The Monkey Jungle Story
On the face of it, Monkey Jungle might sound like just an awesome adventure tourist attraction. It is that. But, it also has a pretty noble and heartwarming story behind it.
Monkey Jungle was set up in 2009 to support a medical project in the DR that was rapidly expanding and in need of funds.
Two entrepreneurs from Nashville, Tennessee were determined to use their lives to help those more vulnerable than themselves. Chuck and Candy Ritzen moved to the Dominican Republic and set up Haitian and Dominican Assistance Corp (HADAC) in 2008.
They opened a clinic to serve the local community of Haitian and Dominican residents. The clinic was named after the couple’s two dear Haitian friends, Bernie Leon and Maurice Laroche.
There was such great demand for the clinic that people were travelling long distances to see the doctors, who gave their care without charge. Every Saturday, around 60 patients were seen, and the numbers kept growing.
The HADAC team knew they needed some income to pay for medicine and equipment. They got to work planning a commercial tourist attraction. And so, Monkey Jungle was born.
Many of the patients had known little medical care in their life and had often never seen a dentist before. In 2013, HADAC opened a dental clinic dedicated to Dr. Gerry Pinsonneault, a Canadian dentist who served the community until his death in 2014.
Chuck and Candy flew medical supplies and food to Haiti in 2016, after Hurricane Matthew. Sadly, their sea plane did not make the journey home to Puerto Plata.
The HADAC mission continues and their dream lives on through the efforts of the clinic’s volunteers and physicians.