Clark Riser Helps Provide Care to Needy in Santo Domingo Click here to skip navigation
  • Shreveport Campus Program Chair Clark Riser Helps to Provide Care to Needy in Santo Domingo

    Contributed by Kristi Kohl, Campus Librarian

    Shreveport Health Sciences Program Chair Clark Riser recently returned from a July 2011 mission that offered much-needed healthcare and medicine to the people of Barahona, a small, isolated village in Santo Domingo.

    About Barahona and the Mission

    Medicine and healthcare services are not easily accessible to the people of Barahona. Because of their location on a mountain top, the villagers are visited by medical missionaries just two times each year.

    Mr. Riser is part of a missionary effort led by a group of Episcopal churches in north and northwest Louisiana. One such group travels from Monroe, Louisiana, to Barahona, Santo Domingo, each summer.

    During the July mission, about 30 physicians, nurses, pharmacy technicians, and dentists set up a temporary clinic in the village's church to provide prophylactic healthcare. Services included dispensing medicine and vitamins, providing necessary dental work, and offering prenatal advice.

    Details of the Missionary Experience

    The missionaries treated 2,600 villagers in four days - about 55 people every hour, or basically one person every minute.

    Despite the poverty in Barahona, healthcare services were not free. The padre, or priest of the church, asked that each person requesting medical attention pay 5 pesos (38 pesos equals about $1). Because of the lack of dental and healthcare, many villagers required teeth to be cleaned or pulled, needed medication for sexually transmitted diseases, or requested antibiotics and pain relievers. In addition, the doctors and nurses also donated toothpaste/brushes, clothing, shoes, toys, and reading glasses to the people of Barharona.

    With the daily temperature reaching 110 degrees, the village church was packed each day with patients. Despite the unbearable heat and crowded sanctuary, the owner of the nearby sugarcane plantation, who controlled the church's electricity (the only building in the village with access to power), agreed to run the ceiling fan for just a mere 30 minutes each day. Mr. Riser was among several who suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration initially, though they recovered and were quickly back to serving the needs of their patients.

    Planning for the Next Trip

    "In spite of the poor working conditions in Barahona, I am already looking forward to going back to Santo Domingo next year," said Mr. Riser, adding, "I saw first-hand how desperately the people need medical care. I also grew fond of the children," who he said followed him around the church or posed for photographs.

    "Trip organizers and I are already determining how many gallons of liquid medicine and boxes of steroid creams, vitamins, and aspirin we will need for our trip next summer. I also plan on holding community service drives throughout the year to raise funds and donations for the trip," Mr. Riser noted.

    Clark Riser's next trip will be to Uganda, Africa, in August 2012 with Joyce Myer Ministries' "Hand of Hope" medical mission, followed by a missionary trip to Cambodia.