Club Member David Knoppert Leaves for Dominican Republic on October29th

The Rotary club of London Hyde Park is proud to support  the Rotary club of Festival City, Stratford’s Medical Mission to the Dominican Republic with a donation of CAD$500 for children’s vitamins and with fellow club member David Knoppert volunteering for the mission as their pharmacist.  The team of 24 leaves for Sousa on October 29, 2015 returning November 15th.  You can follow the team's exploits by clicking on the link located at the top left of our home page, which will take you to their blog.  
More than a third of the Dominican Republic lives on less than $1.25 a day and over 20 percent of the country lives in extreme poverty.  Most of the poverty in the Dominican Republic is concentrated in the rural areas.  The rural poverty rate is about three times as high as the urban poverty rate.
Though the economy has been growing since 1996, economic inequality remains a major problem.  Since the government does not provide more than 4 percent of GDP spending on education, only 30 percent of children finish primary school.  In a system where education is the road to the middle class, creating economic barriers to education perpetuates a system of institutional inequality.
Half of the country does not have access to clean water, and over half of the country does not have sanitary toilets. Healthcare is expensive and hard to find in rural areas[1].
The Rotary club of Festival City Stratford has decided to make a difference for the people in the small rural community of Sosua, located on the northern coast in the province of Puerto Plata. Jean Aitcheson, Team Leader, and her husband vacationed in Sosua, Dominican Republic in January of this year.  They took medical dressings and supplies that were given to the local Rotary club.  In the discussion that followed, the Sosua Rotarians expressed the need for a medical team to give care to the remote villages where the poorest of the poor live.  Her club, Festival City Rotary, agreed to be a project partner with Rotary Sosua and was subsequently approved for a Rotary District 6330 Grant to help support the project.  
The club assembled a team of 24 people including:, 1 Physician, 10 Nurses, 1 Pharmacist (David Knoppert from our club), 1 pharmacy technician, 1 Respiratory Therapist, 1 Physiotherapist, and 9 helpers.  All the volunteers pay their own expenses as well as raising money for needed supplies.  The services being provided to the estimated 1,200 to 1,500 people includes:  
  • Health and Hygiene teaching;
  • Dental Fluoride treatments for children 5 to 14;
  • reading glasses for those with close vision deficit;
  • medical assessments by Nurses and Physician;
  • lab tests of Urinalysis, Blood Sugar,
  • Pregnancy tests and Hemoglobin; and
  • Complete Pharmacy support.  
The team is taking 71 hockey bags filled with supplies including several bags of baseball equipment for the children. 
Most of the supplies were donated from the medical recycling depot in Stratford, but they also had to purchase a lot of antibiotics, topical ointments, analgesics, vitamins, glasses, worm treatment, fluoride etc. and pay the expenses of the translators for the clinics in Dominican.  
                             Photo of Jean Aitcheson from 2009 humanitarian mission inserting intravenous catheter
The Team Leader is Jean Aitcheson, a Registered Nurse with 51 years experience, working in acute care at Stratford General Hospital.  Her first Humanitarian mission was 20 years ago to Guatemala, and since then has participated in or led 30 more to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru, Guyana, Philippines and Malawi Africa.  This is the first Rotary to Rotary project and she is very excited to include 6 Rotary members, and expose 18 others to a Rotary project.  While Jean is a relatively new Rotary Member, only 7 years, she is already a Paul Harris Fellow + 2, a member of the Paul Harris Society, and chair of the club’s International service committee and a very active member.
[1] The Borgen Project. Posted February 10, 2014. Accessed October 26, 2015