SOMOS organized its first free medical clinic in 2005 in the region of Paraíso (located in Northern Santo Domingo), and these clinics have operated biannually since. In addition, SOMOS began to conduct sociological and ethnographic research within a marginalized community of Paraíso, called Esfuerzo, in order to better understand health problems and barriers to healthcare access. A social network analysis research project revealed social nodes that allowed for four different “social blocks” to be distinguished within the community. This block structure is used to engage with community members, discussing their ideas, opinions, and issues in small, socially connected groups. SOMOS regularly holds community-wide meetings for larger discussions as well.
Through these meetings, the community residents of Esfuerzo identified flooding to be the most central collective concern; because they live on a floodplain, storms regularly displace residents from their homes and impede residents’ ability to safely enter and exit the community. These discussions resulted in the development of several community-driven initiatives, including an effort to dredge the river and the provision of a community-owned boat for flooding emergencies. In addition to flood mitigation efforts, SOMOS currently works with community members serving as representatives to a Community Health Committee, which seeks to improve coordination with local clinics and government services while also organizing health promotion and awareness activities. This Community Health Committee has conducted an assessment of chronic illnesses within Esfuerzo as well as a census on healthcare insurance.