Dengue and Self-Efficacy: Interviews Begin, CDS Meeting Happens

After spending the past few days working in the community the SOMOS summer team has set some lofty goals but I truly believe that the team has risen to the occasion. During our time here, we have ran trouble-shooting interviews (which have provided us with sufficient information as to how to edit the questions so as to be understood by respondents), held a community wide meeting, and held a meeting of the Comité de Salud (Health Committee).

Within the course of the interviewing process, the Dengue survey has been tailored in such a way that the respondents can quickly understand what they are being prompted to answer, so as to avoid rephrasing of the question so as to better understand. This process has shown us that Likert-scaling questions work within a limited population of the community – it seems that the more accustomed the respondent is to the educational system, the more adept they are at following the question. Therefore, in order to decrease confusion when given Likert-scaling options, only three options are originally presented; for example: I disagree, I am neutral, I agree. Once they determine an answer, I ask them to expand; if they respond: I agree, then I will ask do you agree somewhat or totally? In this manner, Likert-scaling (a process back by the literature searches that have been conducted) is maintained as a component of the interview. In addition, the preface that I give to the respondent has been altered somewhat so as to make sure there exists a general understanding that no answer is wrong, it simply serves as a bench mark of commonly held beliefs surrounding dengue in the community.

After completing a little less than half of the necessary random sampling, it has come to my attention that there do exist some commonly held beliefs in the community. One being that the community seems uncertain as to the breeding grounds of dengue carrying mosquitoes and how to prevent their breeding. Additionally, most if not all of the respondents are extremely concerned with the risk of dengue and are cognizant of some threat in their daily lives. Finally, many of the respondents feel that the lack of information, resources, or time are common reasons/obstacles the prevent dengue prevention. Bear in mind, these are only preliminary observations. I look forward to taking an entire sample set into account very soon.

During the meeting of the Comité de Salud, we discussed extensively the interview. I explained to the group that there was a theory to support our collection of information prior to implementing a campaign against the concern. In doing so, I explained, we are able to focus the prevention effort in a way that may alter behavior or help the community strive towards communal prevention. The members of the committee seemed to take hold to this idea and understood the logic. After probing for their opinions on the survey, they felt that the survey asked a lot of questions but covered information that would be useful both to them and SOMOS. A very encouraging sentiment. The committee expressed a desire to do initial implementation of preliminary dengue awareness efforts, specifically a trash clean up and demonstration for the children. Their enthusiasm about the campaign was extremely palpable. At this moment, I and my teammates offered any support they might desire along the way, and also pointed out that we can implement the information-backed campaign this coming winter when the entire SOMOS team returns to the community. Two members of the committee will hopefully accompany us during our interviewing on Thursday and Friday. The meeting continued as we discussed ongoing efforts of the committee and continued to have a back-and-forth about local health concerns. We are hopeful that the committee has a growing sense of ownership over their role as the community’s health advocate, as well as a growing sense of excitement for the work they do and continue to do.

And just in case you were curious… the community meeting, while well-advertised, was not the best attended meeting. We did discuss the EWB trip that happened in March, our interviews, the coming HOMBRE clinic, and the communities concerns. A second follow-up community meeting has been scheduled for this weekend, fingers crossed for better attendance.

We are working to make all necessary connections with in-country contacts and follow through with all team obligations.

The duration of my time in the Dominican will be spent conducting other meetings necessary to maintain the efforts of the SOMOS project and finish up the Dengue interviews (as well as the SNA and Inclusivity interviews that are being carried out by my teammates). The trip has been off to a great start and I am very fortunate to have such thoughtful and hard working teammates at my side, this trip and work would not be possible without them.

The days are long and hot down here on the island of Hispaniola, but nothing is better than the feeling of accomplishment after a long day in the community while sipping on the wonderful chinola juice (famous in the Dominican).


¡Nos vemos!


  1. Darice Xue says:

    Hello, Morgan! It seems like all is well and that you’ve been very busy these past few weeks in the community of Esfuerzo.

    I was just curious about the environment that you and the other SOMOS-eros were working in. To my understanding, SOMOS has had a fairly strong presence in Esfuerzo, but as a newer member of SOMOS what has stood out most to you? How has the cultural integration process been, and what do the local people feel about SOMOS and its work in general? Furthermore, are there other aid organizations in the region that you have to coordinate with in order to accomplish similar goals? What are some long-term challenges that SOMOS is trying to resolve?

    I’m a bit of a aid management nerd and I’ve never worked in the field, so any insight you might provide would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

  2. This sounds like a really cool project! I am part of a group at William and Mary called Students for Belize Education where we travel to Belize over Winter Break and provide educational-based aid to kids there. I really like to read up about other groups from William and Mary that travel internationally to help other communities. The Likert-scaled question system was interesting to read about and seemed to work well for you. This is something that could be potentially useful for my group when we travel to Belize in January. I will have to do more research on it and see. Good luck with the rest of your trip and research!

  3. Morgan Sehdev says:

    Hi, Darice!
    Thanks for the interest! These are all great questions, some of the more poignant ones are questions that SOMOS grapples with on a weekly basis in our seminar. What has stood out the most to me is the disparity that exists among residents in the community, residents within the larger city, and residents within the country. The benefits or lack thereof that one receives in the Dominican based on minor changes among social class rankings is staggering, at least in my opinion. Additionally, Esfuerzo, while its residents may not have much, might be one of the most welcoming environments and communities that I have had the pleasure of working in. It seems that SOMOS is generally regarded as a positive influence in the community, but the team tries to remain aware of our role as a “resource” and our role as facilitators/partners – one obviously providing more sustainability in the long run. We attempt to be as cognizant of our cultural integration as possible. While we recognize that we are a group of primarily white students going into a Dominican community, we attempt to the best of our ability to observe Dominican practices and maintain conversation in Spanish so as to include the residents in discussion. We have not had to coordinate with other organizations, to the best of my knowledge, but remember there is a long running history in SOMOS. As far as other long term goals, we hope to establish consistent activity among task groups in the community – both the Comité de Salud (health) and the Comité de Aguas (water – working with the EWB to alleviate flooding). Hopefully, one day we can reach a point where flooding is no longer a concern and the community of Esfuerzo has enough community infrastructure that it can overcome the pitfalls of marginalization – such as lack of resources and aid.
    These are just some brief answers to your very thoughtful questions, I could spend a long time discussing each one with you and would not mind doing that if you would like.

    Thank you so much