Projects in the Dominican Republic
Project Director Ruben Ottenwalder
The relationship with Ruben and his community around Baitoa is one of our most extensive. Our past projects include a community center and water well in La Lomita, a chicken coop, and a home to care for the elderly. Several drives have been held providing shoes for the poorest members of the community as well as school supplies for the local children. Our most recent project has been to help develop safe stoves. Ruben and his team have built nearly 20 houses in the community. Out of this relationship along with his work with other American groups has led to the launch of Hearts DR a Dominican Republic NGO. This page will be updated soon with lots more information about the current projects and opportunities to work with this community.
San Jose Adentro
The goal of this project is to provide a safe environment and care for elders who have no family members. Economic challenges in rural areas have forced many Dominicans to move to larger cities or to immigrate to the US leaving elderly individuals without a safety net. Ruben Ottenwalder and Jesus Valerio built a small 5-room house and hired a woman to provide care for these individuals. They also provide food and medical transportation as needed. The elder care home currently houses 2 individuals. Providing food, medicine, supplies and care for one year costs $6000. Seven individual donors and GRACE have contributed to this project. Ongoing funding of $300 per month is required to provide quality care for the other individuals.
Since 2006 GRACE Cares has partnered with a local hero, Ruben Ottenwalder to assist the vulnerable population in La Lomita located in the hills of San Jose province in the central part of the Domincan Republic. Ruben has partnered with the 42 families who live in this isolated farming community to identify their needs and future goals. To date GRACE has partnered with the people of La Lomita on three projects and is planning a fourth.
In 2007 GRACE provided funding for the construction of a community center where the children can play, receive healthy meals and education. The center also serves as the clinic for mobile medical services. The land was donated locally and community members donated labor as well as some materials. In subsequent donations after construction GRACE provided school supplies and classroom items collected through multiple drives and purchased with donations. The creation of the community center is an example of how GRACE partners with the community and helps them partner with existing services.
In 2008 funds were provided for the community to put in a well. The people of La Lomita helped to dig the well and lay the pipes. Before the well was put in people had to walk for a half hour to collect water. Given the distance there was never enough water to drink, cook or clean with. Ruben and a community leader are now discussing expanding the number of areas served by the well with the local government. GRACE empowers local people to help them access governmental services and provide for their community's needs.
Poverty is the root of the difficulties in La Lomita. Without jobs it is challenging for parents to provide their families with food. To increase local sustainability GRACE has provided funding to start an egg business. This business will employ local people and is prodcuing nutritious affordable eggs locally. Incredibly this project was funded by a 12 year old girl, Grace Namaya Springer-Goldberg, who designed, made and sold earrings and jewelry to raise $1500. Great need and opportunity exist for more projects like this that require only a small amount of seed funding to get started. Donors to GRACE cares are invited to specify a specific project they would like to fund.
Click Here for the full Press Release on Grace's trip to La Lomita.
Our next project planned with La Lomita is to help provide safer stoves that use less wood and produce less smoke. This project will save people time and energy in collecting wood that can be used improving other aspects of their lives. It helps preserve local resource and the environment and will improve the respiratory health of the community. The eventual construction and sale of stoves to other communities will provide employment for the citizens of La Lomita and nearby communities. GRACE needs only $2000 to get this simple but exciting project funded.
Our partnership with La Lomita is continuing and growing. Pictures and of these projects will be available soon. To discuss working with the people of La Lomita or if you have any questions please send us an email.