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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A visit to the country (third in a series)

Read part 2 ...

Read part 1 ...

Where to begin ... We have not had electricity for most of the week, which makes posting a blog on the Internet very difficult! This blog entry is from Sunday:

Lots of things have been happening here la Republica Dominicana … from meeting our host families to going on a long walk in the countryside with a community health nurse. Above all else, we’re in good form and learning new things all the time!

We spent last night getting better acquainted with our host families. The generosity here is enormous. Each pair of students ate a delicious dinner last night and learned more about their families. Living with host families allows students to truly be immersed in the Dominican culture and also to practice their Spanish. Some of the students even got to go to a fund-raiser for the local high school with their host brother!

This morning we got a tour of the maternity ward of the local public hospital where our mentor, Dr. Foster, has been collaborating with Dominican nurses to research how to improve maternal and newborn death rates. We were struck by the simplicity of the hospital but also the knowledge of the nurses, who actually practice more like midwives.

They attend all normally progressing births and usually only call the physician for complications. They do the best they can with what they have within the public system and we were so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them.

Later we took a long and bumpy ride down a dirt road into the countryside. The trip was to learn about how people live outside of the city as well as what health resources are available to them.

We went to visit the house of a woman named Aracelis who used to work as a nurse in the maternity ward at the public hospital but now works as a public health nurse in “the campo,” or countryside. Every day she travels by foot into the mountains to make house calls to her patients who may live several hours away. She took us on a walking tour of the area and we got to enjoy its beauty as well as appreciate the difficulty getting around and the lack of resources available for her to utilize. She is a true model of what it means to be a community nurse and to live and work among the people.

Tomorrow in the morning we will be accompanying nursing students from the local university on their rounds to visit patients in the community. We will get to see the local people in their homes and how they deal with sickness as well as how they work to navigate the health care system

In the afternoon we will be visiting the home of the Mirabal sisters, who are important martyrs in the struggle against the brutal dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic for decades.

It will be a very special celebration because it is International Women's Day, and they will also be recognizing the role of the sisters in the fight for justice for the country. We will write more tomorrow about the history of the Dominican Republic, our time in the community, and our visit to the museum.

Hasta la proxima,

-- Hunter Keys 11N and Abby Weil 11N, students, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

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