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November 13, 2019
 

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New experiences . . . and a success story

By Christine L. North

Today was a day of new experiences.  Our group headed out to El Cercado, a community in the mountains about an hour from San Juan de la Maguana, where there is both a school and a clinic.

Our engineering/education team held a teacher workshop with the teachers from the El Cercado school.   ONU students from a variety of disciplines (but mostly engineering) worked with these Dominican teachers, providing lessons that incorporate active learning and activities to interest students in math and science.  The activities focus on team work, creative problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as basic math and measuring skills.

The pharmacy/nursing team ran a health fair with six educational stations – for hypertension, wound care, basic CPR, nutrition, dental hygiene, and hand hygiene.  Families with children in the existing nutrition program came to the health fair and went to each of the six educational stations and then to three related activity stations.  They received vitamins, a basic first aid kit, hand sanitizer and a toothbrush and paste.  All received a snack and children received a small toy, a coloring book, and a small backpack to carry everything in.

One of the great stories of the day was seeing a child that we had first seen when we were here in November 2011.  A participant in the nutrition program, this little girl – just 15 months old when we first saw her – then weighed only 14 pounds.  When we saw her today, she looked like a normal, healthy Dominican child!

This is the kind of success story that really makes the work we do exciting and rewarding!  Addressing malnutrition issues before the age of two greatly decreases the chances of permanent stunting (short stature).  So exciting!

We had a traditional Dominican lunch for the teachers at the teacher workshop.  The lunch was Moro (rice and beans), Chen chen (a corn casserole-type of dish), Arepitas (Yuca fritters), chicken, pork, and salad.  And it was amazingly good!  However, not all Dominicans can afford to enjoy pork and chicken on a regular basis.  So, for many of the teachers, this lunch was a treat!

And of course, one of the best parts of being here is being able to enjoy the kids, as I did with this cutie in the picture nearby!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's adventures from Elias Piña, a community near the Haitian border.