As you drive over the river going into La Romana from Casa de Campo, you probably look out towards the beautiful Caribbean sea. If you look to the other side however, the view is not so pretty. This is the neighborhood of Rio Salao, simple cement and wooden houses nestled haphazardly along the riverbank.
Currently undergoing a transformation, this area is set to become a tourist attraction. “Rio Salao: Misión Posible” being led by Ricardo Bello alongside other prominent leaders of the La Romana community have taken on this “mission possible” to not only make the area a nicer and safer place to live, but also to transform it into a tourist attraction.
The first stage of the project, which is already underway is to paint the houses – in bright Caribbean colors, to replicate other popular tourists projects across the world; “La Boca” in Buenos Aires for example. But this project involves so much more than a “lick of paint”, this is the reinvention of a community… so here we find out more in an interview with Ricardo Bello.
@cdcliving: What is the Rio Salao project?
Rio Salao: Misión Posible (Rio Salao: Mission Possible), as we have called it, is a movement organised by a group of members of the La Romana community, whose aim is to execute a “Development, Tourism, Cultural and Economic Plan” in order to increase the well-being of this community.
The river that borders the town of La Romana and this community is called the “Rio Salao”, hence the name of the project and the community we are helping. From Casa de Campo you cross the Salao river over the Charles Bludhorn bridge as you arrive into La Romana.
“Rio Salao: Misión Posible” is a comprehensive community development project, which is why we will need the participation of volunteer professionals to identify the problems and needs of the community – to propose and develop a solution.
@cdcliving: When did the project start?
The project originally began in 2010, but it was in August this year when we officially started the first phase – which consists in painting the facades of the homes.
@cdcliving: What has the project achieved so far?
The empowerment of the community has probably been our biggest achievement so far. They (the people of the community) value the plan and have committed themselves to getting involved.
We have also started by painting the facades of more than 30 homes in the community and enrolled the help of a core team of volunteers from the greater La Romana community.
@cdcliving: What do you hope to achieve?
- Improve the standard of living of the Rio Salao community.
- Elevate the esteem of the people.
- Overcome the social stigma of being from this area.
- Stop this community being the “scapegoat” who bears all the blame of society in La Romana.
- To become a community able to develop socially, to transform the neighborhood into an economically valuable area – with the potential for tourism and economical development.
@cdcliving: What does the transformation of this area mean for the town of La Romana?
The development and beautification of the neighborhood, will lead it to become a tourist attraction, and therefore improve the lives of the locals. To do this we will need to create opportunities for the community to participate in educational workshops, as well as to facilitate cultural and micro management for small companies, in addition to help develop potential services.
We will also be able to celebrate exhibitions, festivals and fairs, allowing us to showcase and discover the talents of the young children of La Romana.
@cdcliving: What are the next steps?
The first step is to change the face of the neighborhood, painting the facades of the houses in vibrant Caribbean colors – predominantly orange (the color of Los Toros – the La Romana baseball team). Put into motion activities to clean up and beautify the area – cleaning of public areas and creating good sanitation.
Subsequential tasks or phases will encourage the development of small businesses selling souvenirs and handicrafts to visitors to the site – converting the area into a “tourist alley”.
@cdcliving: Who is in charge of the project?
We are a group of leaders within the community of La Romana, within which we are forming a number of working groups for the purpose of providing solutions to the various situations that need improvement and correcting for the good of the community.
@cdcliving: How can other members of the La Romana community contribute to the Rio Salao project?
First we have to appeal to human values:
- Promote an awareness of the crisis facing the vulnerable people, who are limited by economic constraints.
- Detaching a bit of our personal selfishness and being generous to others.
- Understanding that a lack of opportunities, not only marginalizes material possessions, but also the spiritual.
- Committing to participate actively in the development of programs Salao Rio Foundation (in formation).
- Provide a sense of solidairty, to feel useful and capable people.
- And finally sacrificed and some of our time and our resources to contribute to individual and collective development of Rio Salao.
Another way to participate would be to contribute and donate through the Tele Radio Marathon which we will celebrate on Saturday September the 28th, starting at 9am, with the purpose of raising funds to benefit of this cause.
This activity will be transmitted from the local Comité Gestor (Development Committee), located on Calle Duarte esq. Restauración in the city center of La Romana, and can be viewed through the followinf TV channels and radio stations: Romana TV, Tele East, Youth Radio, 107.5 FM, Delta FM and Love FM.
Rio Salao: Misión Posible is a not-for-profit project and needs all the help it can get to succeed! Get involved and help us transform La Romana.
Susana Joa (809) 307-2729, [email protected]
Hilda Maria Peguero (809) 519-2797
Tamy Flaquer (809) 696-8199
Evelyn Fabian (809) 815-2183
Marta Victoria (809) 696-4979
Ivonna Sosa (809) 390-0072
Gladys Quiñones (809) 707-4251