Friday, October 25, 2013

Life as a Peace Corps Gypsy, Part 3

That's right, still roaming around. This post will be a little more heavy on work related stuff and lighter on the beach pics...

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at the World Cocoa Foundation's 24th annual Partnership meeting at the Occidental Embajador Hotel in Santo Domingo.
Why was I at that, you ask?
Because my new project is working with a cocoa cooperative. Since I know very little about the cocoa industry, my boss thought it would be helpful for me to get a crash course.
The Minister of Agriculture talking about the cocoa industry in the DR

My boss, Michael, doing his part of a panel presentation about the partnership Peace Corps has with Mondalez (Kraft foods). For more info on that, click here

Michael answering questions on the panel.

So why is Peace Corps so involved in the cocoa industry here? In the link above it mentions that Kraft foods is funding a PC initiative in the Dominican Republic called Construye tus Sueños (Build your Dreams) which is a business plan competition for people between the ages of 15 and 29. Volunteers teach the entrepreneurship class to young people in their communities who then (if they choose) write a plan for a business that they would like to start. At the national competition winning plans are chosen to receive financing to begin the businesses. 

Coincidentally, the Construye tus Sueños (CTS) national conference was Thursday through Saturday at the Magna 365 hotel in Santo Domingo. 

Group photographers John Serpas and myself

Day 1 group photo

Judges panel

CTS student Francisco excited but a little nervous to present!

Happy Birthday to Sam and Francisco!

Final certifications on the last day

A presentation about entrepreneurs role in the economy.

Then, to celebrate everyones hard work and birthdays the right way, we headed over to Hooters to watch the Clemson vs Florida State game.

Sam and Kate representing their alma maters, the Seminoles and the Tigers. 

There was beer and hot wings and plenty of sillyness.

A good time was had by all. Hope you're all keeping warm up there! Kaley

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Unemployment on a tropical island? Okay.

So as you all probably know by now, I was taken out of my first site that I was assigned as a Peace Corps volunteer due to a couple of security issues. If you didn't know, click here to get updated.

I have officially been homeless for 4 weeks. Since my last post the Peace Corps safety and security team completely emptied out my house and now all of my worldly belongings are in the warehouse at the PC office. When I'm here in the capital I live in a hotel with air conditioning and wifi, which is not bad but can be a little lonely sometimes. I think my boss is just wrapping up the development for my new site which will be up on the north coast between Sosua and Samana. More on this to come.

In order to keep myself occupied and not bored to death/depressed about  missing my friends in my old site I've decided to do a little traveling in the DR. Here's what my travel map for the last three weeks or so looks like..

The red lines are the trips with Lexie and Natalie, the yellow line is my visit to Monte Cristi to hang out with Andy for a week and the purple line is my trip to Santiago from Monte Cristi to translate for a med mission of ear, nose and throat docs. 

Andy is another business volunteer who works with ecotourism projects. If you're interested in reading his blog, click right here to check it out!

This is how sea salt is made, in a flat like this!

annd that's Andy, looking really good.

White mangroves, part of the salt making process.

El Morro, the beach in Montecristi.

It's ugly, I know.

Then Ariel made us Mofongo with fried cheese and salami, which was delicious.

Some major flow shopping in the Haitian Market in Dajabon.

Getting my fill of Montecristi nightlife on Calle 8

I told Andy that at least two beach days were necessary on my visit, so here's the malecon beach in Montecristi. 

Night two on Calle 8 with the one and only Ariel! And yes, that's sweat all over me...

Then, after going to bed at 4:30am I woke up at 9:00am to catch my bus to Santiago. Four other volunteers and myself met at the ILAC center just outside of the city to begin out week interpreting in the clinic, OR, pre-surgery and post-surgery areas of the mission. As I mentioned before they docs were ear nose and throat specialists, so they were removing tonsils, adenoids, inserting ear tubes and other cosmetic surgeries. 
Honestly, I signed up for this med mission because I have nothing else to do. I've never really done anything medically related and didn't know what to expect. The experience was eye opening and extremely gratifying. These doctors and nurses come down here on their own dime and volunteer their time to perform these surgeries on kids who are suffering. The entire year they gather clothes, toys, cosmetics, medicine and food to bring down here. Each one of them brings two 50 pound suitcases full of medical equipment to do their work and pay thousands to ship the rest of it down here. 

I spent most of the week working in the pre screening clinic with a pediatrician named Kurt Davey, and while I'm plugging away at blogs I suggest you check out his son's (a fellow nomad), if you have a here. Anyway, Kurt's from Nebraska just like most of the other docs and nurses. We saw all of the kids as they came in; did physicals, talked meds and then decided on their surgical needs. We were a great team. The best part was that I essentially got to meet each child that was having surgery that week in the clinic, and then I got to see them and their families later in the week when they came out of surgery. I'm telling you, I'm not even a kid lover... but when I saw those little heads lift up out of their hospital beds as they woke up from the anesthesia to wave at a familiar face (mine) I smiled bigger and bigger each time. As their teary eyed moms thanked me for everything I did (ha, I'm just the interpreter lady- not a doctor) I realized that through all of my struggles lately in this country, there is still pure good in being a volunteer. Then I got puked on. Twice. 

Pre-surgery consisted of lots of coloring books, toys, bubbles and balloons.

In the OR, those little bloody chunks on the tray are this girl's tonsils :)

Annnd here we are in post-surgery pretending to be doctors. Payasos.

The courtyard of the ILAC center

And these are the cabins for the doctors.

Here we are all cleaned up at dinner on the last night!

Now I'm back in the capital with meetings and conferences all week, and then my travels continue. Stay tuned!

Besos, Kaley