CURE Dominican Republic: How Modern Software’s Helped to Care for 8,000+ Children

This is a guest post written by Joel Worrall, CTO of CURE, a global nonprofit network of charitable hospitals and surgical programs. CURE provides treatment for children with conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus. New Relic has teamed up with CURE for the ‘30 Days, 30 Kids’ campaign. For each new deployment, New Relic is donating $100 towards the cost of a child’s surgery in a CURE hospital. Learn more here.

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Back in August 2004, I traveled to the Dominican Republic on my first ever short-term service trip to visit the newly opened CURE hospital in Santo Domingo. It was one of the first times that I had ever encountered developing world poverty, and as anyone who has been on a similar trip will tell you, it changed me.

At the time, I was working as a software consultant for a cable company when myself and another friend in IT made the trip. We spent a week helping the hospital staff handle a few thorny issues, and even though we didn’t feel like we helped as much as we had hoped, the trip had a lasting impact – I saw the work of CURE with my own eyes, and, as a logical thinker and problem-solver, I understood the value proposition of what CURE could do for these kids with physically disabling conditions.

Back in 2004, the tools available for an organization like CURE to “get the word out” just weren’t viable. While there were CMS products and online donation systems, they still were not sophisticated or easy to use – and definitely not feasible for tackling a problem like CUREkids. A system like that (even if possible) would have required at least a dozen developers and a six figure investment for the right tools – not to mention, the Internet infrastructure, even in more modern cities like Santo Domingo, wasn’t ready for a real-time interactive solution. Still, I was happy to do my part as someone who had the chance to “get it,” and I noodled on the idea: “What if more people could somehow experience what I saw?”

Fast forward five or six years, and some of the tools and players that emerged changed the equation. Cloud infrastructure was now possible (if not yet inexpensive), platforms like WordPress were taking off as viable alternatives to enterprise-level CMS, email services like Mailchimp were affordable, and the growing prevalence of 3G Internet made the prospect of connectedness possible, though still expensive.

When I joined the CURE team in October of 2009 as a one-man-IT-band, it was plausible for a tiny team of developers (in our initial case, 1.5 developers and one designer) to invent and implement a solution that anyone who had ever blogged could use to share the story of an individual person on the other side of the world and keep an audience of supporters informed in next-to-real-time. So that’s what we set out to do.

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Every good developer knows the adrenaline rush of seeing their idea come to life for the first time, but in 15+ years of creating software, I’ve never had an emotional experience like our pilot launch of CUREkids in November 2010. That day, I saw the real-time feedback of the very first child in Malawi reported on CUREkids. His name is Mussa, and he’ll always have a special place in my heart. That day, Mussa got his surgery for a brittle bone disease condition, our little team “gave birth” to a new way for people to experience what CURE can do for Mussa and thousands of other kids like him.

Now, fast forward to two weeks ago when CURE celebrated the 10th anniversary of our hospital in the Dominican Republic. It was a grand event, but unlike the opening of the hospital 10 years prior, the guest list was very different. This celebration was less like a gala and more like a giant children’s birthday party, because at this party the guests of honor were the kids who had been healed at CURE Dominicana.

Nearly 100 children and their parents from the DR and Haiti came to celebrate what had happened in their lives, and the party was complete with giant cakes, loud music, dancing, and a guest appearance by Dora the Explorer (who by all accounts was THE hit of the event).

The over 8,000 children served by this hospital in years one through 10 have been provided with healing through the generous donations of long-time CURE International supporters, and there is and was plenty of reason to celebrate.

But what I’m most excited about is what we will celebrate ten years from now. The Internet and modern software are going to help us heal more kids, hopefully tens of thousands more in places like the DR, Malawi, Afghanistan, and Niger, and I hope that in 2023, we’re all a part of the celebration, connecting with people who we might never have met without the web and who have now become as much a part of our story as we are a part of theirs.

We’ve just begun that journey, and I’m thankful that awesome partners like New Relic have caught a vision for it and are helping us get where we know we can go, healing more kids and helping more people connect with these kids in meaningful, appropriate, and impactful ways.

Join the cause:

Right now, you can be a part of that journey through the New Relic 30 kids, 30 days campaign. By deploying New Relic, $100 will be donated to support a life-changing surgery for a child in a CURE hospital on your behalf. Heal your app and a child in less than an hour? Now that’s something to be thankful for this holiday season.

Learn More: 

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their biographical details at the top of the post above. View posts by .

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