Friday, January 22, 2010

Where in the World is La Romana?

Adults and children who answer geography questions at the Great Works School Friday Jan. 29 will be helping to outfit a new emergency room at a hospital in southeast Dominican Republic, The workers that use this hospital are mostly Haitian cane-cutters and do back-breaking work Dominicans generally don’t want.
Where in the World is La Romana, a geography quiz planned by volunteers and local Rotarians, will take place 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 29 in the gymnasium of the Great Works School. The quiz night is meant to introduce residents of this area to this border area of the Dominican, and to raise $5,000 or more for medical care for a group of people who would otherwise be unable to get even basic health care.
The money raised will help equip a new emergency wing at the Good Samaritan Hospital in La Romana, DR. Haiti, the poorest nation in this hemisphere and the site of last week’s devastating earthquake, and the Dominican Republican share the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and Haitians who live and work in the Dominican often lack legal standing and are the nation’s poorest residents.
The quiz is organized by the Moloney family of South Berwick, with Kennebunk Savings Bank Manager Mike Moloney acting as Quiz Host. The request to use the money in La Romana came from Travis Gatter, a local Rotarian and pastor of the First Baptist Church of South Berwick.
Last April, Gatter took his first trip to La Romana with the Good Samaritan Mission Council. He visited the Good Samaritan Hospital and learned that a new emergency wing was being built and needed supplies.
The Rotary district will donate $5,000 and the South Berwick Rotary club hopes to raise another $10,000. Individuals and churches have already pledged about half this amount and Gatter hopes the Where in the World is La Romana geographical quiz night will raise much of the rest.
The money raised in South Berwick will go to the International Medical Equipment Collaborative, a non-profit organization based in North Andover, Mass., that provides equipment to doctors in developing countries. IMEC fixes US donated equipment so it can be used in hospitals around the world. Organizations like the Rotary then oversee shipment.
The Good Samaritan Hospital was created to provide medical care to bateys, the small communities of cane workers around La Romana, which is the Dominican’s third largest city. Construction began in 1991, with American volunteers doing most of the labor, and it opened in 1997. The first year it served 10,000 people. By 2002, 48,000 people were getting medical care there.
Although the hospital was created to serve the families of Haitian sugar cane workers, it has grown to offer basic health care to all of the poor in La Romana.
At last year’s geography quiz, Where in the World is Haiti?, students, parents and teachers in South Berwick and Eliot worked with the Eliot South Berwick Rotary Club to buy books for Life and Hope Haiti, which runs a school in Haiti. They raised $4,300.
Today, the Eben Ezer School, which is in the north, has been spared the worst devastation of the Jan. 12 earthquake. But Life and Hope Haiti is now central to helping the school’s curriculum advisor, Claudette Charles, who runs a home for the needy just five miles from the earthquake epicenter. Sister Claudette was in South Berwick in September 2008 to collect hurricane supplies donated by residents here. Her entire compound serving 200 of the neediest of Haitians has been decimated, with many people dead or injured and all buildings and materials destroyed. All of Life and Hope’s efforts right now are going to help Claudette and other rescue efforts. Those who want to give to Life and Hope can go to the website: or email for more information.
This year’s geography quiz will feature teams of four people – two students and two adults – answering questions in a TV quiz show format. Each team must raise $150 to participate. The sponsors are Bondgarden Farm, South Berwick Baptist Church, York Chiropractic, Spring Hill, P. Gagnon and Son, Attar Engineering, Lassel Arch., Civil Consultants, employees of the Town of South Berwick, Friends of the William Fogg Library, Good Girl Graphics. Prizes provided by Oscar Stone of The Stone Agency and Richard Donhauser of Eliot Rent-a-Space Self Storage.
A raffle will be held with many donated items.
Where in the World Is La Romana is free and open to the public. For more information contact
The Geography Quiz was first held in 2008 and raised money for a water system in Bangladesh.