Almost 10% if the world’s population lacks access to improved water sources, resulting in shorter life spans, poor health outcomes and dehydration among children. In countries such as the Dominican Republic, polluted water often leads to health epidemics, such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid. This led to the 2010 cholera epidemic in the Dominican Republic, resulting in nearly 32,000 residents suspected of having the disease and another 471 who died.
According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, having access to clean, sanitary water is an essential need, but many go without it On June 3, thirteen Fresno State students will visit the Dominican Republic on a service-learning project focusing specifically on clean water access, health promotion and disease prevention. Their efforts, guided by Dr. Miguel A. Perez, professor in the Department of Public Health, will include bringing clean water to six bateys – encampments where Haitian immigrants reside.
Through generous financial support of Fresno State’s Friends for Civic Engagement, funds will be used to purchase materials to provide clean water and educational tools for families residing at the bateys.
In addition, the Department of Public Health is seeking donations to support its Dominican Republic Clean Water Initiative. Donations will go toward the purchase purifiers for each batey, chlorine tablets to prevent larvae in stored water and for general supplies, including sanitation items and food for residents living in the most impoverished areas of the country.
The students will work closely with local public health officials and medical students from Universidad Central del Este to raise education of these materials and bring awareness of the prevention of waterborne diseases to the residents effected.
This visit will be the third year Fresno State students will engage in service-learning in the Dominican Republic. In the past, students have raised awareness of Zika Virus education and prevention, and provided health education activities. Many of them expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn about health on a global scale, but also to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished.
“Malnourishment was evident in some of the women and children. A few of the kids appeared to have Kwashiorkor, a severe protein-energy malnutrition,” Irene Rios, a Master of Public Health student, said in a reflection piece. “We met a mother of seven children who weighed just over 80 pounds. That day we were able to provide the most basic needs of beans, rice, noodles, maize, and oil for the families. No feeling can compare to the smiles and gratefulness of the families we received that day.”
Donations will be used to support material for this year’s trip, as well as future service-learning trips to the area. Tax deductible donations can be made to: Fresno State Foundation (ATTN: Dominican Republic Summer Program), 2345 E. San Ramon M/S MH 30, Fresno, CA 93740.
For more information, contact Dr. Miguel A. Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559.278.2897. To read more about the Dominican Republic service-learning course, please view the following links:
- Public Health students experience service-learning in the Dominican Republic (Oct. 2015)
- Fresno State students bring Zika Virus Education to the Dominican Republic (Dec. 2016)
- View videos from previous trips here.