Huge thanks to June for taking supplies to Domincan Republic, she said it was one of the best experiences she’s ever had! Definitely worth the read ^_^[NJT Ottawa]
“What an amazing journey this was. I would never have done such a thing if it were not for our daughter Ashley and her inspiring delivery of medical supplies on a recent trip to Cuba. She was the one who got us set up with NJT and was the one who kept most of the communication going between all of us. A big thanks Ashley for all you did and again for inspiring me to be a better person and helping those in need.
Also a big thanks to Riam in Vancouver for his help and suggestions and putting the supplies together for the hospital I choose in Santo Domingo, The Robert Reid Cabral Pediatric Hospital. As well, a big thanks to Riam’s wife Nour for delivery the supplies to us here in Victoria from Vancouver. So nice to meet someone in person.
After picking up the supplies from Nour, my husband and I stopped at a St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift store to buy a large tote to pack the supplies in. We found the perfect one, a bag covered in red ladybugs. Perfect for a children’s hospital.
I laid out all the medical supplies in our dining room as I am an RN and couldn’t resist organizing everything into categories. Total weight packed, 19 pounds.
My husband and I were in the Dominican so he could attend a Samsung conference and prior to arriving there I had been in communication with a wife of another conference attendee. Her name is Josie and though she did not have enough time to get medical supplies together to deliver herself, she did ask if she could come with me when I delivered mine. I was more than happy to have her join me and even more happy when she produced a small tote full of stuffed toys she had gathered before leaving Canada to give to the children at the hospital. We were set.
Our hotel, The El Embajador, arranged for a taxi driver, Antonio, to pick us up at the hotel on Tuesday morning, February 27th. We quickly realized he knew very little English but after showing him the name of the hospital listed on the Certificate of Humanitarian Aid we were off. The ride there was an adventure on its own but we arrived safely in less than 10 minutes. He agreed to wait for us and would not allow me to carry the bag into the hospital.
Once at the front door Antonio worked his magic by relaying what we were doing there to the fellows sitting at the entrance to the hospital. Thank goodness there was an English speaking ambulance driver among them, Francesco, who took over and welcomed us in. Francesco escorted us in to an office on the main floor that he found locked and asked us to wait there while he went off to find the lady who worked in it. It sounded like she would be the one who would say yes or no to the supplies. While standing outside the office a young boy came up to us speaking Spanish and obviously wanting something. Francesco and the lady returned at almost the same time and Francesco relayed that the boy wanted to polish our shoes for money. We did not have the kind of shoes on to polish but were more than happy to help him out with some pesos and one of the stuffed animals. He smiled more at the stuffed animal than the pesos.
That is Josie with the young shoe polisher. I’d like to note here that all the pictures taken at the hospital were only done with the consent of those in them. Again, Francesco was our English speaking angel.
A crowd was now starting to gather so the office was unlocked and the lady gestured us in, closing the door behind us. I must add here that I never did get the lady’s name and if it wasn’t for Francesco interpreting for us I don’t think she was prepared to take the supplies. It turned out she was concerned that the supplies would be more suited for adults and not children. However, once she allowed me to open the bag and go through it with her she was more than happy to take them. I did though, have to write in my own handwriting, on the Certificate of Humanitarian Aid that I left with her, that the supplies were a donation and that no money was exchanged. Obviously this was a huge concern.
After the medical supplies were signed over Francesco asked us if we would like to go upstairs to one of the wards and hand out the stuffies we brought. We couldn’t believe this could have even been an option and of course said yes. He then turned and asked the lady and she said yes, so off we went. Feeling humbled that they would let us in their world so easily, we followed Francesco up 2 floors to an all girls ward on the 3rd floor to meet some patients and hopefully brighten their day.
Mission accomplished. The patients and their family members were so grateful that we just took the time out for them and showed any interest in them. Again all translated through Francesco.
Once every patient in the room had their stuffie, Francesco escorted us back into the hall to make our way downstairs to the lobby. Word was out though and thank goodness we had two last stuffed toys, one for another young boy and one for an older lady who were waiting outside the girls ward when we came out. It was becoming clear that should I or Josie do this again, more stuffed toys would have to be packed.
Francesco got us back to the lobby and even allowed Josie and I to give him a big hug for all his help. He was amazing and such a nice man.
Out we headed to the taxi and Antonio, who had waited so patiently for us to return. On the trip back to the hotel Josie and I relived the whole event and both agreed it was truly one of the best experiences we have ever had.
Thanks again everyone,