Medical Development – La Romana, Dominican Republic

53rd Week has worked with local stakeholders and external volunteer teams to provide short-term, volunteer medical care to an indigent Haitian refugee population in the La Romana, Dominican Republic. These short-term experiences are conducted over a 7-10 day period annually.

Pre-departure training is mandatory for all participants, with preparation starting six months prior to departure. Volunteers are self-funded, with individual donations supporting some of the costs of the trip. These medical initiatives are an educational endeavor for participating volunteers as they are allowed to serve a developing-world population with serious healthcare challenges and needs.


Project Goals:

  1. Improve access to quality primary health and preventive health services to Haitian economic migrants in La Romana
  2. Increase volunteers’ awareness of the complexity of global health and development work and the issues surrounding short-term volunteer medical trips
  3. Provide forum for collaboration between volunteer teams
  4. Develop cross-cultural connections and advocacy efforts


Embedded Learning Experience – McMaster University

We annually host 4-6 self-funded learners in the Dominican Republic. These learners study on-site over a semester (3 months), working on locally directed, community-based projects. Specifically, they work with local partners on projects to describe general needs and health assessment of the migrant Haitian population around La Romana. 

Dean’s International Initiative Fund – University of Toronto

53rd Week partnered with the Department of Human Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest university, and has assisted with educating undergraduate students enrolled in global health research methods courses. Our preceptors oversee fieldwork experiences for these students in the Dominican Republic, providing guidance on research and community development methods to enhance their educational experience while providing valuable data and impact for the local community through our local partner.

McMaster Service Learning Week (MacServe) – McMaster University

For 2015, we partnered with McMaster University to provide an alternative spring break experience. The inaugural experience brought a group of third-year undergraduate students down into an established research project within the community that aimed to evaluate the impact of short-term volunteerism in the community. Students gained valuable field experiences, developing their skills in critical analysis, cultural sensitivity, and research methods.

Coalicion de Salud Comunitaria (COSACO)

The 53rd Week has been instrumental in developing a community health partnership in La Romana. COSACO brings together nearly a dozen universities, non-profit organizations, and faith-based organizations that visit the community from the United States and Canada together with local community non-profits, local government, the local health department and local healthcare facilities / hospitals. The aim is to move away from individual, disparate, service-focused efforts towards an overarching health plan. With priorities that groups can align their efforts towards, the hope is to multiply through collaboration for meaningful, lasting impacts targeted at the social and contextual factors that cause poor health in the community.