The Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise has been working in the Dominican Republic since the hurricane devastated the island in September 1998. The first trip to the town of Consuelo in October 1998 was by two Rotarians, Blair Buchanan and Bob Jarvest together with chain saws and generators. Since then, many members have visited and worked on various projects in Consuelo and the bateys (small communities) located in the sugar cane fields which surround Consuelo.
Our partners in Consuelo are three Grey Sisters who have lived and worked in Consuelo for over 50 years. The Grey Sisters are Canadian nuns whose mother house is located in Pembroke, Ontario.
We have been involved in many projects to help improve the lives of people in the communities. Several of our members raised thousands of dollars with bicycle rides to Chicago and through the Canadian Rockies to finance the expansion of the adult training school from two classrooms to seven classrooms. We have been instrumental in providing daily meals to over 60 seniors through a program called “Adopt a Senior”. $200 will help feed a senior for a year. The club has helped to provide clean water to over 75 residents with the installation of biosand water filters which are manufactured on the island. We have also installed children’s playgrounds in many of the schools in the area.
In past years the club has shipped several shipping containers to the Consuelo containing school supplies, medical supplies, clothes and shoes, bicycles, tools and much more.
Several years ago two children suffering from “brittle bones” disease and unable to walk were brought to Canada for surgery at the Shriners hospital in Montreal. Both now live normal lives in their home country. Since then, we have provided funding for surgery for two more children suffering from the same condition. The surgery is now conducted in the Dominican Republic.
Our current projects include the installation of more water filters, solar light systems in homes in the countryside, and distribution of food bags to the very needy. To date over 70 solar light systems have been installed and in excess of 1000 bags of food have been distributed. These bags contain enough food to feed a family of four for a week.
In the spring of 2015 we expect to install 50 water filters, 40 solar light systems and distribute another 200 food bags. Rotarian Bob Jarvest will spend 9 weeks in Consuelo heading up these projects together with other visiting Rotarians.