CC was founded in 2007 on the belief that by connecting those that care to those in need, powerful, lifelong changes can occur in both communities. Language, governments, culture, fear, pride can all be potential barriers to these connections, but we when we find ourselves at the intersections of these relationships, between vulnerable and resource-rich communities, we have more than an opportunity to make a difference…we have a responsibility.
In our partner communities in Nicaragua, our commitments persevere as they are founded on 10+ years of collaboration, trust, and faith. During this critical time of political instability in Nicaragua, our health programs there endure with the support of donors and other stakeholders who have formed resilient relationships over the years. Meanwhile, students and faculty from universities stateside teem with interest to experience service learning abroad with Comunidad Connect. This prompted us to explore opportunities to do so in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, and what we found is inspiring.
Montellano is a municipality on the northern coast of the DR, once known for its sugar cane factory that employed tens of thousands annually. The industry drove economic growth, and the need for cheap labor. Haitian immigrants came in droves and moved into shabby barracks provided by the sugar cane factory. Five years ago, the factory closed yet the Haitians stayed and find themselves today virtually stateless without clear rights to government-funded support programs.
In collaboration with Health Horizons International, we have begun building relationships with rural and semi-urban communities in Montellano since April. We have coordinated two groups of students and faculty from Kennesaw State (Nursing and Health Promotion & Education) and most recently, GA State’s Physical Therapy program. These incredible teams have trained community health promoters, exchanged experiences with fellow colleagues in local universities, conducted health fairs, seen patients in their homes and in community settings, and worked on household projects that have already directly impacted the lives of hundreds of people. Most importantly, these inaugural groups afford us the opportunity to return on multiple occasions, each time learning more and better understanding our roles as advocate and partner.
It is difficult to not compare the DR with Nicaragua, given our tenure in communities like Los Robles, San Esteban, and San Juan del Sur. Indeed our short time in the DR has reconfirmed how special Nicaragua is to us as people and as an organization. The good news is that engagement with the DR and Nicaragua is not mutually exclusive…in fact, we believe it is synergetic.
If you would like to learn more about our expansion to communities in the DR and our ongoing programming in Nicaragua, please contact us today. Otherwise, stay tuned via social media and future bulletins for stories of how together we are making a difference.