Page 1

October 2010


Members of the Directive Council of Mission ILAC


Mons. Ramón Benito de la Rosa y Carpio

t the end of August I completed my first year as pastoral director of ILAC-CESI. It was a homecoming, of sorts, because from 1976 to 1980 as a young college grad, I had helped Fr. Ernesto Travieso and Fr. Narciso Sanchez transition ILAC into its health care components. To return thirty years later as a Jesuit priest to the roots of my vocation is a huge blessing for me. As you will read in this newsletter, it has been a very productive and successful year in our many programs.

Ernesto F. Travieso, S.J. Andy Alexander, S. J. Mario Dávalos Marcel Morel Irma Frank Cristóbal Viera Robert Della Rocca Alfredo Estrada Mercedes C. Capellán Robert Heaney Joseph Lynch Carmen G. Ureña Ricardo E. Brugal Publisher Grisbel Medina R. Writing Inmaculada Aracena Photography Juan Guzmán Collaboration José Miguel Portés Design: Edma’s Grafics (809.226.5580) Print in: Editora de Revistas Misión Ilac: Licey al Medio Tel.: 809.736.0095 •

What stands out most for me was our response to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti in January. Teams of doctors and nurses from Creighton University played major role in caring for injured Haitians at Good Samaritan Hospital in Jimani. Like the Gospel story, each member of the teams along with the outstanding support staff from the ILAC Center in Licey, showed their goodness in serving their brothers and sisters who had fallen victim to a disaster. Through their compassionate service of our Haitian brothers and sisters, they showed who their neighbor is, indeed. We are all made in the image and likeness of God and we are very good (Genesis 1:31). Enjoy reading about the goodness of ILAC in 2010 and remember to “Show Your Goodness”* to all your neighbors!

Fr. Bill Johnson, S.J. *Go to for more information



Pág.6 Summer Program

Pre-School Las Lajas

Creighton and Grupo Blue Pág.8 Winning the battle against DIABETES Pág.9 Benefactors Pág.10 A Happy Life of Service Pág.12 Expand recovery room / Water purifiers Pág.13 Traces of Hope at Batey II Pág.18

El Catey Aqueduct

Pág.16 Dominican encounter


Progressing in Organic Production

A medical philanthropist of the Mission


is medical practice honors the ethics, responsibility and conscience of the Hipocratic Oath, inspired by the Greek physician Hipocrates. He was born in Santiago to Louis Morel-Surban, a French immigrant after WWII, and to Yolanda Grullon who came from a family of Santiago artists. He is Marcel Morel, physician, volunteer at ILAC Mission and a lover of the constantly changing lens focused on high quality education at all levels. The human and professional qualities that beat in the heart of Marcel are evident in his care for his patients. Both his home and his workplace reflect his love of order and tidiness that permeate the skills and services he offers his patients. Common sense and dedication flourish in Marcel in equal portions. Mario Davalos, chairman of the board of directors of ILAC, defines him as an energetic man who always says what he thinks. “He built a first-class radiology clinic with state-of-the-art equipment and excellent service. Working with Marcel at ILAC has always been a privilege. His contributions to our Medical Committee are invaluable.”

Marcel dedicates much of his time to the ILAC Mission, a work created by the Jesuits that teaches health and education in spiritual and economic harmony to hundreds of rural communities in the Cibao Valley through empowering local community leaders to manage the integral health of their people. With great love for the light and color of his country, the joy and goodness of his people and, above all, “their tremendous capacity to adapt to adversities with grace and rhythm,” Marcel declares: “To live in this crucible of races and cultures makes me feel like a citizen of the world.” He began working with ILAC in 1996 at the invitation of Alvaro Quesada, then board chairman, and Fr. Ernesto Travieso, S.J., founder of ILAC. Marcel began as a member of the medical committee, a job he continues to carry out exceptionally well.

“For the greater glory of God and with the inspiration of the Ignatian spirit, we contribute to humanity so that the poor live, giving the best in service, sharing together a spiritual, personal growth and challenging the diverse dimensions of poverty of the rural people, of the most marginalized people. ILAC/CESI gives us a greater opportunity to give and share the joy of seeing hope reborn, of re-establishing physical and spiritual well-being and laying the foundations for a sustainable future.”. Dr. Marcel Morel.


Creighton University Medical

Summer Program


ike the summer sun that cuts through the morning fog in rural Dominican communities, the spirit of service penetrates the heart of each member of the Creighton University Summer Health Program. The health science students, the professionals who supervise their clinical work and the undergraduates who assist the teams have all come to the Dominican Republic to learn how to treat patients more humanly. Through their efforts they touch people’s lives and gain a new perspective on health careers. The Summer Program, coordinated by Holly Fuller, Director of ILAC at Creighton University, has three fundamental goals: to connect participants with people of another culture, language and social situation; to learn to appreciate people of limited economic resources; and to develop the one’s spirituality. In 2010, the six rural communities selected In 2010, the six rural communities served by ILAC health teams were El Plan, en Dajabón; El Pescozón, en Cotuí; La Penita y La Guama, en Tenares; Las Carreras, en San José de las Matas; y Los Pilones, en Jánico. In Los Pilones, the students improvised a clinic in the local school to attend to their medical and dental patients, provide medicines in their pharmacy and gave talks on preventive health measures to people of the area. They saw an average of twenty patients each day.

Campesinos who live away from access to conventional health services are grateful because the ILAC health teams can take care of most of their medical and dental needs. For the dentists this includes extracting, filling and cleaning teeth. The summer program was made up of 72 students, 6 coordinators, and 30 professionals. Participants lived with families in the campos and took with them memories of the love of their host families, people full of faith and hope and joy. A strong relationship based on trust and conviviality makes the experience rich for the Americans and Dominicans alike. By the end of the time together the Dominicans don’t want the Americans to leave and the Americans want to stay. The Summer Program uses the health care skills of its participants and the support of Creighton University as instruments toward achieving the program’s real goal – an experience of greater understanding, mutual compassion and shared humanity. Anne Grass, group coordinator for the team at Los Pilones, has worked with ILAC for four years and says she would like to convey her experiences to people in the United States. She has found

the Dominican campesinos to be gracious and fun-loving people, like her local health coordinator, José Francisco Peña. Grass says that ILAC participants could stay in the U.S. and work but choose to be in the D.R. treating patients with love and patience. They don’t do a great amount of things but the campesinos open their arms in welcome and blessings because they know the participants come wanting to experience the realities of life in the Dominican countryside. Briana Koch had such a phenomenal experience that she has trouble describing her feelings about living with

her family in the campo. “I felt sad that they have so little materially and I have so much. But they have more of something than I have, and that is love. We all felt loved by our families, even if we spent only a month living with them.” Los Pilones is a rural community that belongs to the local community of El Caimito, Jánico. It is located far from the metropolitan area but is in the province of Santiago. The visitor is in for an hour long bus ride over an unpaved road that becomes narrower and narrower the closer it get to Los Pilones, a town of twelve hundred people.



verflowing with enthusiasm and joy, the academic year began at the pre-school for the communities of Las Lajas and Comedero. In a lovely ceremony prepared by the teachers and community leaders, the teaching and learning process was formally inaugurated in the presence of parents, their young sons and daughters and a host of dignitaries. Fr. Bill Johnson, S.J. and Radalme Pena represented ILAC in the festivities by offering an opening prayer and encouraging words, respectively. Radalme invited the parents to get intimately involved in their children’s education in order to help form the future of their country and our world. Over 400 children will benefit from ILAC’s preschools that are located in the communities of Las Lajas, Comedero, Limonal and Batey II. Yajaira Vásquez, coordinator of the Education Programs at ILAC, thanked the teachers and parents and all those who came to make the day so special.




he Dominican Republic is eminently agricultural, rich in production, with men and women willing to work from sun-up to sun-down to make the earth bear fruit. As time goes on, new techniques come on the scene that enable their labors to yield more and better crops. El Instituto de Desarrollo de la EconomĂ­a Asociativia (IDEAC) and ILAC have signed an agreement with the objective of developing local markets for organic products through a production chain from greenhouses

and other systems to the consumer. These new strategies take place in controlled environments that guarantee harvests of high quality. The agreement between IDEAC and ILAC assures that the products will be placed in major retail establishments in the Dominican Republic. The producers who are to benefit from this alliance are members of the agricultural associations of Villa Trina, Arroyo del Toro, Tamboril y San JosĂŠ de las Matas.


Creighton and Group Blue Building to Educate Cuba were able to transform local student life by constructing bathrooms, a kitchen, a basketball court and putting doors and windows in the school building.


armony, effort and humility are the foundation of priceless projects. From Miami, the Group Blue (from the Spanish acronym for “Building Love, all United”) brought hope and improvements to the community of La Penda by collaborating with local efforts to finish the school building. A decade after beginning the construction of the small school its four classrooms can now accommodate the great expectations of motivated students seeking their right to a decent education. This is the first project of Group Blue which was created by Daniel and Nicole Rodríguez, whose father, Jorge, is the co-founder of Miami’s LIFO Group that has built aqueducts in Dominican campos for over twenty-five years. With the help of ILAC and its local cooperator, Marina López, the Group Blue young people from Spain, Columbia, Argentina and


I have grandchildren that now will be able to study thanks to their external support. We value these guys very much because they come here to work for us. Félix Burgos.

Daniel formed Group Blue in order to offer something more than what he had done in the past when he accompanied his father in LIFO projects. “What motivates us is to work in partnership with the campesinos and to experience how they do so much with far less than what we have. It helps a lot when you have happy people working at your side, especially when you’re building something as worthwhile as a school,” says Daniel. Javier Hermida joined Group Blue to help finish the school but believes he learned more from the campesinos. “People of this community have given me more than I have given them. They even taught us how to use a shovel. This work needed to be done. It’s very sad not to have a school.” For Ortenia Lara López, finishing the construction of the school has filled her with as much happiness as if it were her own home because the kids used to study in precarious conditions with palm tree chairs and a dirt floor. “I have grandchildren who now will be able to study in this school thanks to Group Blue.

Winning the battle against DIABETES


erafina Marte was suffering from constant dizziness without knowing she was a diabetic. José Almánzar, knowing he was a diabetic, didn’t pay attention to his disease and, lacking the strength to work, had to retire. Today their stories and those of 94 other people who also have or are at risk of having diabetes have changed thanks to a project undertaken by ILAC in Comedero Abajo, in the province of Sánchez Ramírez, and backed financially by contributions from the Chicago Cubs organization and the leadership of Dr. Charles Filipi and his daughter-in-law, Linda Filipi, a nurse specializing in diabetes. The project is based in preventive measures through the collection of data and the identification of diabetics and pre-diabetics. After that, there is follow-up with each patient that can include medicine, education and exercise. Dominican doctor Bienvenido Veras ensures that the project “creates a social consciousness to fight an illness that is so silent, chronic and deadly.” The plan against diabetes is part of the sanitary assistance focused on a community of limited resources that seeks a better quality of life for its patients. En Comedero Abajo, about 9% of the inhabitants are candidates for diabetes and few have the means to afford treatment. Serafina confesses, “I don’t work and neither does my husband. If ILAC’s project didn’t exist, I couldn’t afford the medicine.” In addition to those with diabetes, patients with hypertension also receive care. José

Almánzar, one of these that, “Diabetes is not controlled so that one normal life.”

patients, states cured but can live a

Donation from the Manuel Arsenio Ureña (MAU) Foundation for the Dining Hall Roof and Basketball Court Reconstructions

Thanks to the generosity of the Manuel Arsenio and Camelia Ureña Foundation that has supported ILAC projects in rural communities, a gracious donation was given to remodel the dining hall roof and repair the basketball court at the ILAC Center. The gift was received by Fr. Bill Johnson, S.J. and Radalme Peña

Divine Child Foundation Donates School Supplies for Children The archbishop’s Divine Child Foundation of Santiago de los Caballeros, led by its president, Fr. Eduardo Nuñez, gave an important donation of school supplies to the ILAC Mission’s rural education centers. This donation helps alleviate economic hardships for the families of children who receive these gifts.


Lifo Group Donates Uniforms to Children from La Penda Alberto Pérez, coordinator from the Lifo group, made possible a donation of school shoes and uniforms to children from lowincome families in La Penda, Tenares.

La Fundacion Educa Donates Classroom Furniture to Pre-Schools and Tutoring Centers La Fundacion Educa has been supporting the ILAC Mission’s rural school programs for many years. At the beginning of this past school year, the foundation gave a significant donation of classroom tables and chairs for the pre-schools of Ceboruco, Lajas and Comedero. This collaboration allows children to attend class in a comfortable and dignified space, which will contribute to a better teaching and learning process in

CHICAGO CUBS, Beyond Baseball


he Dominican diet tastes good but it’s undeniable that in the majority of dishes too much salt, oil and sugar is used. In time, these ingredients cause diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Currently, the adult mortality rate due to these diseases is 4.2% in the Dominican Republic. In the face of this reality, the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team, Major League Baseball, USAID, Misión ILAC and Creighton University have joined forces to fight against these ailments. T



the which needs of in the

donation of 1.8 million pesos (approximately $50,000) by Chicago Cubs will help ILAC, has served the health care some 130 rural communities Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic for over 35 years, to establish a

program for the prevention and the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. The program will function through Dominican health promoters who ILAC has trained in each of the rural communities and will use ILAC rural clinics as the headquarters. This diabetes and hypertension project promotes long-term sustainable change for the residents of the benefiting communities. The local health promoters are provided with materials that guide them in the process of creating a change in the diet and health habits of their patients and leading them to a better quality of life. In addition, the patients receive the necessary medication and follow-up to treat their diseases.



A Happy Life of Service

dita Villa greets everyone who visits her with a smile that makes them feel comfortable. She is known in all the communities around Blanco Arriba, in Salcedo, as one who serves. It is as if she were a family member in all the nearby towns where she enjoys the friendship, respect and, above all, the love that people have for her. In spite of the fourteen years she has been an ILAC health promoter, Edita still remembers well the first lesson she learned in her role: how to care for one’s personal and family hygiene, which she shares with her fellow members of the Mothers’ Club of her community. “ILAC has changed my life. Before, I was very shy and believed my purpose was to keep house,” she says with a laugh, “but now I have new horizons.” She knows that every day is different and people are waiting for her help and support. As a health promoter, Edita feels valued by her community. Having cultivated the gift of service, it has rewarded her with the respect and affection of her community members. Both children and adults see her as trustworthy and look to her for orientation. She is a happy mother of four and also runs her own business. Edita becomes a magician to divide her time and accomplish all she undertakes. “I believe my great desire to collaborate gives me power in everything,” she says assuredly as light shines from her lips. The health She is also a woman of the Church. God is the motor that pulses through her and she does everything she can to be


of assistance in her parish. She states that in ILAC you don’t only learn to fight against diseases, you also learn to prevent them.

Edita Villa, a role model worth following, welcomes each new day according to her admirable philosophy of life. “I never say that I am not doing well and that gives confidence to others. My secret is to stay happy in Christ. I want to live like that always, being a happy woman of faith a n d service.”

“I believe my great desire to collaborate gives me power in everything”

Loyola University and The Chicago Cubs Join Hands to



n each of the last seven years ILAC has done hundreds of out-patient surgeries on people of low income who reside in the rural communities of the Dominican Republic. These surgical interventions complement the integral health program run by ILAC and its health promoters in over 130 rural communities. They are scheduled according to surgical specialists who come from the United States for periods of four to ten days each year. The number of surgeries done each year had grown to the extent that the post-surgical recovery area was too small to meet the needs. Thanks to the initiative of Dr. Andrew J. Hotaling, an alliance was formed between Loyola University, Chicago, and the Chicago Cubs, who, along with Dr. Charles Filipi, provided the funding to expand the recovery room from six to sixteen beds.

ILAC Water Filters: Effective Health Allies


ater is one of the main components of the human body. Health professionals tell us repeatedly of its importance and we would all do well to respect and care for this life-sustaining resource. Unfortunately, water is easily contaminated by bacteria and other pollutants. ILAC has distinguished itself in its development of preventive health measures. In collaboration with Creighton University and Professor, Dr. Gary Michels of its Chemistry Department, water filters made with two five-gallon buckets and a carbon stone filter are in use in hundreds of homes in the Dominican countryside.

diseases, especially among infants and children, and improves the health of entire communities. The filters eliminate bacteria such as salmonella, Escherichia coli, shigella, kelbesiella, giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium. St. Louis University has also helped fund this water filter program.

Filtered water for drinking, cooking and hygiene prevents 13

Aqueduct for

El Catey built by LIFO group of Miami


ituated near the sea where a wind blows so strong that you lose your hat, El Catey, in the Gaspar Hernández province, has a new reason to be proud: an aqueduct has been built, a small project with a huge impact, thanks to the efforts of the youth of Grupo LIFO of Miami. Alberto Pérez, co-founder of Grupo LIFO that for years has been committed to improving the life of communities in the Dominican countryside, believes that the benefit this aqueduct will bring is invaluable. The people in these communities have every desire to do such projects but lack the resources to build them. With the collaboration of ILAC, the teamwork of the local Dominicans, and the cooperation and generosity of Grupo LIFO, five rural communities will benefit from the aqueduct project. The local inhabitants have learned that success is achieved through community efforts that they themselves are capable of. Grupo LIFO has been working in the Cibao area for twenty-six years, building aqueducts and schools in campos (rural communities). Pérez tells how he began working in 1983 with the people of the campos. “The people of the campos give us such an open welcome, they are very hard working and they deserve the work we do here,” he says. The love and will the foreigners bring is limitless. They change people’s lives according to Ramón Félix, a 64 year-old farmer, “We used to get up at dawn to carry water on a donkey or on our shoulders.” But now the water reaches right into our homes. The 36 members of this years’ immersion team, some still in high school, were volunteers and few had much experience with construction tools which only heightened the adventure and commitment they experienced in an unknown land.


The LIFO Group has helped improve the living conditions of small towns in the interior of the country that results in better health, education and prospects for the future. The source of water for the aqueduct is located 7 kilometers from the storage tank in the community of Jagua Clara, where the LIFO Group had already constructed another aqueduct. The storage tank has a capacity of 19,200 gallons. The tubing for the system extends over 14 kilometers and distributes water to 700 families in the 5 communities of El Catey, El Mango,

Bohuco, Blanco Abajo and Bohuco Arriba. For Victoria Nieman-Vigo, a 17 year old girl with Dominican roots, working on the aqueduct was a very good experience because she collaborated to improve the lives of the people in the area. “When we first opened the faucets it was tremendous to see the people filling bottles and joyfully throwing water in all directions, so happy because it was the first time they had this resource so close to home,� she said through a wide smile.


One Project, S

itting together during their lunch break, students from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, thank God for the food they’re about to share. Here in the Dominican countryside communication with the local inhabitants can be a challenge but that limitation is far outweighed by their desire to collaborate with the people to improve their living conditions that

biggest surprises the students experience is seeing how the Dominican people who have so little give them so much, according to Karie Karisak, a Creighton employee who helps coordinate the program. The families that adopt the students treat them as their sons and daughters and shower them with food, clothing and the cultural riches of the region.

are so dramatically different from their own in the United States. This group of thirteen young men and women are sponsored by the university’s “Ecuentro Dominicano” program that has its home at the ILAC Mission in Santiago. They have become a team to help the local people build a gravity-based aqueduct system that will supply water to more than 200 people.

More than merely a construction project, the students built warm relationships with their host

In Gajo de la Yuca, a rural community a good distance from San Francisco de Marcorís, the students, who arrived hardly knowing one another, have shared far more than food from a common table. They have become bonded in hands and hearts, waiting for the warmth of each new sunrise to help bring to life the dream of their host families: an aqueduct that will bring liquid life to all. The students are ready early and quickly form a human chain passing buckets of cement toward the worksite. They wield shovels and pick-axes so they can laugh joyfully when they accomplish their goal. One of the 16

A team’s yearning

families and all the community. They drank coffee with their new families, played with their adoptive little brothers and sisters, and learned to dance merengue and bachata. They became part of the community where the colors of nature shone brilliantly and the birds strove to delight the visitors with their winged songs. In Gajo de la Yuca, the students even prepared parties and worship services.

One of the students, Audrey Jensen, misses her family but knows her parents back home support her decision to come and live this experience in the Dominican Republic. Kellie Webber, another student, confesses that her most difficult moments were when she couldn’t communicate with the Dominican people and when there weren’t enough tools for everyone and she had to take turns with the picks and shovels. In the end, she says, you learn to share a lot and you learn a lot. Kellie learned to play dominoes and Rachel Barnett learned to ride a mule in the woods. Most of the other students learned to ride a horse.


Traces of

HopE at Batey II A

new light has been lit and new doors opened to those who believed that closed doors left them in the dark. Joy beats in the hearts of the mostly Haitian community members of the Batey II. The ILAC Mission has wiped away racial differences and given new opportunities to the people. Understanding that community development is carried out through forming leaders, ILAC has created a Health Cooperator Program that promotes health and integral education for both the Haitians and the Dominicans who live in Batey II.

With the support of St. Ignatius High School of Cleveland, Ohio, a school was built in which over 150 children are finally guaranteed their right to become educated. They also receive nutritious food. In addition, thanks to the support of the Creighton University student group called “Legacy of Compassion,� an aqueduct was extended so that now more than 200 families will have running water in their homes for the first time. Batey II still lacks many necessities, but these small advances that came to be through the generosity and sweat of volunteers will have a significant impact on the quality of life of the people living there. 18

Carretera Duarte Km. 71/2, Licey al Medio Tel.: 809.736.0095 Fax: 809.736.0760 Apartado 1072, Santiago, Rep

Huellas de Mision Ilac - Oct. 2010 - English  

October 2010 Robert Della Rocca Carmen G. Ureña Marcel Morel Mercedes C. Capellán Ricardo E. Brugal Alfredo Estrada Irma Frank Andy Alexande...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you