About Us

Fundación Enciende Una Luz (Light A Candle Mission, LAC) was established in 2009 as a Dominican non-profit organization. Our office is located in La Romana, a city on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. Since 2009, we have provided services of health education, health promotion, and empowerment opportunities to people living in poor, undeserved communities of our region.

Our staff is comprised of doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and others with special skills to carry out our work.

We welcome collaboration with individuals and organizations of our country, as well as international partners.

Sandy Yan Meristel ~ LAC Director

Sandy Yan (aka Wilkin) is the 31 year old director of Light A Candle Foundation in La Romana, Dominican Republic. He has held this position since Light A Candle Foundation (Fundacion Enciende Una Luz) became recognized as a Dominican non-profit organization in 2009. LAC has worked in health education and health promotion in poor underserved communities in southeastern Dominican Republic since that time, and is now expanding its work and services. Sandy’s story is one of overcoming great poverty and hardship (with vital support from others), to become the director of a foundation that is making a real difference in the lives of people from poor communities in his part of the world. Sandy’s mother, Jolanda, immigrated from Haiti with her parents when she was 11 years old. The family was seeking a better life in the Dominican Republic and settled in Batey Las Cejas where her father worked as a sugar cane cutter. As a young women, Jolanda moved to La Romana to find work and then as a single parent of 4 children, she worked long hours in a factory to support her family. 

 

When Sandy was a child, the First Baptist Church of Abington, MA – with a team led by Rodney Hendrickson – asked Pastor Jean Luc Phanord of the Haitian Baptist Missionary Church in La Romana to recommend a family in need of financial assistance who their church could support. Jean Luc recommended Jolanda and her family. Jolanda used some of this assistance to put her young children in a good school to ensure they had a good start with their education. She believed that education would help lift her children out of poverty.When Sandy was a boy, he and his siblings spent the summers in the batey with his grandparents while his mother worked at the factory. As a teenager, Sandy began working as an interpreter for the Good Samaritan Hospital as visiting North American teams would bring services to the bateys. His English was very good and he was considered an excellent interpreter. He began working on and managing special projects for various US organizations around age 18. At this time he also began receiving scholarship assistance from a US group to attend a Dominican university to study marketing. He completed his studies and graduated in four years. He also was (and is) a lead singer for the popular Maranatha Band. The projects that Sandy managed in these years were commissioned by US organizations and included local production of an innovative series of health education “movies” that were presented with portable equipment/generator in the bateys and other poor communities from 2009-2012 to over 15,000 people. In 2012, Light A Candle began to focus less on film production/presentation and more on health promotion and empowerment services to poor communities. This included a growth monitoring program for young children to assist those with malnutrition. Shortly after, another new program of health education and empowerment was launched for young people in the batey to learn about their health, how to prevent illness, and charged to become health leaders their communities. This was called Multiplying Light and, then as now, consists of 8 sessions of a participatory educational curriculum on a particular health topic (Hygiene and Disease Prevention, STI & HIV Prevention, Heart Health).

Other accomplishments and recognition
3 time Youth Provincial Award Winner

3 time 2012, 2017, 2018 Youth National Award Nominee 
NGO of the Year by Estilo Juvenil Award
NGO of the Year by City Hall of La Romana