Project History

In 2009, Dr. Sarah Korth began realizing a dream of living and working with rural extremely under-served Dominican communities, taking 6 months off of school as a senior medical student to live amongst and get to know the Dominican people. She and fellow medical student, Paul De Marco, worked in an under-served Dominican Emergency Room and joined multiple medical mission groups that served across the country, including Project Ear, Solid Rock Missions, and Smile Train, working with and learning from many wonderful people who helped pave the path to the current mission. After being introduced to an American missionary priest who had served rural Dominican Republic for over 20 years, as well as to many locals who best know the land and the greatest needs, attention was directed to a small town called Paraiso. True to its name, it is a tropical oceanside paradise framed by mountains in southwestern Dominican Republic. However, in stark contrast to the natural beauty of the land is the overwhelming poverty that saturates it. The mountainsides in the region are filled with Haitian immigrants who have very little to no access to healthcare. It was at this time she met Father Stephane Jean, local priest, who she would partner with towards a goal of sustainable changes.

October, 2012:

  • Returned to Paraiso to work with Father Stephane, as well as optometrist, Dr. Colon and wife Patt on a vision campaign
  • Introduced to more mountain communities surrounding Paraiso, further exposing the unmet needs

February, 2013:

  • In depth daily meetings with Father Stephane Jean to plot out structure for sustainable changes in 32 communities in the mountains surrounding Paraiso, DR, including:
    • How best to involve the people of the communities and allow locals to become invested and take initiative for changes
    • Need for local point-people/health representatives and need for their ongoing training
  • Needs assessment surveys developed to determine the people’s perspectives of their needs, which addressed the following categories:
    • sanitation (latrines/toilets, insect control, garbage, etc)
    • medical care
    • reproductive health, family planning, birthing
    • nutrition/agriculture
    • education

March, 2013 to October, 2013:

  • 12 local volunteers who are respected by their communities and known to the missionary priests of Paraiso were asked to act as local health promoters
  • 32 communities were divided by geographic location based on health promoter’s home village
  • Each Representative was assigned 2-4 villages
  • Needs assessment surveys were given to each representative to gather an accurate census and to determine the people’s perspectives of their needs as above
  • Arm bands given to each representative to measure mid-arm circumference on each child 6 and under in every community to assess nutritional status of each community
  • Enough Mebendazole (de-worming medication) was able to be brought or purchased to “de-worm” every child aged 12 and under (needs are every 6 months)

October, 2013:

  • Returned to Paraiso with global health graduate student, Cary Hilbert
  • Meetings held with health representatives to review census forms and community needs assessment surveys
    • Individual leaders’ experiences and communities’ discussions of needs were evaluated
  • Based on results of surveys, top needs found to be nutrition and clean water/access to water year-round
  • Children <=5yo “de-wormed”

October, 2014 to November, 2014:

  • First (completed) mission trip and clinic for the Paraiso Project
  • Provided micronutrients, Moringa seeds, health screenings, and medical and dental care to 3,000+ people from 32 villages
  • See pictures from the trip

April, 2015 to May, 2015: