SPRINGDALE, NL — With education efforts continually ongoing in the Dominican Republic, the United for Kids Foundation also helps families get healthy.
The organization started by Springdale’s Sherry and Roy Clarke – which helps the poverty-stricken part of the country through efforts of people in the Springdale area – recently conducted a parasite and dental clinic.
Sherry Clarke, who was joined in the Dominican Republic by her sister in-law Kay Clarke and friend Judy Hamilton, said results of the parasite clinic was a startling discovery that reflects the quality of life there and showcases the importance of humanitarian efforts.
Of the 36 families tested in the parasite clinic – which included somewhere between 100 and 120 people – only four people tested negative for a parasite.
Patients were then treated and educated on the importance of sanitary water and other health initiatives.
“Most of it comes from the unclean water — showering, brushing their teeth, drinking water, and cooking,” Clarke said. “This particular neighbourhood does not use purified water.
“With the parasites, a lot of them have trouble gaining weight. It stunts their growth to some degree, because they don’t get the proper nutrition from the food they do get. Once you eliminate the parasite, they have a chance to catch up.”
Again through the efforts of the United for Kids Foundation, many Dominican people availed of dental work they would normally not be able to afford. The clinic also included an educational component to teach the importance of dental care.
“We do a breakfast program anyway, but we have implemented that they brush their teeth at the school,” she said. “We know then that at least once a day they are brushing their teeth.”
Clarke has spent a lot of time during this month’s visit preparing for a special project planned for a February trip to the country. With the help of a team from western Newfoundland, the United for Kids Foundation will help build a home for a family of one of the program’s sponsored children.
It will be the first build of its kind for the organization, and Clarke said it will be a special moment.
“This is a new venture for us,” she said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking for me right now … It’ll be a big project for us, and for a family that likely would never afford to have a home to this degree.”
Hamilton visited the Dominican Republic for the third time. She continues to be saddened by conditions in the country, yet inspired by the work they do and the people she meets there.
“You realize how lucky you are and appreciate everything you have,” Hamilton said. “People have to see it for themselves to realize it. It’s a different world.”
The organization is accepting donations for its annual Christmas hamper drive. This year, an arrangement has been made to purchase food items from a grocery store in the Dominican Republic. Clarke expects this method will make things easier than buying food here and bringing it to the country.
Clarke, as always, is grateful to the local community, friends and family for supporting the organization and its efforts.