Through mobile medical clinics, building hurricane-proof houses, and improving schools, Watkinson School's Dominican Republic Service Team aims to improve the quality of life for the displaced Haitians who live in the sugar cane work camps of the Dominican Republic.
La Fuerza Azul, or as it translates to English, ‘The Blue Force’ is a group of 25 people — students, teachers, alumni and parents from Watkinson School, and medical professionals from UConn Health — from many different backgrounds who amass with a mission to offer support to displaced Haitians who live in the La Romana region of the Dominican Republic. Some Haitians are there because of the January 2010 earthquake, but most were bussed there by large companies to cut sugar cane. They live in sugar cane work camps, called bateys, and need basic life resources: shelter, clean water, food and medical care.
For the 11th time since 2010, during the week of Thanksgiving, our team ventures to La Romana to help improve the lives of families living in the bateys. While in the Dominican Republic, the group partners with El Fundación El Buen Samaritano Hospital. Through this partnership and funding from many gracious donors, we are able to build hurricane-proof houses for numerous bateys, including batey Papita and batey Fifty, build infrastructure for the local Joe Hartman primary school, provide a traveling medical clinic that sees over 800 patients, and distribute food to residents of the bateys.
The total cost for all of our work in the Dominican Republic is greater than $22,000 each year. Every penny donated goes directly into funding these projects, and you can choose which project you would like to support. Please remember that any donation helps our mission, but if you cannot make a monetary donation, please share this page with your friends and family through social media.
Building Hurricane Proof Houses for Batey Papita and Batey 50 is the main project of our service trip. Both Bateys are privately owned; therefore, the government does not provide hurricane-proof housing. Our service team has built many hurricane-proof houses for older adults and families wiht young children on both Bateys. Before teams like ours built homes for them, residents lived in homes they cobbled together from found sticks, cardboard, tar paper, corrugated tin, and weathered, discarded pieces of plywood.
Also, our mobile medical clinics allow families to be seen by a medical doctor and patients receive treatment for ailments from basic colds to high blood pressure and diabetes. Each patient that is seen is given a three-month supply of vitamins and medications. In addition, they receive a pair of shoes and a food kit. Each year the team encounters individuals with severe injuries who cannot get to the hospital because many bateys are in rural areas away from the city. With our mobile med clinic, we can bring them to the hospital and pay for their medical care.