As you may know here at Wander we work with a wonderful charity, Vitamin Angels, who work hard on a daily basis to distribute vitamins across the world to children under 5 in need to prevent malnutrition. Their vitamins help reduce easily preventable illnesses, blindness and in severe cases even death.
Our founder, Clementina Oliveras, travelled to the Dominican Republic along with Vitamin Angels to see first hand how vitamins were distributed to the local children in the community. Here she talks us through her daily activities and how they were able to help.
I arrived to a very welcoming team at the headquarters in Barahona, Dominican Republic to meet and greet with the Vitamin Angels team who were being hosted by Children of the Nations their local partner in the job of delivering vitamins to the kids in the community. They served as a very helpful host for the duration of my trip. It was a great chance for me to learn more about how the process works and how Vitamin Angels gets the vitamins where they are needed the most.
The Vitamin Angels team is in charge of supplying vitamins which are then distributed by charities worldwide who work on site with the communities, their children and local health providers. In this instance, for my trip the charity in charge of delivering the vitamins to the kids was Children of the Nations.
The work they are doing in the local community is incredible. They currently support 3 schools in 3 different communities, run their own health clinic and have an ongoing ‘I love baseball’ development programme for children.
During my trip I got to visit 4 different communities in the area of Barahona; Algodon, Los Robles, Don Bosco and Altagracia. We first started with the community of Algodon.
The first day
For each community we had the chance to interview families that live in the area, which was an incredible experience for me. For the most part the communities, living in settlements called ‘Bates’, are integrated from extended families from those who work or have previously worked in sugar cane plantation and farming. They were set on irregular settlements with housing built from leftover material being wood, tin and similar materials.
These interviews turned out to be such a powerful way for me to get to know the locals better. It gave me a real insight into their lives and a chance to experience for myself how they live. We spoke about their diet, which mainly consisted of beans, rice and plantain. It was great to hear that the vitamins provided have helped the children stay stronger. We also spoke about their general health and sources of income.
One family we visited was a single mother with 3 children. She has been raising her kids and is fortunate to earn a living by looking after her niece while her sister goes to work in the city. Some of the families we visited exuded hope which was very encouraging to see while others, due to their circumstances, seemed to face far greater challenges.
It was lovely to see the children playing ball in the street and were told how much they enjoy to go swimming in the river for fun.
The second day
On my second day we visited the community of Los Robles where mothers were bringing their children in to receive vitamin A and deworming treatments at the local school. It was great to see so many young children and mothers understand the benefits vitamins & deworming treatments can have on their health and how they come to benefit from this service. We got the chance to hang out and play with some of the children. They were so energetic and loved playing with us. It was such a lovely experience to see their happy smiling faces.
The third day
On the third day we started with a walk through the streets of Don Bosco. It was a great chance to experience what a regular weekday was like for the locals. We then visited the local school in the community where I got to spend some quality time meeting and playing games with some of the children. We interviewed the principle of the school to get an understanding of the struggles they face. It was heartbreaking to hear about how many young girls were married off at such a young age due to poverty. Girls not Brides is a fantastic charity trying to end child marriage. The principal told us in this school they faced overcrowding and need more classrooms to cater for all of the children.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and I loved seeing the positive influence the school plays in the lives of the children.
After lunch we got to walk through the community of Altagracia, where I got to hang out with some more of the local children. After the visit to the community of Altagracia we got to visit where the ‘I love baseball’ program takes place, a project where the children can pursue their dream of playing baseball whilst still gaining an education. The children loved it and it was so nice to see them absorbed in something that brings them such joy.
‘There is no greater joy in life than to help others.’
I loved my time in Barahona. It’s one thing to talk with the charity and learn about the positive effects their vitamins and treatments do but it is such a powerful experience to see it for myself first hand.
It has truly been a life changing journey, an adventure I cannot truly put into words. It has to be lived! I am blessed that at Wander we get to help out with such inspiring causes and help make a difference to the lives of these children. I hope to continue working with them and cannot wait for my next trip with them.