Throughout the semester, students have learned about, read about, and discussed various methods of gaining community consciousness. They were asked to create a photo essay that tells a story about what “community consciousness” means to them based on their community work in various nonprofit organizations throughout Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. The following photo essays showcase students' experiences as they explored how people get to know, participate in, and collaborate with a community.
Within the center of Santiago de los Caballeros exists a center for children who work daily in the streets to maintain their basic needs. Acción Callejera’s mission is to uphold the basic rights of children by providing a space for academic, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Before coming to Acción Callejera, many of these kids have never or scarcely had access to education, sports, or a supportive community. Open during the weekdays, Acción Callejera provides a small sanctuary for these kids to leave their work and daily stresses behind to learn, play, and feel equal respect as a human being.
Accessing health information and resources is a multi-faceted process that community members in Barrio Obrero experience differently depending on factors such as age, occupation, and socio-economic status. These factors determine the ways in which this information and these resources are attained. The following photo essay depicts community members of all ages engaging in activities, lectures, and treatment that are intended to promote their well-being. Additionally, the photo essay illustrates the process community health leaders undergo in disseminating accurate health information and providing resources to residents, as well as the role the local healthcare system plays in creating both individualistic and structural change. Collaboration between community leaders, educators, and residents has fostered an open environment that promotes the distribution of and access to health-related resources.
The community at la Escuela Comunitaria Arturo Jimenes (Arturo Jimenes Community School) is comprised of several classrooms full of children, from maternal care to fourth grade; their dedicated teachers; and a staff of other adults work to keep the school running. Amidst this human community, many relationships form both within and beyond categories. When a groundsman displays a special bond with a first grader, the same trio of second graders are seen daily holding hands in the yard, and a kindergartener visits her third-grade sister each day in class, it is evident that the sense of community here transcends formal classroom rosters and work/play dichotomies. It is also clear that the very geography of the school, the place and what it means to the children and adults who spend their time there, contributes handily to the sense of community. The ways students, teachers, and staff interact with each other and their environment provide a look into this unique community’s identity.
My photo essay is about the roles of women in Korea, a neighborhood of Santiago. My photo essay attempts to show how women occupy public spaces and the ways in which they move throughout their community. My photos capture brief moments of the daily experiences of women in their professional and social lives. Some of the women in my photos are captured smiling, facing the camera, and other photos are candid. I wanted to include both types of photos to showcase women in their natural settings and also have photos of women smiling or posing proudly in their professional and personal lives. Each woman captured here is contributing to her community in a unique way. Even seemingly mundane activities are essential to how the community functions. I chose this theme as my focus in order to demonstrate how women contribute to their communities in myriad roles.
Throughout this semester, I have been lucky enough to learn from La Fundación Cuidado Infantil Dominicano (FCID, The Dominican Foundation for Child Care) and experience firsthand the integral role the family plays in the success of the child. This photo sequence takes us through the experiences of promotoras (public health caseworkers) with different families and depicts the ways in which families support the learning process. This essay defines family as those who take part in raising and developing the children. Thus, culturally, the entire community is often the extended family of the children and plays an integral part in the rehabilitation process. It has been truly incredible to witness the lasting effects that this large family can have on a child’s development.
My photo essay takes place in Cienfuegos, Santiago, DR, where I am working at the organization, Niños con una Esperanza (Children with a Hope), an after/before school program for at-risk youth within the area. The environment is a relevant subject in this neighborhood, despite a common lack of awareness. Many of the people living in Cienfuegos spend their days rummaging through refuse in Rafey, the adjoining landfill, and Santiago’s sole trash depository, searching for items that can be resold. Working in the landfill, they suffer from countless dangers such as respiratory damage from the incessantly burning trash and being smothered by truckloads of trash. In addition, the trash pickup service in the neighborhood is infrequent at best, leading to an overflow of waste, which is then usually left on the streets. There is also a lack of education and knowledge regarding the potential harms of improper rubbish disposal. Despite these discouraging facts, the people of Niños con una Esperanza are conscious of everyday harms to the environment, especially in their home. They work to create a safe and healthy space for the children who attend their program, and to provide the proper education ad tools necessary for the students to better their surroundings. This photo essay attempts to educate the viewer about some of the challenges the community faces, but also to showcase the efforts made towards improving the situation.
For three months, I have been working with Juan XXIII, a public hospital in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I have been working alongside the promotoras, or public health caseworkers in the community of Pekín Abajo. They are paid minimally, if at all, to visit the ailing on a case by case basis. However, these women go above and beyond. I have worked with them on every sort of scale from every type of angle. I have worked with them as they visited house confined patients, completed censuses for the Ministry of Health, promoted continuing education, and worked through numerous other non-governmental organizations. I have also seen every single one of them deal with their own lives, their own families, and their own rich connections with the community of Pekín. In sum, they do it all. These women tap into all their potential. This grassroots health work is powerful and unlike anything I have ever seen.
Community architecture is the theme of my photo essay. What visually stimulating infrastructure does the community of Hoya del Caimito have for creative, religious, athletic, technological, and social use? The focus is not on the people, though an important part of the community, but on the buildings, walkways, courts, and structures; the facilities that the community provides as escapes from everyday life, or resources for development. All these photos represent an architectural commitment to provide public facilities to help develop the community either socially or physically. These are environments where community members can share and use to play, study, socialize and learn.The people are left out of the photos to emphasize the theme “architecture” (and its visual aesthetics) within the community. I wanted the images to focus on the colors, the design, and the intended use of these facilities and/or structures without public presence.
In an ideal world all children would have a home and would live happy lives with their parents support and comprehension. But the reality here in the Dominican Republic is, according to Red Latino Americana de Acogimiento Familiar (Latin American Foster Care) there is a total of 580,781 kids under 15 year of age that are deprived of parental care in 2007, which represents an 18.8% of the infantile population in the country. Some of these children don’t have their mother’s warmth and love or their father’s security and protection, leading them to a life of survival and in search of something to fill the void and will give their life direction. This is why Acción Callejera exists to guide these children that live on the streets or are at risk of living on the streets. The children look to this program not only for guidance but also because it guarantees and fulfills their basic needs as a human being and even provide a little more. Through this photo essay I will take you through the daily routine of the children at Acción Callejera and the Sala de Tareas (Homework Center).