Holy cacao!

Today was our final day of home visits, and we more or less had our routine down by now. We dropped off Kathleen, Sara and Hunter (who joined us for the first time today and will be here for a few more weeks completing his community health rotation) in the first community along with a couple of Dominican coworkers, and they completed 2 home visits/community surveys. Since they were dropped off first and the rest of us traveled so much farther, they also had extra time to get to know the local roadside cantina. Translation: they patiently waited for our bus to return for 2 hours after they finished their work.  Every day is a lesson in flexibility!

The rest of the group developed a system in which half of us would complete the home visit while the other half performed community surveys. This way, everyone had the chance to visit 1-2 families and to see different communities. We sat in rocking chairs under trees and spoke to community founders, we surveyed the local parks and we chatted with anyone and everyone we could find about resources, problems and benefits in their communities. The nurse in charge of all childhood vaccines for the municipality also joined us, and with her help we had a much easier time tracking down families.

Since we did have more down time today on the bus, we were able to begin analyzing our data for our presentation tomorrow. We also conducted and recorded interviews with local nurses, community leaders and students. We hope to use these interviews in multiple future presentations. Each interviewee brought a different perspective to the project and, as always, it was very inspiring to hear the empowerment and excitement in their voices.

After lunch and a brief meeting at the hospital we spent the rest of the afternoon at the cacao farm owned by Catharine, Darya and Rachel’s host family. Manuel (our host father) proudly showed us how cacao grows and how it is dried. We also tasted dried and fresh cacao. Most of us prefer chocolate in its processed form, but it was an experience! The farm was beautiful and more than one of us wanted to stay longer. After sharing snacks in the shade at the farm we headed home to San Francisco de Macoris. This afternoon was only a sliver of the generosity and welcome we have received here. We cannot believe the week is ending so quickly, but hopefully we will make the most of our final day here!

Gracias, Catharine, Kathleen and the DR team

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