For more information, please visit www.HADAC.org
Chuck and Candy were traveling around the Caribbean on their boat and enjoying retirement when a visit to Haiti had a life changing impact on them. They decided they wanted to help the impoverished nation as much as they could. A good friend directed them to visit the Dominican Republic and set up a residence there.
And so their story begins…
Monkey Jungle was inspired by the Haitian and Dominican Assistance Corporation (HADAC) which was formed in 2008 by Chuck and Candy Ritzen. Chuck & Candy were two entrepreneurs from Nashville, Tennessee who dedicated their lives to improving the lives of those around them. The creation of the Leon/Laraoche Medical Clinic; a free clinic for Dominicans and Haitians was built and named after two great Haitian friends, Bernie Leon and Maurice Laroche. The original plan was that HADAC would provide support for the 550 + Haitians and Dominicans living in close proximity to our clinic. Word traveled fast of the offer for treatment, far many had never seen a dentist in their life and just couldn’t afford to see a doctor. They were coming as far as 2 hours away and approximately 60 patients were being seen each Saturday. The demand was growing! By the end of 2009 it was apparent that there was a need for a commercial attraction to expand, maintain and perpetuate these free clinics. The idea to open a Monkey and Zip line attraction was born. In 2013, a new Dental Clinic was built and dedicated to Dr. Gerry Pinsonneault, a retired orthodontist from Canada. Dr. Gerry spent his time offering free dental care for those who could not afford it until his death in 2014.
On October 17, 2016, following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Matthew, Chuck & Candy flew medical supplies, tarps and food to the people of Haiti. Upon returning to Puerto Plata their single engine sea plane was caught in a storm, and they were lost to the sea. Benjamin Cole Brown was also a passenger on board who was a manager with Live Different, a Canadian Charity that has built homes and schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Their dream continues through the continued support of those that come to visit Monkey Jungle, and the dedicated volunteers, visiting doctors and friends. Profits from the tourist activities, bar, gift store sales and donations are deposited into HADAC, a 501c3 and registered Dominican NGO. These proceeds go to fund medical and dental care, medicines, food programs, vocational training and educational programs, who will help these underserved people without charge to them of any kind.