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Exchange alumni help their communities face COVID-19
June 2, 2020

A woman wearing a mask looks at medical equipment.

The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo offers academic and professional exchange programs for Dominicans to study in the United States, develop their leadership skills, and deepen their knowledge of U.S. culture and society. Exchange programs empower youth with the training, tools, and networks to actively participate in the economic and social development of their communities.

Upon the COVID-19 outbreak, Dominican alumni wasted no time stepping up to serve and develop solutions in the face of the pandemic to improve the health and safety of their community. Alumni around the Dominican Republic are leading community service initiatives that provide health safety, food, and training to at-risk populations and the public health system.

Roniel Guzman is an alumnus of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and Director of Hub MakerSpace. Roniel is co-leading a maker-initiative that connects 3D printer owners, to manufacture plastic visors to donate to medical staff treating COVID-19 patients. This initiative uses an open-source design, trains volunteers, and coordinates donations for public hospitals around the country. Thus far, volunteers have manufactured and delivered 387 visors to hospitals in Santiago Rodriguez, Santiago, Hermanas Mirabal, Sanchez Ramirez, San Pedro, La Romana, La Altagracia, and Santo Domingo. You can find more information about this initiative here:


In February 2020, Marizeth Beato was one of the 50 students selected for SDQ Creates, an innovation and product design boot camp led by YLAI alumni Emil Rodriguez and Jeremy Losaw, along with design sprint experts Eric Gorman and Julia Jackson of Wily. Marizeth co-founded Open Air DR, a collaborative team working to develop open-source, low-cost health safety products to combat COVID-19.

Through the boot camp, Marizeth learned design sprint methods and developed a prototype for ventilators using Particle, an Internet-of-Things cloud-based hardware, and a software platform. The ventilator helps infected patients that need breathing assistance but do not yet require intubation, addressing a crucial supply challenge for hospitals. Their ventilator design is being used and tested in a local hospital in the Dominican Republic. You can read more about this initiative here: https://medium.com/@wearewily/a-team-of-makers-fights-covid-19-in-the-dominican-d5e989a19404

A woman, wearing a mask, looks at medical equipment.
Marizeth working on the Open Air DR ventilator prototype

The Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) program empowers young undergraduate students through leadership development and volunteering. Their experience in the U.S. helped them lead and support community service initiatives in their hometowns.

Leison Guerrero serves as a volunteer to disinfect streets, and collect donations for food and medical supplies in Azua.

A man sits on a motorcycle while another prepares to mount.
Leison serving at his community Amiama Gómez in Azua.

Eneuris Smith leads Foundation Pinta Solidaridad, an organization that collects and delivers food donations for 21 at-risk families in San Pedro de Macorís. You can learn more about their initiatives at https://www.instagram.com/pintasolidaridad/

Four individuals wearing masks. Two of them are sitting on the open trunk of a car.
Eneuris Smith and Pinta Solidaridad volunteers with donations.

Daniela Santana collects donations of food and hygiene products for underserved families and elderly and mental health patients in Azua. She leads project Gotitas de Amor y Esperanza, and donated personal hygiene and disinfectant items to sixty-six abandoned patients with psychomotor and mental disabilities at center Hogar Ángeles Felices. She also leads initiative SE UNE AZUE, joining efforts of various youth leaders from this province to raise funds and assist with food and essential items for 36 underserved families in the urban area and some semi-rural areas in Los Parceleros, Resoli, La Bombita, Los Acotados, Buenos Aires, La Colonia and Las Yayitas. You can learn more about these initiatives at https://www.instagram.com/_fgaerd/

Several individuals stand and crouch, with supplies in front of them.
Daniela Santana and the team delivering donations.

Juan Carlos Saladín is a Professional Fellows Program alumnus. Through Data2Go, Juan Carlos prepares easy-to-read statistics reports. To help understand the evolution of COVID-19, he develops daily data reports monitoring the outbreak in the Dominican Republic. You can find them and more information about his initiative at https://www.instagram.com/data.2go/

A man holds a tablet with the screen on.

A man holds a tablet with the screen on.









Juan Carlos presenting on of the daily COVID-19 monitoring reports.

Indhira Bobadilla is an alumna of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), and a clinical psychologist with experience working with at-risk populations, gender-based violence, youth, and social projects. She is the Director of Armonizarte, a center that provides therapy and helps individuals through experiential interventions. Through her venture, Indhira is leading free virtual engagements to promote mental health education and help people adapt to social distancing and quarantine. You can access these tools here: https://www.instagram.com/armonizarterd/

You can learn more about the exchange programs offered through the Embassy at https://do.usembassy.gov/ and exchanges.state.gov.