Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) combined have the most HIV cases in the entire Caribbean region, an estimated 85%. The "bateyes" (bah-TAYZ) are remote rural communities, housing migrant Haitian and Dominican laborers and their families in mud and split-cane shacks. There are no sewage systems, running water, or electrical systems in the bateyes. Disease is rampant, and healthcare is otherwise nonexistent. The batey population (200,000 who are mostly poor marginalized dark skinned Haitian migrant sugar cane families and Dominicans of Haitian origin) suffers disproportionately from HIV and AIDS, and the UNAIDS estimates that more than 5% of the people living in the bateyes are infected with the deadly virus.
With the help of the Bill Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative and the USAID-funded Family Health International “Conecta” Project, BRA is currently developing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program in the bateyes of the Monte Plata province, where there are an estimated 1,300 cases of diagnosed and undiagnosed. By targeting 40 of Monte Plata’s 60 bateyes, BRA will be able to reach two thirds of the communities with its education and community empowerment programs. Through these efforts, BRA seeks to reduce the instances of new HIV cases by 5% within the first five years of the project. By offering HIV testing and treatment to pregnant women, BRA seeks to significantly reduce vertical transmission of HIV.
“BRA’s health and HIV/AIDS program, when fully operational, will offer an example of quality, comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment in the DR. It is our hope that other organizations will take after its example and initiate similar programs both inside the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries, including Haiti,” concluded Gaillard.
Last July's inaugural benefit concert, held at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove, raised raised over $15,000 in response to devastating floods on the island of Hispaniola, which encompasses both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, killing over 3000 people, leaving countless more homeless, and creating widespread water-born disease.
"The Batey Relief Alliance's humanitarian mission is to help promote equity and self-sufficiency - improve human rights conditions - raise public awareness - and facilitate dialogues and bona fide collaborative endeavors gearing towards creating a productive environment for the Caribbean's most vulnerable people. We represent a broad spectrum of organizations interested in improving human conditions. We are apolitical and unite local grassroots organizations, international aid groups, universities, and government agencies in a strategic partnership," notes Gaillard.
http://www.bateyrelief.org/archives/000142.php <-- a link to the organization that's sponsoring the concert
Yesterday we drove down to Ocean City, NJ for my viola-playing sister's first orchestra solo, with the Ocean City Pops. A family that we know from various youth orchestras in the past was there because they were soloing with the orch. as well. After the rehearsal we went to the boardwalk and did all the necessary things such as ride the ferris wheel and get cotton candy. We had a lot of down time before the concert, so when we got back I practiced a bit in a the hallway outside of the auditorium. My grandmother on my dad's side, my grandparents on my mom's side and my cousin on that side, and my sister's boyfriend came too. It was very late when we got back and I was so dead tired that I almost fell asleep with my nice clothes on.
This morning I was scheduled to play three unaccompanied Bach movements in my grandma's church (the second mvt of the B minor, the double, and the gavotte en rondeau and the gigue of the E Major). So me and my dad left the house at about 9, very hungry. There was no food in the house because we had been too busy to go shopping! So we got to the church and I warmed up, then the service started. I played my pieces okay (except my darn Eing SQUEAKED a couple of times!) but I learned a valuable lesson: never perform without eating first. Because for one thing, I was incredibly nervous for something so minor (I mean, nobody in the congregation were serious musicians) really nervous, like shaking! I believe I was just as or even more nervous for this than when I soloed with an orchestra in front of a thousand people last October! And I definitely shouldn't have been worried (I know those pieces like the back of my hand). And the performance was fine but I play them much better. We think it's because I had really low blood sugar. But, it's OK; I'd rather have learned that now for an unimportant thing than learn it later during an orchestra solo or something.
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