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Healthier Homes, Happier Families

We spent most of our first year in Constanza surveying nearby communities and finding where needs exist. One theme that echoed throughout our survey data is a need for safe and sanitary living environments that keep families healthier over the long-run. Imagine trying to keep your children healthy in a home where mosquitoes congregate around bucket filled with human waste while rats tunnel through the dirt floor beneath it. Or trying to clean that same house when water only comes out of the faucet one day a week.

These are the challenges facing Constanza's poorest families. Luckily, our survey data shows exactly where these families live and what needs they have, giving us the ability to provide the right help to the right people. As you'll see below, our recent projects are family-focused and immensely scalable: as we get more funding, we can bring bathrooms, floors, filters, and rainwater collection systems to many more households in Constanza and beyond. Our data practically designs these projects for us, and they can have a transformative impact on family health and wellbeing over the course of a generation.

Project Summaries

Replacing Dirt Floors

You may recall that Puente began a health infrastructure overhaul in the community of Los Gajitos this spring, bringing new bathrooms to 27 families and clean water filters to 39 families. In October, we extended this project to provide new cement foundations to families currently living on dirt floors (over 30% of the community, according to our data). We built three floors in Los Gajitos over the past month, and recently received a grant from Friends of the Dominican Republic to construct 29 more!
These floors cost only $125 USD each and are critically important factors in health and wellness. A World Bank study found that found that replacing dirt floors with cement "significantly improves the health of young children." Among the study's findings: "A complete substitution of dirt floors by cement floors in a house leads to a 78 percent reduction in parasitic infestations, a 49 percent reduction in diarrhea, an 81 percent reduction in anemia and a 36 to 96 percent improvement in cognitive development."

Solving for Daily Water Access

The pueblo of Constanza is surrounded by small, remote communities nestled into mountainsides. Bringing water to these communities is a challenge: pipelines struggle to move water uphill consistently, and water trucks cannot always navigate the tight mountain roads. Our data shows that 99% of households in the city's central Calle Primera barrio have daily water access, while 91% of families in Los Gajitos have water less than 3x per week. We're working to close this gap by helping families without consistent water access collect the rain that falls on their roof nearly every day.
We began testing rainwater collection systems this summer with the help of our environmental engineer friends Tiven and Shant. Recently, we built systems on two houses in Los Gajitos, further extending our health infrastructure overhaul in the community. Preliminary data shows that these two families have had water available for cleaning, showering, and even drinking (thanks to their water filters -- see below) for 54 of the last 60 days thanks to this project. The water source they relied on previously provided water every 3 days.

Clean Drinking Water

This summer, we began working with Constanza Medical Mission (CMM) to distribute water filters to Constanza-area families drinking from contaminated sources. Since then, this partnership has brought clean water filters and healthy lifestyle seminars to a total of 93 families across six communities. The ceramic filters (manufactured here in the DR by Wine to Water) effectively remove over 99% of fecal and priority chemical contamination, leading causes of preventable water-related diarrheal diseases. 
Our program allows families to purchase filters for just $10 USD (80% discount to retail prices) if they attend three educational seminars covering nutrition, sanitation, chronic disease prevention, and filter maintenance. Puente volunteers lead these seminars and distribute the filters, while our survey data points them to families and communities with a validated need for clean water. We're extremely grateful to CMM for their support of this project and excited to welcome their team back to Constanza soon!

A Safer Home for the Visually Impaired

We recently worked with our partners at Health Outreach Foundation to fortify the house of one family with a particularly serious need. All four members of the Jimenez family have a rare retinal condition that causes vision to erode over time. As a result, each family member is either totally or partially blind. According to the family, one of the biggest challenges they face on a daily basis is navigating their own home.
To make life safer and easier for the Jimenez family, our friends at HOF sponsored a project to rebuild their front entryway (before/after pictures shown above). The previous entrance was not very accessible and constantly changing with the rain; it also allowed water to spill in under the front door, making the floors inside slippery during every rainstorm. Now, the family has a safe front entrance (with a new porch!) that will keep their floors dry.
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Other News & Notes

Zell Lurie Institute Invests in Puente

Our very own Hope Tambala was recently selected as one of nine Zell Entrepreneurs in the 2019-2020 cohort. The program provides Puente with $10,000 in funding along with mentorship and other resources to support our continued growth.
ZLI received a record number of applicants for this year's program, and we're honored to be chosen amongst such an elite field of start-ups. Then again, who wouldn't want to back this guy in whatever he decides to take on?
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