Back to the DR
By: Matt MacGregor
In the far northwest of the Dominican Republic, just miles from the Haitian border and a universe away from the five star resorts and tourism that powers much of the Dominican Republic’s economy, a small, innovative agricultural cooperative is working to improve the quality of life of low-income Dominicans and Haitian migrants. For years, “Banelino” (http://www.banelino.com/es/) has utilized its hybrid economic development and social welfare model to meet the needs of thousands of the Dominican Republic’s most undeserved families. And starting in May of 2012, Timmy will be supporting their efforts to expand access to healthcare and improve health outcomes in the agricultural communities in Monte Criste.
Starting in May of 2012, Timmy will send five annual medical teams to support the local health outreach of Banelino, an innovative, forward thinking fair-trade banana cooperative that funds and oversees preventative health and primary care medical programming for 16 underserved Dominican Republic communities in Montecristi. Timmy’s medical teams, along with our incredible network of student volunteers and partners throughout the US, will work to expand the capacity of Banelino’s outreach, expanding the size and scope of Banelino’s primary healthcare service provision and investing in essential public health programs designed to improve overall health outcomes in Monte Criste’s agricultural communities. These traditional communities – called “bateys” in the Dominican Republic — are some of the most traditionally impoverished areas in country. In Monte Criste’s bateys, both low-income Dominicans and Haitian migrants – many of whom have crossed the border in search of employment — make a living working in the banana fields. For almost two decades, Banelino has garnered an incredible reputation for socially responsible development that supports vulnerable populations, and Timmy is excited to support their efforts.
The Timmy Global Health / Banelino partnership will mark Timmy’s return to the Dominican Republic, an incredible, beautiful, vibrant country with a mesmerizing culture, unparalleled natural beauty, and significant health care and development challenges. And it will mark Timmy’s return to a focus on the plight of the thousands of Haitian migrant workers who have sought a better life by crossing the Dominican Republic border.
Over the course of the next few months, Timmy will be putting in place the final pieces of our DR programming. With IUPUI, Washington University, and Colorado State already scheduled to support Banelino’s work and travel to the DR this spring and summer, our programming will be launching with many of the necessary pieces already in place. As we move forward, we will work with Banelino to set up a comprehensive referral system for patients, as well as define our near and long term public health goals for Monte Criste’s “bateys.” The program will be supported by a fantastic team of on the ground partners, including Alyson Davidson, who is working full-time from the Dominican Republic and is a current United States Peace Corps health volunteer,and Dr. Miguel Garcia Tatis (pictured above), the head of Banelino’s health program in Monte Criste, and a Dominican physician with years of experience working to expand access to healthcare for vulnerable populations. As we continue to develop the programming, we’ll be sure to keep you – the people who make it all possible – updated.