Bridging the gap

Written by: 
Patty

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Today started with a 5 a.m. alarm. We had to leave by 6 a.m. with a breakfast on the fly to make it through the city traffic of Santo Domingo for an 8 a.m. meeting. A little early, we sat in the van and quietly reflected on the day ahead.

Our first meeting was with the Ministry for Women in the Dominican Republic. We were greeted by Jessica, Director of Ministry for Women and soon joined by Consuelo, Director of Social Work Department in Woman’s Ministry. Of the many things they shared with us, we were most impressed with how invested they are in the recovery of women who have experienced violence. There are 7 offices in the Dominican Republic that are staffed with more than 150 psychologists and lawyers available to women and children. They have a 24 hour crisis line manned by staff available whenever a woman needs information or help. In 2023, there were over 8000 calls and 500 women rescued. We shared our program and our role in facilitating conversations in at risk communities.

Our next meeting was with the Ministry of Public Health. We met with the Vice Minister and 6 doctors, all women, responsible for different programs, from the prevention of and transmission of STI’s and the support of the most vulnerable in their country, to programs to identify domestic violence, senior and elder abuse and assistance and prevention of human trafficking. We were told of a current situation where 5 Columbian women were rescued from human trafficking in the DR and are now receiving medical attention at a maternity hospital. We were asked by the Vice Minister what we hoped to accomplish in our short time with the communities we were visiting. We explained our goal was to help the community identify what concerns they have around violence and to assist in creating solutions. It was explained to us that there is a high tolerance for violence in the DR and that the Ministry’s challenge has been to educate their communities on violence prevention.

Both ministries expressed concerns about how to bridge the gap between government services and the communities. This was the first time in all of the EVE Team’s trips we have ever been invited to speak with government officials.

After lunch, we were off to our first leadership session in the village of New Jerusalem. Some of the teenagers from the local school put up a poster inviting everyone in the community to come, and it didn’t mention adults only! So between the laughter of the children and the noise from the bar, there were a lot of distractions. However, we feel we got our vision across and the first step in identifying the concerns in the community. We look forward to what tomorrow brings for the remaining full day of our leadership.

It was a big day, and we are tired! But we are also full of new knowledge about this beautiful country.

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