September 6, 2013
Author: Lillian Holloway, UIC Family Med Resident
Our day began in the bustling streets of Santo Domingo and ended on the border of the sugar cane fields in Guaymate. That evening we gathered at the office of the local NGO, 180 Degrees, for the first CAB meeting of the trip. By day the office serves as housing for the NGO’s director (Guaymate resident and activist, Lilo). By night the office is a hub of local community activities and education programs. On one wall hangs a remarkable mural of the sugar cane fields and sugar cane workers (caneros) with machetes. We were informed that the mural was used during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Guaymate. I was struck once again with the importance of sugar cane not only in the economy, politics and health of Guaymate, but also its role in the local culture. Everything here revolves around sugar cane.
This CAB meeting was energized by the presence of the more than 10 youths that conducted the focus groups in the Guaymate community and surrounding bateyes. They energetically relived the trials and triumphs in conducting the focus groups. During the first group, the youths had to convince a group of bateye residents of the principles of GCHC. The residents were skeptical of foreigners that “sell dreams” and then never return. The youth discussed the collaborative nature and the collective nature of the program. Much like interns that had survived their first night on call, they spoke proudly of their newly discovered skills in improvisation, communication, and problem solving. As always, we are excited by the contagious spirit of the youth involved in this project.