It’s a bittersweet goodbye for Community Empowerment (CE) and the community of Peralta, Dominican Republic. Since 2003, CE, Rush Global Health and the community of Peralta has worked side-by-side to develop a sustainable and nationally-recognized medical clinic. August marked CE and Rush’s final medical trip to Peralta as the clinic, Unidad de Atención Primaria Los Jobos, has reached its goal of self-sustainability.
“In CE we understand that there is a very fine line that divides empowerment from assistance-based model that reproduces poverty,” said Alfredo Hernandez, Executive Director, Community Empowerment. “After achieving a successful self-sustaining community health model, we feel it is a duty to begin a transition that allows the community leadership team of Peralta to grow and develop on its own, making use of the tools and experiences accumulated in more than a decade of work together.
Through the proceeds of purified water sales and registration with the Dominican Ministry of Health and Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social, who are also providing medications, the clinic was able to hire a doctor, pharmacist, nurses and community health care workers. These positions were filled by local residents, many of whom had left Peralta due to a lack of employment opportunities and have now been able to return, work and contribute to their community.
CE will continue to provide support as needed through telemedicine; however, the last medical team saw patients side-by-side with the local staff. The surgical program will continue to work in Peralta and the regional hospital in Azua.
“Walking the journey with the Peralta leadership has been one of the most fulfilling personal and professional experiences of my life,” said Dr. Stephanie Crane, who initiated work in Peralta in 2002. “While we will miss our friends, colleagues and patients dearly, we know that the community is in great hands.
Here are some of the biggest accomplishments from CE’s partnership with Peralta:
Access to clean water for the entire community at an affordable price for the community and at no charge for the local schools
Successful business model which appropriates revenue from water purification business toward clinic overhead as well as permanent support from the Dominican Ministry of Health to sustain staff salaries and medications. This is the first public/private collaboration of its kind.
Employment for over 25 local residents
1700 life-changing surgical procedures that otherwise would not be obtained
Leadership training and development of local residents
CE will maintain its support, assessment and will support specific initiatives such as health coverage and medicines for people living isolated in the mountains of Peralta and a telemedicine program that will support the clinic team.
We celebrate that after multiple attempts, and some failures, the perseverance and hard work of the volunteers and the community leadership have made this success possible! There is no foolproof recipe for the success in this kind of initiatives, However, the perseverance and credibility of the local leadership, added to a partnership based on respect, humility and mutual accountability, are clearly characteristic elements of sustainable growth.
In this next chapter, the staff and the community leadership of Peralta will be the ones who will train and accompany the community leadership of Villa Verde in their adventure to build a community where basic health ceases to be a luxury and becomes a basic right-accessible to all! Check back more updates and news!