The Chirino Clinic Project Update
Jim and Christy BenedictTwo 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. 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 earlier this year, when José Lopez, informed us that the plantation had provided the funding to replace the roof. The Michigan Rotary District 6360 has donated money forward the construction. Once the building is ready, staffing will be provided by the Ministry of Health. José provided an excel file with a breakdown of the budget for this project. The original estimate to do the project was $24,158. However, they discovered that they need to completely revamp the electrical system and put in a new air conditioning system to make the building habitable. Some of the entries suggest that much of the work has to be done by certified techs as well. Here are the updated figures:
- The total estimated cost is now $42,508.
- The cost to do upgrades and repairs is $27,826.
- The cost for the needed equipment is $14,682.
- In kind donations that have been committed total $4500. This includes the dental chair and the donation listed for Pastoral Social Caritas for supplies leaving $10,182 more needed for equipment and supplies.
- The Lansing Rotary has committed to $4500 for the construction.
- Local in-country Rotary clubs, and other foundations have approved $750.50, $800, and $578 for a total of $2,128.50 toward the construction.
- That leaves $21,198 to finish the construction.