Tanya Benedict, PhD, CPH
2022 - What a Productive Year!
Safe & Secure Lighting in the Batey (2022)
Here's a bit of the history about the movement toward solar energy in Batey Dos, located in the Dominican Republic. Pascal’s Pantry sought and received donations earmarked for sustainable energy. During the renovation of the new kitchen, the refrigerator required a source of energy and many updates to make it safe and secure. It was decided to install three solar panels to provide energy for the refrigerator and they were secured to the top of the kitchen. Since this system has worked perfectly, the people of the community expressed interest in expanding access to solar panels for their homes. Pascal’s Pantry offered more panels to provide lights for surrounding homes if the people of the Batey would assume the costs. A typical family buys a candle a day to light their homes at 10 pesos per candle. With a light bulb, those 300 pesos (a little less than $6) a month can now go toward paying off a solar system that will provide light for much less money over time. When paid off, the money will fund another set of homes with solar power. Beginning in 2022, the process of adding three solar panels, wiring, securing the panels and installing “breakers” so that energy cannot be siphoned off began. The total cost for this was $4,000. With this small investment, 52 homes will be provided with safe, secure, and sustainable energy. When these 52 homes pay off this system, the money will be used to repeat the process until everyone has light. Pascal’s Pantry hopes to deliver lighting to the entire Batey over the next 10 years.
Solar lights are more than a convenience, they are a form of safety and security for the entire community. One unattended candle can mean the difference between life and death. In 2015, a fire from a candle used for lighting destroyed 47 homes. Homes are so close that a new home needs only three walls, so the fire quickly spread from one home to another. Although the solution came about accidentally, with three fires and one death in five years, Pascal’s Pantry knew an alternative to candles as the main form of lighting had to be provided.
Replicating the Model (2022)
The success of Pascal’s Pantry has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Huascar Rodriguez was recently appointed as the Director of a Pilot Project for the ILAC Mission in Santiago. He and Redline
Dorsavil, RN, have provided the health support for children and families in Batey Dos for the past four years. They have provided monthly check-ups for children and built trust with the community of Batey Dos both before and throughout the pandemic. The medical team he directs will monitor established health indicators, follow risk factors, establish a system of following the indicators and obtain health statistics for these communities. Their purpose is to effectively address chronic disease through preventative care and health promotion. In addition to replicating the methods he has used in Batey Dos, Dr. Rodriguez will monitor and measure chronic diseases in these communities including different forms of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary health, and mental health.
In collaboration with Chronic Care International, the Order de Malta (Miami), and Pascal’s Pantry, Dr. Rodriguez will focus on the Community Health for ILAC in three distinct communities – Las Cruzes (35 families), Sabaneta (38 families) and Batey Dos (125 families).
Key Partnership: Misión ILAC
The Centro de Educación para la Salud Integral (CESI) is best known by its English name, Misión ILAC. The ILAC/CESI Center in the Dominican Republic is an international, Ecumenical, Jesuit, collaborative health care and educational organization. Creighton University has partnered with them for over 50 years. Through this partnership, Creighton-ILAC offers dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy, law, physical therapy, occupational therapy services, as well as undergraduate and high school students immersion experiences. Everything Pascal’s Pantry has done in Batey Dos is possible through the collaboration sustained with ILAC in the Dominican Republic. From the very beginning, the administrative team of Radalme Pena (Executive Director), Jose Miguel Portes (Administrative Director), Bélgica Perez (Accounting Director), Giselle Medina (Health Director) and Maria Meletín (ILAC Health Collaborator in Batey Dos) has made all of this possible. Every project initiated and completed has been facilitated by Jose Miguel Portes, all money that moves through Pascal’s Pantry to the community of Batey Dos goes through Bélgica Perez, and every initiative in the Batey is implemented and overseen by Maria Meletín who represents and works on behalf of the Batey Dos community. ILAC (DR) has been an incredible partner in this work. We at Pascal’s Pantry understand that as a collaborator in the mission of ILAC (DR) we have a responsibility to initiate and sustain this project in line with the vision of integral development that ILAC (DR) is committed to. This means that while charity is sometimes necessary (children need to eat) it is sustainable justice that we work toward through a self-sustaining community meeting its own needs. That is the vision of ILAC, and it is our vision as well.
Moving Forward & Advancing Community Agency (2022 & Beyond)
As Pascal’s Pantry continues its commitment to the children of Batey Dos, it realizes their development is deeply connected to the well-being of the community within which they live. For this reason, its development plan seeks to augment agency in the community while diminishing its own role. While Pascal’s Pantry will continue with its own efforts, the Community Development Committee, made up and led completely by members of the community is taking the initiative on several fronts as well. Our vision of sustainable integral development includes benchmarks for both Pascal’s Pantry and the Batey Dos Development Committee.