UNH student Jan Wojtasinski traveled to the Dominican Republic over spring
break with UNH social work students to document their experiences working with
The Batey Foundation.
UNH student Jan Wojtasinski, who will graduate this May with a degree in outdoor education, took these photos while on spring break in the Dominican Republic. Jan and the UNH social work students he traveled with didn’t spend their days on beaches, however. They spent their time in the bateyes of Jabacao, La Duquesa and San Luis on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. He traveled with the social work students to document their work with The Batey Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of the people living in these poor communities.
Jan has worked for UNH Photo Services for several years, doing everything from setting up photo shoots to scanning historic photos. “I would not call myself a photographer, just a guy who likes to take photographs. I became interested in video stuff back in high school but really started exploring photography after I came to UNH. My first few years I was too nervous but after a while I smartened up and started taking advantage of all the cumulative experience in the department.”
The opportunity to work with professional photographers allowed him to learn a variety of skills. “I like being able to experiment and learn from my mistakes. Photographing someone who is not really concerned about the photographer is nice; they do their thing and you do yours.”
After graduation Jan has two internships lined up—one with a youth-based adventure company out of North Carolina called Adventure Treks and a second with the Alzar School in Idaho, which educates and facilitates the leadership development of high school students. For both a camera won’t be far from his side.
A young boy smiles for the camera in the batey of La Duquesa. La Duquesa lies on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. A majority of its residents make their living off of the dump that borders the community. A batey is a company town where sugar workers live. They can be found in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic.
UNH student Jan Wojtasinski photographed this child near Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic using a Nikon D300s and several NIKKOR lenses.
Kim Estes, a graduate student in the social work department at UNH, takes a break from working on the building shown in the background to play jump rope with some children from the batey of San Luis.
Kerri Carter, a UNH social work student, carries a young girl from the community of Jabacao during a tour. In the background are huts used for creating ‘moonshine’ that is sold in the Dominican markets.
UNH social work students Julia Healy and Kim Estes on a tour of Jabacao, a rural community outside Santo Domingo.
Kristina Prescott, a UNH social work student, moves sand from the ground floor to the second floor in The Batey Foundation’s community center. The sand will eventually be used for the construction of the second floor roof. The Batey Foundation is a non-profit, secular, non-political organization with the goal of raising the living standards of the people living in the bateys of the Dominican Republic while promoting sustainable development for future generations.
Students at the school in San Luis raise their hands to answer a question in an English class taught by UNH social work students Sara Ake and Elli Wilson.
Matthew Toms, co- founder of The Batey Foundation and a UNH professor, plays with a group of children in San Luis.
UNH student Jan Wojtasinski traveled to the Dominican Republic over spring break with UNH social work students to document their experiences working with The Batey Foundation. He took the 15 photos in this slideshow as well as hundreds of others. “I also just wanted to get away for spring break and do something fun and different, and focusing on improving my photography was a great way to do that.”
In capturing this photo as well as the others he took, photographer Jan Wojtasinski said “sometimes it was really easy and an opportunity simply presented itself.” Other times he said it was critical to “step away and look for something off the beaten path or away from the excited mobs of children.”
UNH social work student Kristina Prescott plants a mandarin orange tree with Santo, project coordinator for The Batey Foundation. The trees planted by the UNH Social Work students will provide fresh fruit to students and community members through The Batey Foundation.
Lilliana is one of the few San Luis residents who received a full scholarship from The Batey Foundation. Without this scholarship Lilliana's family would not be able to send her to elementary school.