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October 2009
Winter Trip Stats
A Young Girl's Story
Robin's Story
Volunteer Superstars
Winter Trip
We are now accepting applications for the Winter 2010
  • Leave January 2, 2010
  • Return January 15, 2010
For more information about PRHDR visit our website: http://www.prhdr.org/

For more information about the upcoming trips or on becoming a volunteer, please
visit our volunteer page.
Join Our Mailing List!
USM Engineering
Click Here to read an article about how the USM Engineering Department has aided those in the Dominican Republic!
Come to "La Fiesta"
October 24 from 10:00-2:00
Woodbury Campus Center on USM Portland Campus
Registration cost:
(includes lunch and drink) $15.00  for adults, $10 for ages 5-18 including USM Students, Children under 5 free. Fun activities for children and adults. Please pre-register to help us with space and meal planning. Checks made out to:
PRHDR, PO Box 1742
Portland, ME 04104

Letter From the President
¡Hola! Bienvenidos to this edition of "Partners", a newsletter dedicated to keeping all of our alumni, students, volunteers and friends up to date on the latest news and information from PRHDR. I also welcome new people who are learning about us for the first time.

We are growing and stronger than ever.  We continue our mission of providing experiential learning opportunities as we deliver sustainable health care to the remote villages in the Dominican Republic all the while participating in the richness of the cross cultural experience.  Since 1995, PRHDR has provided healthcare to over 15,000 patients. Our work would not have been possible without you. Muchas gracias!

Some of you may be learning about us for the first time. With the click of a button in "Partners", you can travel to our website and view our gallery of photos from various recent trips.

Warning for alumni! You might just feel a pang in your heart as you look at the photos that will take you back to a special time in your life when friends were made while listening to a heartbeat, where your own personal growth could not be measured on a medical chart, and where looking into someone's eyes opened up your own.

Finally, there is no better way to experience what we are all about than to hear the personal stories of some of our students and volunteers. With the debut of our first newsletter, we hope to create a forum for sharing accounts of our missions as a way to stay connected to all of you.

Enjoy this issue as you read these remarkable and inspiring stories from three of our students and volunteers from the Winter 2009 trip.

Carol Doane

President of PRHDR Board of Directors

Winter Trip Statistics

Fun and Interesting Statistics

Coffee bought: 600 pounds
Number of participants: 66
Number of clinics: 20
Number of rollerbags filled with medicine: 62
Number of patients served: 2011
Number of returning volunteers: 28
Number of interpreters:14 plus Peace Corps
Number of Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: 1000
Dollars raised to buy medicine: $12,230
Numbers of friendships made: endless
A Young Girl's Story
nualaA young Dominican girl, bedridden in the hospital for a month due to diabetes could barely walk after she returned to her home, which is where Nancy Crotty first met her. "He was so anxious for us to visit his 17 year old daughter and we promised we would," Crotty says of her first meeting with the girl's father. It was only the next day that Crotty and her colleagues realized this girl was not the only fragile diabetic in the family who needed their care. The young girl's father was first in line in the morning at the clinic, as he continued to show grave concern for his daughter's condition. She had been using expired insulin and could barely walk due to a severe foot drop she developed while on bed rest during her month long stay in the hospital.

Her father, also a diabetic, refused to use his daughter's insulin and came to the clinic that morning with his blood sugar in the 500 range. Normal range for her father should have been in the 90 and 110 range. After caring for the father, Crotty and her colleagues traveled to his home where they found his daughter in seriously poor health.
"The girl seemed so depressed and hopeless, it was nice to talk to her about going dancing, and being out with friends, living a healthier life," Crotty says of the girl. The family had had no contact with the hospital since the girl's stay. Crotty's team found minimal diabetic supplies, not nearly enough to care for two diabetics. 

The family lived on a $60 a month income. When the price of one bottle of insulin in the Dominican Republic costs roughly $40 and a diabetic can use 1 to 2 bottles a month , a diabetic father had to choose between his own well being and the health of his daughter. The family had even been carrying the girl around because she could not walk.

The Partner's team made an evaluation of the girl's condition and showed her some exercises to help her foot and get her mobile. They also gave the family all the medical supplies they could for her and her father's diabetes, including monitors, strips, insulin and new sneakers. Crotty and the other volunteers did everything possible that day to help the family.
"I will be anxious to see them next year, the story could go either way with a happy or sad ending," says Crotty.

Robin's Story
Robin"Don't be too critical of yourself, keep a good sense of humor, and go with the flow. You are on 'Dominican Time'," says Robin Hetzler an interpreter who traveled down to the Dominican Republic this past winter, when asked if she has any words of wisdom for future trip-goers. Robin, who will receive her Masters in Public Health from The University of New England this summer, first received her Bachelor's degree in Spanish. She listens to music, reads books and converses when possible in Spanish to stay proficient in the language.

She first heard about Partners (PRHDR) in 2004 while taking some courses at The University of Southern Maine, although she was not able to attend a trip until the winter of 2009. "Fortunately, I was able to attend some pre-trip classes to meet some of the nursing students, faculty, and trip volunteers," says Robin about her preparation for the trip. While in the DR she enjoyed the fast-paced and exciting days interpreting in the clinics, sometimes even interpreting for multiple stations at one time. The evenings became a great time to talk to other volunteers and reflect on the day's events. This relaxation time, as well as nightly team meetings, helped keep work and rest balanced and manageable.

One of the most memorable moments for Robin from the trip was meeting a teenaged boy while on a home visit who had been paralyzed after falling out of a palm tree. This is the same boy for whom a PRHDR team from the summer trip had fashioned a sling from a plastic garden chair to help the family members move him easily from his bed . When Robin arrived with her team they found that he had received a motorized wheel chair, which was a big deal as it was the only one Robin ever remembers seeing there. "Watching him maneuver his way through the muddy rough roads and steep bumpy hills near his house was amazing," say Robin. It was very touching to her to see this boy who had been given such a gift of freedom and independence.

When asked if she would ever like to return to the DR again, Robin says, "I had a wonderful experience in the DR this past January, and I would love to volunteer and interpret for PRHDR again." Robin's thesis work for her masters grew out of her interpreting assignment for the USM Engineering Department students lead by Parnter's board member Julie Ellis during the Winter trip. The focus is on water quality improvements, hygiene and sanitation education for the village of Tinajitas in the DR. It is her hope someday to go back to the DR and implement the project.
Volunteer Superstars: Nuala Kavanagh
Nuala Half way across the world a part-time nurse involves an entire Ireland high school in raising funds to send eight young people to school in the Dominican Republic.

Nuala Kavanagh, now a PRHDR volunteer vet, has been traveling to the DR every winter since 2000 after she was introduced to the program while visiting her daughter in the Peace Corps. Kavanagh in her role as a pharmacist helps students stock medications and fill them for different diagnoses. "When we get to DR we begin to organize supply bags for each village filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, lotions and over the counter medicines. Then , we sort out the medicines we have brought down into categories such as respiratory and cardiac," says Kavanagh.

When she is not in the DR volunteering, Nuala lives in Ireland and works part-time as a school nurse and part-time as a triage nurse in an after hours clinic. While in the DR she realized that many girls living in remote villages didn't have the opportunity to go to high school because they could not afford uniforms, transportation or other school supplies, so she decided to take action.

She launched a students helping students program in her high school called "docas," meaning "hope" in Gaeilge. To raise money, Kavanagh and her students have "non-uniform" days in which they donate 2 euro to be out of uniform. They have also sponsored a walk to raise funds for the program. After sending out scholarship applications last August they received eight back, and not being able to refuse any one student they are currently helping all 8 students, male and female.

It's a great feeling for Kavanagh and her students to hear positive stories about how the students they help are doing in school and how the help they give motivates the DR students to keep their grades up and succeed. "I have worked as a nurse practitioner for forty years and feel I have some professional skills to offer to the patients and students who make the trip," Kavanagh says. It's the support of other volunteers that keeps her going back to the DR year after year. Her advice to someone who is thinking about volunteering is this, "think of what you have to offer and realize that everyone has a talent which can help enhance and enrich the lives of others."
Keep in Contact all the time!

Now you can keep in contact with us all the time by visiting the recently updated website at http://www.prhdr.org/.  At the website you can view Gallery photos, Volunteer Biographies, and more! 
To make a donation by mail you can fill out the form located here or make a donation by Paypal coming soon!
Thank You!

A thanks to Rebecca Marvil for providing the photo of Nancy Crotty.
A thanks to Emma James for providing the photo of Robin.

Thank you to our student "Partners" in Dennis Gilbert's Service Learning Class in the Media and Communications Department at USM Becky, Dan, Diedre, & David for producing , interviewing, and creating the first issue of Partners and for updating the website.

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PRHDR | P.O. Box 1742 | Portland | ME | 04104