Each time I sit to write a blog post I am in disbelief at how fast my time in the Dominican Republic is flying. It has been amazing to see how my relationship with the staff and community at Clínica de Familia continues to transform and grow. In my last post I mentioned that I was helping with our HIV pediatric nutrition program. My role within the nutrition program has developed and I am now helping to organize the program and update our monitoring techniques. It has been wonderful to use some of the skills I learned in my camp evaluation project and implement them with the nutrition team. I have also very much enjoyed the opportunity to work with different parts of the clinic and see a well-rounded picture of our pediatric care.
In these past few months I have learned that flexibility in programing is key. Often times what you envision does not turn out as planned. For example, we had envisioned a monthly HIV nutrition support group and I was beginning to help lay the foundation for this support group. However, instead of these monthly support groups what has developed are “fiestas de nutrición.” These “fiestas” serve as a support group and occur three times per year. The fiestas are an opportunity to celebrate the children who will be graduating from the program and include educational talks, nutrition packet distribution, support group time, as well as question and answer time with the pediatricians. We realized that a monthly support group would be too difficult for the families as some of the parents are involved in other groups at the clinic.
Additionally, having the children miss a morning of school once a month on top of their monthly consults is too much time. We actually had our first nutrition fiesta back in January and it was a success! The families really enjoyed having a space to meet and talk to one another. They were also very interested in our continuing education information. We are now preparing for our next fiesta on May 5th! The topic of this fiesta will be the importance of vegetables and how to make vegetables more attractive to your child. We will also discuss the importance of a good nutrition in order to take your medicines/ARV treatment.
I also continue to work with the Camp Esperanza y Alegría team. Last week I met with them to discuss camper testimonials that came from my evaluation project as well as plan for upcoming focus groups with the campers’ parents. It has been wonderful to be here and to continue to work with the camp on how to make the products of my evaluation sustainable, relevant, and useful.
I look forward to enjoying these last few months with my Dominican families continuing to learn new traditions and make new memories. Stay tuned to hear more about how my time here has wrapped up and all the lessons I have learned!