ISV in the DR: Moving from Dirt Floors to a Healthier Future

by on Monday, 18 June 2012

Volunteers preparing cement in Los Francos © used with permission by David DeMinico, ISV Project Coordinator, Dominican Republic

ISV’s projects in the Dominican Republic focus on two vital areas of development: infrastructure and children’s health through our summer camps.

The Health Education and Language Program (HELP) emphasizes hygiene, water storage and parasitical infections. As many Dominicans live with dirt floors, straw roofs, banana-leaf walls and no water storage facilities, our aim is to improve the quality of life of the people within the communities we serve. With families as large as ten all living under one roof, the link between dirt floors and parasitical infections in children is undeniable. Parasites, like tetanus and nematodes are found in soil and can infest domestic animals. They can enter the body by way of scratches, wounds or eating foods which are not thoroughly cleaned. They can also be ingested by sucking or chewing fingers (or toes), scratching an itch or rubbing an eye – all normal behaviors in children.

ISV works with local organisations and community leaders to survey families who are most susceptible to health risks associated with the parasites. By installing cement floors, building cisterns and washing facilities in community homes, we effectively eliminate the likelihood of parasitical infections. Additionally, by installing an elevated cement floor in the home, we prevent flooding and the collection of stagnant waters which provide breeding grounds for Dengue and Malaria– carrying mosquitoes. This is the conditional solution. The behavioral solution is addressed by educating youth about why their home has been refurbished; why they have a cement floor, why they should be careful about what the put in their mouth and why their health is so important. Learning why is key to the sustainability of this initiative.

When the project is over and we send the children back to their homes on the last day of summer camp, it is not hard to understand why ISV is humbled by the difference we are making in the lives of our wonderful hosts.

Completed cement flooring © used with permission by David DeMinico

Many thanks to all of ISV’s volunteers who have helped in the past and who will undertake this work in the future.

To learn more about ISV’s volunteer program in the Dominican Republic visit our website.

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