After breakfast, the team boarded our van and headed towards la Barquita. We were warmly greeted by Fr Emilio, his wife Maria and a group of parishioners who quickly helped us unload our supplies and carry them up the stairs to the clinic. The clinic is relatively easy to set up having run one last year, but as always the challenge is finding what you need in a stack of trunks. The pharmacy was set up on the lower level of the church building in a classroom towards the rear of the building.
Once we finished setting up, Maria took a number of us on a tour of the immediate neighborhood. While there are a number of new buildings going up and some houses appear recently painted, the area remains unpaved and quite poor. We stopped and spoke with a few residents and said hello to many walking by. The hospitality and gracious welcomes are amazing. This walk quickly spreads the news that we are at the church. After stopping for lunch, we prepared to see our first group of patients. The laid back style of the Dominican People means nothing really starts on time, so after a short time a number of people began arriving.
We have a larger number of translators with us this year which is great; it allows for more meaningful conversations with the local people. Rather than rushing people through, we have the ability to connect more with them and create deeper relationships. It has been great to have time in between groups of people to be able to converse with those helping us. Pam spent time today with young girls who were taking english lessons, asking them to translate into English some of the information we gather at registration.
To keep from being overwhelmed, we kept the number of people low. Tomorrow we plan to see double the number on our first full day. After a wonderful dinner we gathered as we will every night, to reflect on the experiences of the day, to offer thanks to God for the opportunity to meet and better know our brothers and sisters in the DR and to celebrate in song.