January 2013 Newsletter

           Greetings to the friends and sponsors of Project Hearts!  The first month of this New Year we had a very exciting opportunity to partner with several organizations interested in the medical assessment and treatment of families in our municipality of Baitoa. 
          A group of eleven Nurse Practioners from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals arrived in our community on January 2nd, 2013.  They were accompanied by their professor, a videographer and a doctor from Good Samaritan Hospital in Santo Domingo.  Dr. Mark McDonald, Director of Christian Medical Mission, led and hosted the group in San Jose Adentro for one week.  Ruben Ottenwalder, Director of Project Hearts, assisted Mark in facilitation of poly-clinic contacts, community contacts and provision of drivers and interpreters.
          On January 3rd a Health Fair was held attended by approximately 250 people.  The purpose of the fair was to acquaint the community with the services to be provided by the team.  Educational sessions were held in the areas of personal hygiene, CPR, blood pressure checks, first aid, family planning, HIV and the prevention and treatment of common illnesses.     

         The team traveled throughout four different communities (house to house) documenting family health needs and providing assessment, referral and treatment as needed.  Each day, some team members volunteered in the poly-clinics seeing patients and learning about the local resources and protocols. 
          A total of 350 individuals were surveyed from 78 different households.  The survey results give us a more accurate picture of critical needs of our community.  Although poverty was pervasive in all households it was often not stated in those words but rather as a given compared to others in the community.  One woman however was very frank in her answer to our question about what the greatest need was for her family.  She simply stated, “Look around”.  Some of our findings include:
72% Unemployment
38% Illiteracy
67% No access to filtered/clean drinking water
25% Reported diseases or illnesses (High blood pressure, respiratory illnesses and diabetes were the most prevalent)
We hope to broaden this survey and service throughout the year to improve the lives of these families.
         In the US, tax-deductible donations may be made to us (just mention Project Hearts) through with Google Check-out or by sending checks made out to GRACE Cares, 773 Guilford St, Brattleboro, VT 05301.  Checks may also be sent directly to KUMC at P.O. Box 189, Kemblesville, PA  19347.
We need volunteers here in the Dominican Republic or from the comfort of your own living room. Please let me know if you are interested in lending a helping hand.
Gratefully Yours,
Bienvenido Ottenwalder, Executive Director and Founder