One of the reasons that FIMRC is so successful in its global impact and one of the reasons that a lot of people enjoy being involved with FIMRC is the emphasis on PARTICIPATION, the third pillar of FIMRC’s mission. The first two pillars of ACCESS and EDUCATION are so impactful because of this third pillar. Not only does participation speak to the variety of programs FIMRC offers to volunteers, it also speaks to the local community participation. Not only does community involvement make FIMRC effective, it also makes it more sustainable. In the Dominican Republic, the two local staff members, Dr. Ricardo and Tania, are crucial the efficacy and sustainability of the site!
Dr. Ricardo has been working with FIMRC since the beginning of Project Restauración. Born and raised in town, he left for medical school but returned not long after to serve the community that influenced his childhood. During the initial site survey, he was critical in helping FIMRC gain the information they needed. He gave the staff a tour of the hospital and involved them in various Ministry of Health campaigns early on. His passion for his community and community health were apparent from the start. In the words of Restauración’s first site manager, Joe South: “He has always impressed me with his seemingly nonchalant commitment to serving his community. He volunteered with us for a few months before we decided we wanted to make him a more permanent part of the team… Hiring Dr. Ricardo was a no-brainer. He is beloved by the community and has enabled us to expand our reach to areas I never would have imagined.”
Not long after Dr. Ricardo joined the team, Tania was brought on. Again, this was an easy decision for FIMRC. Searching the community for someone who was well respected and connected in the area, had a dynamic and outgoing personality, and had experience in the field of health education was tricky. There were a lot of good applicants who had one or two of the desired traits but no one fit the profile like Tania did! She had community experience working with World Vision and was very involved in the community through her church as well. Her commitment to the mission of FIMRC is complemented by her commitment to furthering her own education. While she works for FIMRC during the week, she spends her weekends in Santiago getting a college degree in psychology. Afterwards, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree. Joe said of Tania: “She was very ambitious… She started with 3 Chicas Maravillas groups and also helped out with the diabetes club that Ricardo helped develop. Since then, she has continued inserting herself into the fabric of FIMRC. She is ESSENTIAL to our operation in Restauración.”
Tania has really enjoyed her time with FIMRC. She loves her ability to work with a different variety of people, especially with youth. As a member of the community who was trained as a health promoter, she enjoys enabling other youth to be able to multiply and spread their knowledge through the community. Tania’s respect for what FIMRC is doing is accompanied by her respect for Dr. Ricardo. In addition to helping initiate the site, he has been critical in expansion into further communities to spread FIMRC programs.
As FIMRC-DR made it’s first Field Operations Manager transition in 2014, both Tania and Dr. Ricardo were there to make it as smooth as possible. Their knowledge of and connections in the area as well as their experience with FIMRC operations made things a lot simpler for new FOM Diana Cahill. For Diana it was “especially rewarding to work on community projects with community members as colleagues – Tania and Dr. Ricardo both grew up in Restauración, and their knowledge of the community is integral to FIMRC’s work… they are invaluable members of FIMRC.”
Today, as we enter the third stage of FIMRC-DR Field Operations Managers, Dr. Ricardo and Tania continue to be important to the operations of FIMRC-DR. Dr. Ricardo has taken on more responsibility in planning charlas (community health lectures) as well as the monthly mobile clinics in surrounding rural communities. Tania has also begun to work in developing her own activities and taken ownership on a handful of the FIMRC classes and programs. With Ricardo’s community connections, easy-going personality, and solid handle on both emergency and general medical care, FIMRC-DR would not be close to where it is today without our beloved Dr. Ricardo! And with her outgoing personality, hilariously enjoyable class activities, and love for her community, FIMRC-DR would not have the same vitality without our dearest Tania!
Written by Project Restauración Fellow, Amy VanderStoep