Project Hearts


The vision of Project Hearts is that Baitoa, Dominican Republic would be physically healthy, emotionally healthy, and economically healthy, affording citizens a high quality of life.

The mission is to educate the people of Baitoa in these three areas, so they have the knowledge & resources needed to transform their own communities.

Project Hearts wants Baitoa to be developed sustainably, and their theory of change reflects this value. They strongly believe that physical health, emotional health, and economic health are all inter-connected, and financial security cannot be achieved without first being physically and emotionally stable.

There are currently three core programs that help Project Hearts accomplish their mission:

1. W.A.S.H. (Water Access, Sanitation, & Hygiene)

Current impact: providing families with sufficient water via tinacos (water tanks) and safe drinking water via filters, as well as teaching about the importance of proper hygiene practices to reduce occurrences of dangerous preventable diseases.

How the program is growing: researching & planning how to protect the environment, especially natural water sources, via community education and improved sanitation systems, including waste water treatment.

2. Community Health Leadership

Current impact: filling the void of medical clinics and doctors in Baitoa by teaching local women and teenagers about essential health risks and prevention measures unique to their communities so they can educate their neighbors.

How the program is growing: as of Summer 2017, 28 women from 11 different communities have graduated from the CHL program, and women from new communities are continually enrolling.

3. Integral Education

Current impact: Leading 27 community groups for adults and youth in developing social, emotional, communication, and leadership skills that will help participants transform themselves, their families, and the future of their neighborhoods.

How the program is growing: paid staff coordinators have reached their capacity for the number of groups they can lead, and are working intentionally to train new leaders from within current groups in order to further multiply their impact.

History of Project Hearts

Project Hearts was first formed in 1995, when Bienvenido “Ruben” Ottenwalder returned to his hometown of Baitoa after more than 30 years of living abroad. Ruben was moved with compassion by the urgent needs he witnessed in the community, and began doing whatever he could help – from constructing durable houses, to ensuring access to clean drinking water, to feeding those who were hungry.

GRACE Cares first began partnering with Ruben in 2006, exponentially increasing his impact. In 2011 we were able to help him officially found Project Hearts as a Dominican NGO. Together we have successfully completed many projects to benefit the communities of Baitoa, including installing a well, constructing community centers, providing care for elders, building a high school, and providing families with safe wood stoves.

Over the years Project Hearts has refined its goals, and restructured their approach to how they serve the impoverished area of Baitoa. While initially their focus was on providing direct services to anyone in need, they now seek to educate and empower those they serve in order to achieve long-term results

Our Vision is simple: Empower individuals and groups in Baitoa make possible their dream of a happy, healthy and sustainable community.

Donate to Project Hearts to help communities in Baitoa build resources, health and strength!