The Chirino Clinic Project
Jim and Christy Benedict
Two years ago, in March of 2019 Christy and I visited a small village called Chirino for the first time, accompanied by members of the Santo Domingo, Mirador Rotary Club in The Dominican Republic.
We had been asked by José Lopez to help with support for a project there to provide potable water to this isolated economically distressed community In conjunction with his Rotary Club in Lansing Michigan – Rotary District 6360. That project was initiated by Fundación Despertando Sonrisas (Awakening Smiles Foundation), a local grass-root NGO registered in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic which was founded by Agripina Concepción. They had been able to start the construction but the building was left unfinished when some promised funding dried up. Charity Anywhere Foundation raised the funds to finish the building, and the Michigan Rotary funded the water treatment equipment. LDS Charites of the Church of Jesus Chirst of Latter-Day Saints funded the wells. That project has been successfully completed, and they are currently processing potable water to provide at a greatly reduced price to the village.
While we were there, however, we learned of another problem plaguing the people of Chirino. Their village is surrounded by a large palm oil plantation that was installed years ago on government land leased to a large agribusiness corporation. Many of the villagers work at subsistence wages on this plantation. The land that was ceded to this corporate entity included the only health clinic in the area. The corporation, for unclear reasons, shut it down. As a result, this community has been without easily accessible health care for many years. There have been preventable permanent injuries and deaths as a result. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for medical care is especially pressing.
We visited the site, and it looked to us like a very needed and doable project. Agripina Concepción and other Chirino leaders were in the process of trying to get the clinic property transferred back to the community, and were successful several months after our visit.
However, as they began to evaluate the building for repairs, it was discovered that the roof construction included sheeting material that contained asbestos, and the building could not be used until that was removed. It was unclear whether the clinic structure could be salvaged at all.
That was the last we heard about this, until recently, when José Lopez, informed us that the community had managed to replace the roof. But that is about all they have resources to do. The Michigan Rotary District 6360 has raised funds to repair the doors and windows and that work is underway. So what is needed now are donations for replacement furnishings, medical supplies and equipment. Once that is available, staffing will be provided by the Ministry of Health.
José provided an excel file with a breakdown of the budget for this project. I would summarize it as follows:
- The total estimated cost is $24,158.54.
- The cost to finish the repairs and painting is $9476.47.
- The cost for the needed equipment is $10,182.07.
- In kind donations that have been committed total $4500. This includes the dental chair and the donation listed for Pastoral Social Caritas.
- The Lansing Rotary has committed to $4500.
- Local in-country Rotary clubs, and other foundations have approved $750.50, $800, and $578 for a total of $2,128.50
- The committed donations available so far, then, total $11,128.50.
- That leaves $13,030 yet to be raised.
Charity Anywhere Foundation has been asked, once again, to help this community. We are raising funds to contribute toward the furnishings and basic medical supplies to make it possible to return this clinic to service. The ultimate goal is to make up the $13,000 shortfall. We believe that this will literally prevent permanent injuries and save lives.