Your donations in action!

New rainwater collection system.

Girls using the new hand-washing station.
Water flows from faucet in Los Plomos.

Brigada Verde
Brigada Verde members making a presentation on deforestation at a 2018 regional workshop in Dajabon.

Big changes in health result from Community Challenge Fund project

When DR-PCV Eva Gougian conducted a community needs survey for Los Derramaderos, a rural community located in the arid region of the extreme northwest, improved health conditions for the children quickly rose to the top of the list. Students were often sick and either unable to attend school, or attended but were unable to focus on instruction due to their sickness. The PTA (the Padres and Amigos of the Escuela) identified several major health needs in the K-8 school including health education, hygiene, sanitation, potable water and prevention of infectious diseases.

To meet the health-related infrastructure needs of the school serving 250 students, the PTA focused on several projects including the reconstruction of abandoned latrines, construction of a hand-washing station, installation of a water filtration system, reconstruction of the roof water collection and storage system and installation of waste disposal receptacles. In addition, the school administration committed to giving ten lectures on health.

The PTA sought the assistance of the Community Challenge Fund and was approved for a grant of $1,646 to purchase materials. The community provided all the labor, purchased the water filter, obtained the sand from a nearby riverbed and completed the project over a period of six months. Eva has now observed that almost all students are using the hand-washing station after using the latrines and the teachers report that fewer students are missing class due to sickness.

Program Support Fund supports Brigada Verde

Friends of the Dominican Republic first began supporting Brigada Verde, the Peace Corps’ youth environmental conscious program in 2013 when it provided $1,500 towards its national conference in Jarabacoa in 2013. In 2018 it funded Brigada Verde’s first three regional workshops held in Dajabon, Elias Pina and El Seibo at a cost of $1,460.

The 63 attendees at the regional workshops were young people who are members of local Brigada Verde youth groups led by Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts in their mostly rural communities. The PCVs and local leaders collaborated with 18 students from the National Environmental School to plan and organize the one-day workshops. The students from the environmental school, who are working towards associate degrees in environmental conservation, designed the curriculum and conducted the workshop sessions. The focus of each workshop depended on the interests of local groups. For the two near the Haitian border the focus was deforestation and reforestation and for the workshop near El Siebo the focus was family gardens and composting. A major part of the PSF grant was for transportation of the students to and from the workshops. The residential school is located in Jarabacoa. PSF also supplied students and faculty at the school with more than 60 copies of the 140-page Brigada Verde teaching manual used by PCVs to help organize local Brigada Verde groups.

“I was very impressed with the students from the environmental school,” said Chloe Kouglas, one of the two PCV coordinators for the Brigada Verde program. FDR and the Peace Corps Volunteers are hoping to continue building a strong relationship with faculty and staff at the state-run Environmental School as a way to sustain Brigada Verde in the future. Martha Fernandez, director of the school, said this will also benefit the school and its students because an important part of the school’s mission is to give its students an opportunity to practice their teaching and leadership skills as a way of promoting awareness of the need to protect the natural environment.