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  1. #1
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    Default The Rest of Our Story

    Well here we are mostly settled into Kentucky. My sister survived her 4-wheeler accident. Her brain swelling went down with no brain damage. She was to have her face reconstructed as every bone except the jaw bone was broken on the left side of her face, including her nose. While they were waiting for the swelling to go down, the bones all healed perfectly except the one supporting her eye which was shattered. They just had to rebuild that one bone. Even her vision is okay. Thank you to everyone who asked about her recovery.

    We are looking at another way to come to the DR, this time keeping our residency in the US. That way, we can keep US insurance for our daughter and buy the local and Mas Vida insurance in the DR. That will be sometime in the future, though.

    My first post was going to be about homeschooling and the possibility of getting a US Diploma, but I just wrote it all down in another thread. That is probably the question I get emailed the most. The second would be budget. I posted all I know in an earlier thread, and I hear that prices have all jumped since we left anyway. I would like to stress that we made our move using money that would make a big "ouch" if we lost it, but would not devastate us financially. Most of our money was left in the good 'ole US of A. I admire people who have up and moved and invested totally in the DR, but it is not something that we were ready to do. However, we would certainly have stayed at least one more school year if not for the insurance issue.


    Dogs:
    Probably the thing that I liked least in the DR are the dogs. It seemed as though every neighborhood we looked into had many houses with 2, 3, or 4 barking, snarling dogs. It scared the children to go for walks. When we lived in Perla Marina, we had to walk past a couple of these houses to go to the beach. At Villas Karibik, dogs often got loose and into fights. A doberman got his gate open and went after our little Domincan puppy. First time in my life that I have ever thrown rocks at a dog.

    When we left the country on May 30th which is 15 days past the date to fly dogs in cargo on AA. A dog can be carried under the seat in front of you if it is 20 lbs or less. (EDITED TO ADD: Wendy was a little over thirty pounds by now, and quite tall).We bought a ticket for Wendy ($50 bucks) and bought a pet transport bag. We had her on leash at the airport and an AA employee told me that she couldn't go. I said yes she could and she was going in that bag and pointed to it. She asked if she had been in it. I told her that is how she got here and I sort of turned up my nose and looked away. I meant to the airport. How could I help it if she thought I meant that she flew in that way. We squished the dog into the bag, and the sweet little thing stayed there quietly for five hours. I had no other choice but to abandon her. We spent 300 pesos for her health guarantee papers in English and Spanish, but when I tried to show them at customs in Miami, I just got waved through. I told them that I had a dog, and the agent asked if I had any dog food. I told him that I had brought a baggie full to feed her when we landed. He was floored, sent me to someone else who told me to have a nice day.

    Now, every dominican dog that I met in the DR was mellow and just kind of nosed around. This thing is a wild little creature since we brought her here who has more energy than my six year old son. She is one of the smartest dogs we have ever owned, but she wears me out. She hates to be inside and chews everything in sight when left alone. I wonder if it the cooler weather. I am trying to get my Florida sister to go down and get one for her FEMA training.

    I have more thoughts and experiences to post, and I will try to get them up this week.

    Mainer (I hear it is snowing in Maine today. Is it true, MaineGirl?)
    Last edited by mainer; 10-21-2003 at 04:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Mainer, good to hear from you. Barbara and I have been wondering what you are up to. And I am very glad to hear that you may be returning. Make it soon.

  3. #3
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    Default Volunteer work

    Thanks Ken,
    We were on our way to your condo to let you guys know that we were leaving and to say goodbye. We stopped to check the email and I got the news of my sister's accident. Wiped that visit right outta our heads.

    When I first asked about volunteer work in the Dr, I got an answer that it just was not done. Well, this is what we found.

    Mercy Ships, which is a traveling ship that does free facial and orthopedic surgeries was in Puerto Plata. We found out through a friend, and we asked for a tour. We hopped on the bus (read truck with seats facing each other in the back), and without thought went to Puero Plata to see the ship. As a nurse, I have always thought that Mercy ship was the ultimate in missionary work. We had even downloaded an application, but I couldn't picture my Steven spending a year on the boat. There are opportunities to serve on the ship in all categories from medical and navigation right down to deck hands. Also, many volunteers fly to the DR (or other country) and find a place to stay in the town. Then they work in the pre-op or other tents that are set up at the dock. There are several Mercy Ships, but this one stays in the Carribean unless they are raising money. Apparently there were only certain kids in certain villages who could be treated because of political reasons. I don't understand the politics in the DR, but I know that some people were denied access to Mercy Ship by the DR government. That tour was one of the coolest things that I did in the DR.

    Colegio Nueva Vida has a mission school that accepts volunteers. Certified teachers are at a premium. The school cannot afford to pay a salary comparable to International School of Sosua, so they rely a lot on missionary or volunteer teachers. This is where we spent our time in the DR.

    New Missions which runs the Nueva Vida school began in Haiti. They have many schools in Haiti and have funded a village in Sosua for primarily Haitian immigrants. There is a village with typical housing and a school and playground in the village. The school is run by Dominicans and is considered to be slightly above public schools. These kids were so impressed with my digital camera, I wished I had brought a Polaroid. The kids were starved for attention and I couldn't speak much Spanish to them. Most of them spoke Creole which I didn't realize until I left. I do have some background in French. There was a little girl whose shoes were way too tight and she was limping. I tried to get her another pair, but I was discouraged from doing that by the Dominican "principal".

    Nueva Vida has a satellite school in El Batey which is considered a "tutor" program. The kids buy their uniform shirts, and then they are admitted. There were several Dominican parents who brought their kids here after public school. Other children used it as their primary means of education. The head teacher is a Dominican teacher named Tony who was educated in the US, but went back to the DR to help the children. He was wonderful with the kids. I have a photo of him teaching an 8 year old to write the number three. These kids were so far behind mine, that I wanted to cry. I couldn't do much for that school because the classes are all in Spanish. There was a little boy hanging on the fence watching. We were told that he stands there every day and learns from outside. He cannot be enrolled because he does not have a uniform. The mission does not provide the shirts because they are looking for some sort of commitment from the families. We paid 7 bucks for a shirt for him a couple of sizes too big, and you would have thought we gave him a million dollars. This school is very effective because as a tutor program it has more autonomy than a registered school would. Mr. Mainer has been working hard to raise funds here in the US and get supplies sent down for this program. The kids do not have paper, but take turns with a chalkboard easel in the front of the class. They have a need for American chalk because the chalk in the DR doesn't hold up well.

    Dr. Bob has a missionary program that provides medical care and construction for the people in "the bush". His program seems to be very very active. I don't have a contact for him, but maybe someone else does.

    The kids in the DR are the biggest reason that I would come back. I felt as though I had abandoned them when we left the mission and came back to the US.

  4. #4
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    Default I miss you guys!

    I am glad that your sister is getting well. That must have been horrific.

    Please keep us up to date. We await your return sometime in the future..

    God bless,

    HB & family

  5. #5
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    Good to hear that your sister is getting better mainer. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you. I'll be in Sosua next month. Maybe next reunion when you'll have moved back there again.

    God Bless

  6. #6
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    Default Health Care

    I think that there is a thread devoted solely to medical providers in the DR. In four months we had very little illness. We were there from the end of January to the end of May. Not one of us developed intestinal disorder. My daughter got sniffly for a couple of days, but no real cold symptoms. My son who has had a horrible problem with allergies and croup did fine. He did develop a fever of 101 to 104 for about six days around Easter. No other symptoms. We had been out in the villages, so I was slightly concerned about dengue, but no other symptoms developed. Then, after he was fever free for a day, we made plans to go to Santiago with MaineGirl. That morning, Steven broke out in a heavy rash on his arms and his legs. We cancelled Santiago and took him to a recommended clinic just to be sure he was okay. He was diagnosed with German Measles also called Rubella. Imagine that. He has been vaccinated and the rash was not at all like Rubella, nor on his face or neck. I paid 200 pesos went home and cured the Rubella with Benadryl. Then, we found out that we should have avoided that doctor.

    Other than that, we sailed through medically speaking.

    We had a friend who was in serious condition from an amoeba that had not responded to treatment for several years. We heard that she had been admitted to the hospital in Puerto Plata, so we took a publico to PP and then a motoconcho to the hospital. Noone spoke English in the hospital, but they understood we wanted Americana. We were taken upstairs and a metal door was unlocked and we were let into a hallway. The stairway was very dirty, comparable to a subway stairway in NYC. The hallways upstairs had one wall half cement block and the upper half chain link fence. Then it was open to the outside. The gate to the hallway was like an old driveway gate, rusted and bent. The hallway was filthy with peeling paint on the block walls and grime and grease ground in. There was very little "sweepable" trash, but the floor was filthy tile. The rooms were very long with 5 beds on each side. Many of the women were naked, and there were no nurses upstairs except one in an office outside the locked hallways. There were no curtains between the beds. The rooms were dark and moldy smelling. The IV poles and bottles looked like something from the WWII Era. We were shown into every room, but passed on going down the men's hallway. The maternity section had the same 10 bed layout with lots of visitors and the babies were in bed with the mothers. I did not see a nursery and I didn't ask if there was one. We were assured (I think) that this was the only hospital in PP, so we continued our search. Our guide knocked on the ICU door, and a grumpy nurse came out and grumbled at us. The tiny peek that I got through the dooor showed more of the same floor, but that is all I saw. At least this nurse had on a uniform. There was none of the bustling about of lots of staff that you would see in a US hospital. I am not even sure that our guide was a nurse. If you can picture at least 3 (it seems that there were four) women's ten bed wards, and however many there were in the men's with one central tiny office with one woman sitting there. As a hospital nurse in the US, even with 8 patients, you don't ever sit down and often don't get to have a chance for meal breaks.

    I was very thankful that this was one of the few times that we didn't have the kids with us. We were birthday shopping for our daughter, so we left them with the maid. I think I scrubbed for 20 minutes after we got home, and I washed all of our clothes.

    I found out the next day that our friend was in a lovely private clinic in PP receiving excellent medical care for a very reasonable price.

  7. #7
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    HB and Anna,
    Thanks for your kind words. You must have both posted while I was writing my very long post.

    I apologize for the length of the posts, but there is so much to say!

    Mary

  8. #8
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    Mainers!
    I was just thinking of you--wondering if we could connect here in Maine. Yes, we had two inches this morning. I drove into Baileyville for work and they had heavy rain. Someone told me I live in the "snow belt" and had to laugh at that. The whole state is in the "snow belt" .

    It is great to hear the rest of your story and I have to ask, why Kentucky? Is it just to be with sis? What a miraculous recovery of her facial fractures. God is good!!

    I bought a doll for Kateri's birthday, intending to give it to her on the bus to Santiago. Because we didn't meet up I passed it along to the Sunday school teacher at the church who said she would run a Bible quiz for the muchachitas, with the doll as a prize.

    I have much the same stake as you in terms of returning. I just have the faces of certain kids in my mind.

    Your information is priceless for everyone here, so glad you are posting again.

    MG

  9. #9
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    Default Mainer/Mainegirl

    Mainer, reading about your experiences in the DR is inspiring.
    The both of you serve as a great example to all of us about how just the simple things in life can make a difference to those less fortunate. Making someone happy is an even greater reward.

    Incidentally, I realized that I sent Mainegirl a PM asking how her sister was holding up. I just realized that the "sister" was Mainer's. I'm happy to know that your sister, Mainer, is recovering.

    Best wishes to the two of you & your loved ones.
    Keep up the great work!

    Ccarabella
    Last edited by ccarabella; 10-22-2003 at 12:45 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Mainer

    So sorry to hear about your sister, but it sounds like she is on the road to recovery. Also sorry that your DR experience wasn't as long as you had hoped it would be, but I am sure you gained valuable experience from the time spent there.

    I don't know where in Maine you reside (if you even located back to that region--can't remember what you said--CRS), but if you are at all close to the Maine seaside near Nova Scotia, I will be there in November. It would be great if we could meet somehow. I know that is a distance, but maybe we could meet near some ferry landing.

    Tondra

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