In 1994, the founders’ 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with Graves Disease and put on a therapy of polythiouracil (PTU). She became the sixth documented case of PTU attacking the liver and the first to survive. She received a liver transplant at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.
With that, Rita had received every mother’s wish…a healthy child. A Mother’s Wish Foundation was born to provide this wish to other mothers who had little hope of receiving it.
On October 18, 2003, the founders arrived in the Dominican Republic and spent the next six months getting their personal and clinic items through Customs. After that:
- April 1, 2004: Secured rental facility in El Llano, R.D., and began construction of the permanent facility in Los Pajones, R.D.
- April 22-28, 2004: Administered a government vaccination campaign to all children under 5 years old for measles, mumps, rubella and polio. We were given 30 doses, based on previous campaigns in our area. We vaccinated 558 children by the end of the campaign. Regular vaccinations continue weekly at the Clinic.
- May 3, 2004: Began providing free medical consultations and free medicines from our rental facility with Doctora Venecia Quinones.
- June 17, 2004: Met with the residents of our community at the local church to discuss the implementation of trash pick up. The residents agreed to pay 10 pesos per household per month.
- June 24, 2004: Trash pick up begins and continues today.
- August 13, 2004: Inaugurated the permanent facility three days before the government changed and the Regional Director of Public Health lost his job. One thousand women and children were provided with food, drink, cake and entertainment.
- September 13, 2004: Began providing free medical consultations and free medicines from our permanent facility. Hired a nurse from Santiago, a receptionist from El Llano and a Health Promoter from each of the five communities.
- November – December, 2004: Completed a census of the five communities and computerized the information.
- April-October 2005: Instituted community educational talks including, Nutrition, Osteoporosis, Parasites and Nutrition for Pregnant Women. The Parasite talks became semi-annual with every member of the community receiving a prophylactic dose of anti-parasite medicine.
- November 30, 2005: Instituted Pap Smear Day at the Clinic. Samples are tested by a reputable laboratory in Santiago and women with irregular results are referred to a specialist who provides his services to our community for free. This has become a semi-annual event at the Clinic.
- January 2006: Hosted a 3-day seminar for the Young Women of the Community and spawned the Young Women’s Club, LOGXCEST – Logros Grandes por Caminos Estrechos (Large successes through narrow roads). We wanted to provide an alternative vision for their future from their current expectation, which was to have a baby and live in their town. Thus far, none of the regular members of LOGXCEST have been “married” or become pregnant. This is an outstanding accomplishment in a culture where most women have their first child in their teen years.
- March 2006: Instituted “home visits” for new mothers which includes a package of supplies and medicines that every new baby needs. Most of our new mothers are teen-agers who know nothing about the care of a newborn. Generally, the moms live with their “husband’s” family and many times the “mother-in-law” refuses to help their new “daughter-in-law”. We try to fill that gap for the sake and safety of the newborn.
- January 2006: Dental Clinics were instituted by Susan Cote through the University of Southern Maine Nursing School program. Regular Clinics were held every six months until July, 2007.
- August 2006: Received recognition by the Dominican Government that A Mother’s Wish is a non-government, non-profit organization incorporated outside of the Dominican Republic. This ended a process begun over two years earlier.
- September 2006: Instituted the “School Nurse” program that lends the services of our nurse to the local primary school every Thursday for minor consultations, referrals and educational talks to the students. Our nurse, Rosemary, has enlisted the support of the children to visit each house in the community to contain the outbreak of Dengue Fever in the community.
- November 2006: The Young Women’s Club hosts the Cinderella Project during which the Club members invited girls aged 8 – 13 to come to Clinic, watch “Cinderella” while their hair and make-up was applied and then had “Glamour Shot” type photos taken in front of the Christmas Tree. This provided the girls of our community with a new vision of who they were and what they could become – with the help of others.
- November 2006: The Clinic instituted a monthly newsletter to the community, Buenas Noticias, to advise of upcoming programs and health/safety tips.
- December 2006: The LOGXCEST Club members were treated to a visit to the Centro Leon Museum.
- April 2007: “Women’s Month” at the Clinic included educational discussions with every demographic of women in our community. LOGXCEST provided free child-care during the talks.
- April-May 2007: In conjunction with La Leche League, the Clinic sponsored a 16 hour training program and graduated 7 lactation counselors to meet with the community and promote breast feeding infant children.
- May-June 2007: Instituted a Health Committee and hired and trained three Health Counselors who visit every house four times per year. The Counselors check vaccination cards, general health including fevers and diarrhea, and check for breeding grounds for Dengue mosquitoes.
- May-June 2007: A series of educational talks with the men of the community culminated with the community instituting a Water Committee that is supported and run by the elected members of the communities.
- June-July 2007: Began construction of “smokeless” wood burning stoves to replace the open wood burning stoves that are causing severe respiratory problems for the residents of the communities.
- June-July 2007: Completed an analysis of the water from six points in multiple aqueduct systems and three rivers used for washing clothes, bathing and drinking. Confirmed by two sources, all the water is unfit for human consumption and the river water contains levels of bacteria and parasites that inhibit proper bathing hygiene.
- August 2007: Dr. Jomy Abreau provides weekly dental care for the children of our communities using the Clinic’s permanent dental chair and equipment.
- December 2007: 5,176 free medical consultations & medicines provided in 2007.
- January 2008: The first of three volunteer groups from the Brown Sustainable
Community Development Project headed by previous volunteers Ed Cheung and John Molina.
- May 2008: Dental services ended as volunteer Jomy Abreau gained employment
- December 2008: 5,279 free medical consultations & medicines provided in 2008.
- January-May 2009: Volunteer engineers from the University of Southern Maine assess the aqueduct in La Tinajita, develop solutions and implement those solutions.
- November 2009: Construction begins on Academia Lynn Barta, a preschool for 3 and 4 year old children.
- December 2009: The Health Counselor program is closed.
- December 2009: 6,127 free medical consultations & medicines provided in 2009.
- January 2010: Academy Lynn Barta is inaugurated and opened.
- January 2010: A nurse led community outreach program to monitor development of children through 5 years old using Bright Futures (www.brightfutures.org) as a guide was initiated.
- December 2010: 4,716 free medical consultations & medicines provided in 2010.
- May 2011: Engineers Without Borders improved the aqueduct in La Tinajita.
- June 2011: HIV/AIDS campaign “If You Love Me… initiated. The project continued through 2012 as a part of the President’s Emergency Program For Aids Relief (PEPFAR)
- July 2011: The full service primary care health clinic is closed. 2,940 free medical consultations & medicines were provided from January through July 2010. Clinic continues to be used as a community center for education and youth programs
- February 2012: Sub-contracted with USAID to execute an Aids Prevention and Awareness program through PEPFAR engaging the young men & women of the community.
- December 2012: Medical services are ended as the community outreach program grant funding’s scheduled completion. Our nurse continues a Lactation and Pregnant Mom group on a volunteer basis that currently meets once a month.
- May 2013: Volunteers through Nourish International hold workshops on MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel and provide seed money and expertise to start a bakery business for the community youth.
- June 2014: Community center is used for new “half-day gap” youth program that provides elementary students a place to learn from 8:30am-12pm daily. This is critical because all elementary and middle school students in our communities only attend the public schools from 2-4:30pm daily.
- January 2016: A Mother’s wish begins to search for sustainable, non-grant based funding needed to re-instate medical services provided through community outreach program (based on Bright Futures model www.brightfutures.org).
To raise a generation of healthy children, a clinic is required to resolve simple disease states before they become life-threatening situations. This task we now entrust to the country’s Ministry of Health. It also requires an environment for children conducive to healthy growth and development. This includes potable water to drink, bathe and wash, clean air to breathe, a safe area to play and the educational skills to succeed. To accomplish this, we need the continual support and involvement of the residents of the community, volunteers, donors, government and non-governmental agencies interested in the same goal.
From our observations, adults in our community have grown up under a dictatorship that was replaced by a party politics system in which the Party in power provides good things to their people. Poverty is rampant and there is little sense of community – “only what I can get for myself”. Laws are not enforced and corruption is a cultural component. Our Foundation continues to promote community involvement and highlight community successes to increase pride and instill a sense of self-destiny. Our programs focus on the basics of human existence; healthcare, trash collection, environmental health, and community safety. Our educational workshops, school and clinic operations have shown no favoritism and we offer our services to all members of the community regardless of their financial status. We need your help and financial support in order to continue.