there was another man, Antonio, I figured well they invited him, so why not.  He has ended up being helpful, because we have him pour the 5 gallons of water.

This time we talked about budgeting, being aware of where your money is going.  You take what you learn from your daily log of income and expenditures and then you can see where the money goes and how it comes.  Of course, none of my women had kept a daily log like I asked them to.  That was not surprising after 2 years of seeing how the education system of the Dominican Republic trains students.  They are excellent about copying, and will even copy things you tell them are unimportant. However, you ask them to practice English at home or fill out a 10 minute worksheet, many just do not do it.

Well in the end we made some lovely strawberry scented hand soap, which I enjoy using.

Formula Par Jabon Liquido Para Mano – 55 GL (We made 7GL)

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Materia Prima Cantidad (55 GL) Cantidad (7GL)
Texapon N-70 20 KL 2.5 KL
Comperland KD 3.5 KL .44 KL
Lanolina ANH Amarilla .25 KL .03 Kl
Glicerina 1 KL .125 KL
Fragrancia Al Gusto Al Gusto
Color Al Gusto Al Gusto


So on Friday, I had a another charla with my group of women.  This time I wanted to talk about the importance of maintaining records.  I couldn’t tell them this, considering the less frequent use of technology and the internet in the older generations, but if I was giving the charla to Americans I would say and use  It was so handy and easy to use to keep.  So I did an overview of a daily record and asked them all to do record Saturday through next Tuesday for the next class.

The best part in my opinion is the activity to highlight the importance of not operating blind.  That activity involves rolling up charla paper to make swords and blindfolding the 2 volunteers.  Well telling them they will both be blindfolded, but only actually making one wear a blindfold.  It was quite amusing to watch Hembra striking out at nothing, while her counterpart dodged most of the hits.  The activity clearly demonstrates that seeing and knowing is handy in life.

We actually started the fabrication of fabric softener first, because it has to be left to sit for 20 minutes before adding the fragrance and possible the salicat, I don’t know about the salicat because it was not part of the instructions, I added it. with the fragrance.

I did get asked today about a change in color in the liquid soap, to which I had not good response.  I said I don’t know why, these are formulas I receive from Agencias Internacionales or the Income Generation handbook that probably got them for them or a similar store.  Also since I did not take any, I did not realize it happened.  I did grab some fabric softener today because I bought more fragrance (strawberry) and really liked the smell (although am right now lamenting that I have only had strawberries once in 2 years).  And I cannot wait to make someone smell my clothing, as you would expect from the girl who had both Turner and Robin smell her hair after Turner commented on the kids’ shampoo (kids’ swim and sport so great for a girl who likes to swim).  I pointed out adult shampoo is not sold in such a an appealing fragrance as citrus to deal with such activities, and then back it up with the offer to smell my hair.  As well as the girl who had to say smell my hand to Miguel after the soap making made it smell like wonderful jasmine.

We did half strawberry and half jasmine (the soap did not use much of the jasmine fragrance).  It was easy to split the glop they call Belfasin into two parts, because at first I was only sold 2 Kilos.  I like how that error that made me wait longer at the store, worked out very nicely.  I let the women get it out of the bags today, because I had enough fun when I did a charla for the new volunteers in the spring getting it off my hands.  In the end, I think we turned out a nice product and can’t wait to test it.

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Formula de Sauvizante 10 GL

Belfasin 4 Kilo

Agua u.s.p. 9 GL

Salicat k 100 100 mL

Colorante  Al Gusto

Fragancia  Al Gusto (possible .25 Kilos)

Preparacion: Mezclar el color con el agua.  Mezclar el belfasin con el agua coloreada y agitar vigorosamente y dehar en reposo durante 20 minutes.  Luego agregar la fragancia y salicat.

Had another class with women.  This time I started out by talking to them about the importance of an operation plan.  The suggested activity to start out the class is how to make a cauldron of rice.  Rice making is a staple here in the Dominican Republic.  Rice is almost always a part of the afternoon meal.  I living with a family have only once made rice in this country, and only a small amount for my taco salad when there was no white rice available.  In the States, after living with Rachel in college who had lived on Guam for a large potion of her life and advocated the inclusion of rice in the meal, I saw the intelligence of a rice cooker.  So its not like I never have made rice, I just never have made a large amount.  To make it amusing for the women, I told them I didn’t know how after 2 years.  The point of the exercise, is to list out the many steps that are required.  To make sure they include sourcing the pot, having gas in the tank, buying the rice (although for me it magically appears, the joy of living in someone else’s house).  It’s to enforce the idea that planning is helpful and to think the process through from start to finish to take into account the supplies you need and time you need.

After they sat through the charla, we moved on to making liquid soap they could use for things such as washing clothes.  As the one running the show it was my job to figure out what to measure out for each chemical I had purchased.  I am very frustrated that Agencias Internacionales sell in Kilograms (Kilos which they mark as KL) yet most of the chemicals are liquid, so it would be easier to measure if I knew the amount of liquid required.  I was on the phone with Anna today complaining about that since I don’t have a colmado scale and there on the kitchen counter was one.



But I did my best on Tuesday without this. I even just judged by eye level how much of a 5 lb jar of salt would be 3.6 lb.  I know that is shocking behavior for my usual preciseness.  However, it looks like we made liquid soap.  I will have to wait to see how it works.  And so far the outcome of the liquid soap was better than the floor cleaner.  Instead of a green face, I got lovely jasmine scented hands.

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Formula Para Jabón Liquido

11 GL

Materia Prima Cantidad
Texapón N-70 5 Kilos
Comperland KD .4 Kilos
Sal 3.6 LB
Salicat k100 20 ml (1.5 cucharadas)
Fragrancia 20 ml (1.5 cucharadas)
Agua 9.5 GL
Color Al Gusto
Ácido Cítrico .05 Kilos
Glucopón .2 Kilos


Diluir el Texapón con el agua y la sal.  Confirmar que todo está diluido

Luego agregar los demás ingredientes

So I previously posted about Somos Mujeres.  I’m not going to run a full curriculum with my time left in country.  However I am going to use the resource of charlas that we created.

I had finished up my Construye classes and was told by one of the students (an older one who I let take the course because business planning is good at any age) that two of her friends were interested in the class.  Since I had no more books and no more plans for the Construye class (because it does fit with the conference, and time to write a plan if eligible), I said I actually have another course I can do that is aimed at women.  And then I said or I have a bunch of formulas and craft knowledge, if the women would prefer to do that.

DSC_0012-001So last week (with a trial run the week before, I call it trial because it was just Hembra and Robert, the others who said they would come had conflicts) a group of 10 women gathered together and we made floor disinfectant similar to the brands Fabuloso and Mistolin sold in country.  They think of those bands in the way I think of Mr. Clean.  The day I traveled to Dana’s site, I stopped in the capital at Agencias Internacionals (a chemical store) and picked up the chemicals that were listed in the formula in the Income Generation Handbook.  Chemical names I have no knowledge of and wonder with the cleaning abilities they create about the wisdom of using them without that knowledge.  I did try to look up one online and was no further educated.

Because they did not have purple coloring, so I got green and the fragrances in undiluted form often are hard to tell the smell, but I could tell with pine, we made green pine scented floor cleaner.  I had to make a decision at the store and even asked the saleswoman to confirm that Dominicans like the scent of pine.  I know I find the scent makes me think of clean frenshness

DSC_0011-002I have the women pay for the portion of chemicals they will use and sit through a short charla, in order to, participate in the process.  For the floor cleaner, I went with a costing and pricing charla.  I chose that because I think the most important first step of business is not to lose money.  And you need to know the cost for the unit you are selling, before you can appropriately decide on a price taking into account the competitors price and worth of your time.

DSC_0012-002The group greatly enjoyed the class and we are going to make something else today.  It was just interesting for the last batch when I was working on getting green coloring off my skin (the coloring is quite potent and apparently I had touched my face – the process was made more difficult by the fact that no mirrors were around).  They changed the order of the chemicals somehow.  This resulted in a green milk color for that batch as opposed to a semi-translucent green.

For any curious to see what I was working with that do not have the Income Generation Handbook, here it is:

Formula para Desinfectante (Mistolin)

Materia Prima


Cant. Para 55 Galones

Nonil Fenol 0.05 1 Kl.
Dehyquart LBD 0.50 1 Kl.
Perfume 1.0 1 Kl.
Color A.G. A. G.
Agua 90.05 54 Galones

Sugerencia de elaboración:

  • Medir el agua y adicionar el colorante al gusto
  • Disolver el Perfume en el Nonil Fenol
  • Adicionar el Dehyquart LBD al agua colorada
  • Mezclar el punto 2 en el 3