music education in developing countries
Around the globe, music education represents an influential force in the fight against poverty. Studies show that learning a musical instrument entails numerous cognitive advantages for children and young adults, improving memory, attention and communication skills. Music also builds confidence and allows students to express their creativity. In addition, the music industry creates space for new economic developments and possibilities. Here are four examples of music education in developing countries and the ways in which it makes a difference in the lives of the world’s poor.

Haiti

Amid political upheaval and the domestic challenges of daily life, music offers impoverished Haitians a source of comfort and strength. Organizations such as BLUME Haiti aim to utilize music as an avenue for education and community building.

After a deadly earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, BLUME Haiti began delivering musical instruments and supplies to help the nation rebuild. Through summer music camps, professional development workshops for Haitian music teachers, music classes in schools and other programs, BLUME Haiti continues to reach talented youth as they learn new skills and imagine broader possibilities for their futures.

In partnership with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, BLUME Haiti unveiled the innovative Haitian Orchestra Institute (HOI) in 2017. The program invites top music students from around the country to develop their craft alongside professional musicians. Chosen through a selective audition process, participants join Utah Symphony’s Music Director Thierry Fischer for a full week of rehearsals, sectionals, lessons and a final concert. Each year, HOI affords hundreds of young artists a life-changing experience.

The Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, public schools are often unable to fund enrichment programs that allow students to express their creativity outside the classroom. Without a creative outlet, many students find themselves disengaged from the curriculum and choose to drop out of school.

The DREAM Music Education Program is taking steps to combat this issue. DREAM introduces music programs in public schools to improve students’ educational experience and strengthen their cognitive abilities. Since undertaking these efforts, the organization has found that students who participate in a band or other musical ensemble are seven times more likely to graduate from high school.

In all DREAM programs, students receive training in basic musical skills, work together in a group setting and develop an appreciation for Dominican musical traditions. Performance opportunities and interactive classes throughout the year celebrate all students’ achievements. Meanwhile, hoping to instill in them a sense of identity and belonging, DREAM works particularly hard to reach at-risk youth.

Rwanda

Music education also plays a critical role in Rwanda, where people are still reeling from the trauma of genocide. Two programs have initiated a joint effort to use music as a means of therapy, aid and economic development for the Rwandan people.

Music Road Rwanda sponsors live music events throughout the country that feature both classical and traditional Rwandan music. The organization also raises money for students to train at the Kigali Music School. Generous scholarships, funded by Music Road Rwanda’s “adopt-a-student” model, allow under-resourced youth to prepare for careers as musicians and music therapists.

Musicians Without Borders Rwanda expresses a similar mission of hope and healing through music. Working in concert with its medical partner We-ACTx for Hope, the organization hires local artists to teach singing and songwriting in traumatized communities. In 2012, Musicians Without Borders introduced its Music Leadership Training campaign, encouraging students to embrace music as a vehicle for empathy and social change.

Bangladesh

The Mirpur district of Dhaka, Bangladesh is one of the poorest areas in the world: 32% of residents live on less than $2 a day, and 48% of children suffer from malnutrition. Illiteracy rates are also among the world’s highest. Two music teachers from the Playing for Change Foundation are working to make a difference here through music education.

Their free music classes take a unique, interdisciplinary approach to help students develop vocabulary, reading and pronunciation skills as they learn their instruments. The two teachers spend nearly 100 hours each month with their students, who range in age from 5 to 12 years old. All students come from the approximately 950 children receiving education from the poverty-relief organization SpaandanB.

Donors from around the world have contributed funds to purchase keyboards, acoustic guitars and ukuleles for Mirpur music students. Each instrument costs between $80 and $100 and affords students the invaluable gift of cherishing music for a lifetime.

Young musicians worldwide, especially those living in poverty, benefit from the rigor of music education. Music connects people through a language that transcends the bounds of time, space and nation. At the same time, it supports the development of critical life skills. It is imperative that we continue to provide music education in developing countries and foster the innumerable advantages it promises to bring in its train.

Katie Painter 
Photo: U.S. Air Force

DREAM 8th Annual Benefit
The DREAM Project is a nonprofit organization that is working to improve the Dominican Republic. More than a million children live in poverty in the Dominican Republic. About 578,000 children younger than 15 are living without parental care and about 20 percent of them are orphans. DREAM provides more than 1 million hours of education to more than 8,000 children across 27 communities in the Dominican Republic. DREAM just held its eighth annual benefit on February 27, 2020, to raise money to keep operating its education programs. Gathering at The Mezzanine in New York City, New York, was the star-studded invitee list. Here are 10 celebrities who attended the DREAM’s eighth annual benefit to promote children’s education.

10 Celebrities Who Attended DREAM’s 8th Annual Benefit

  1. Solly Duran: Most know the “Orange is the New Black” star for her role as the outlandish Araceli, but she stole the show at DREAM’s eighth annual benefit with a group of Dominican women including Katherine Castro (“The Summoning”) and CEO and activist Carolina Contreras (Miss Rizos Salón, New York City). Born in the Dominican Republic, the actor and producer is continuing to support efforts that will help make education accessible for all by raising money for DREAM’s programs. She encouraged others to purchase tickets to support the benefit or to donate through DREAM’s website.
  2. Taye Diggs: People know Diggs for his roles as Benjamin Coffin III in “Rent” on Broadway and Dr. Sam Bennett in “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Diggs was one of the celebrity guests who attended DREAM’s 2020 benefit. Additionally, he acted as the host. DREAM is not the only philanthropic interest of Diggs. He is also active in fighting AIDS and HIV with the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
  3. Katherine Castro:Reinbou” and “American Violence” star joined Duran and others to celebrate independent Dominican women. Born in the Dominican Republic, her family’s support of her artistic dreams and the dance classes she took helped mold her into the successful woman she is today. She went to the 2020 benefit in support of the Dominican’s most vulnerable populations, who often do not obtain the supportive family and education she received.
  4. Chef Kelvin Fernandez: Many may know Fernandez as Chef Kelvin on the Food Network. The culinary star was one of the night’s personalities who showed up to support the improvement of the accessibility of education in the Dominican Republic. Fernandez spoke about growing up poor; he is the child of two Dominican immigrants. He also talked about his appreciation that his parents worked to give him the opportunities to pursue his passion.
  5. Tony Peralta: Peralta is a contemporary artist and first-generation Dominican with heavy influence. Peralta’s finds inspiration in his enthusiasm for exploring his Dominican-American identity through his art and focuses on blackness within the Dominican identity. The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in DC has shown his pieces.
  6. Shane Evans: The author and illustrator has published more than 35 children’s books, including “We March” and “Chocolate Me!” His works explore black identity and serve to empower black children with his thoughtful, relevant stories and vibrant pictures. His travels all over the world are some of the biggest influences on his work. Laura Bush honored Evans in 2002 at the National Book Festival. Evans also illustrated for the book “Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter,” which won The Orbus Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children. He runs a community art space called Dream Studio in Kansas City, Missouri.
  7. Doug Wimbish: The Living Colour and Tackhead bassist also attended the 2020 benefit. Wimbish has a history of playing for charity events and raising money, having played to raise money for The NAMM Foundation in 2016. In his successful musical endeavors, Wimbish takes it upon himself to use his good fortune and skill to raise money that will allow disadvantaged children the opportunity to hone their skills and find their passions through education.
  8. Albania Rosario: Born in the Dominican Republic, Rosario is the Founder and Creative Director of Uptown Fashion Week. She moved to New York when she was 18 to pursue higher education. She strives to merge her artistic passions with her desire to help her community.
  9. Arlette Borrelly: Borrelly is a Dominican-born radio personality and TV producer from 93.1 La Mega “La Bodega de la Mañana.” It is a comedy show on a contemporary Spanish radio channel that specializes in reggaeton, bachata and love songs.
  10. Esther Céspedes: In 2019, Céspedes showed her Dominican pride when she won Miss República Dominicana U.S. In 2020, she showed her pride by supporting the DREAM Project at its annual benefit. Miss República Dominicana U.S. strives to crown intelligent women who are ready to support and represent their community. Céspedes embodied this as she showed up to empower underprivileged Dominican children.

All proceeds went towards DREAM’s Early Childhood Education and At-Risk Youth and Development programs. DREAM’s programs focus on children between the ages of 2 and 7, using Montessori methods instead of traditional teaching ones. In addition, they help with birth registration and parent education. Thanks to these programs, families can learn new techniques to use at home with their children, extending the education past the walls of the classroom.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Programs in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a country located in the West Indies where it occupies much of the eastern region of Hispaniola. As of 2020, the nation’s capital Santo Domingo had a population of 2.2 million with the entire country having a population of nearly 11 million people. Poverty has also victimized the Dominican Republic for generations. In fact, the Human Development Index (HDI) has ranked the nation 88 out of 177 countries around the world. With poverty still a widespread issue, more than 20 percent currently resides in shanty cabins. The majority of the Dominican Republic’s citizens have no access to clean drinking water, basic sanitation needs or fluid electricity. Despite these ongoing problems, a major decrease in poverty occurred, reducing from 54.70 percent in 1989 to 19.90 percent in 2016. Poverty relief through nonprofit organizations and education programs in the Dominican Republic has allowed for these results.

Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring

In 1995, a group of students from Dartmouth College traveled to the Dominican Republic. They volunteered at public schools in the small town of Cabarete for one semester. Spearheaded by Donald Rabinovich, his project DREAM, or Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring, became a rapid-fire success as the project began rebuilding the town’s local schools. DREAM focused on rebuilding classrooms, computer labs and libraries, as well as renovating bathrooms. The project soon evolved and planned new programs to offer children opportunities to further improve the Dominican Republic.

DREAM offers innovative education programs by adopting the Montessori learning system for its students to advance their learning ability. The system adopts self-directed activity where students decide how they learn and at what pace through experiential learning. The DREAM program boasted a 93 percent attendance rate for more than 450 students while 3-year olds developed better linguistic, socio-economic, kinesthetic and cognitive skills. Parents participated in weekly meetings to help foster their children’s education through the Montessori system at home.

Food for the Poor

Another of the many programs in the Dominican Republic that are improving living quality is Food for the Poor. The organization has helped alleviate poverty and provide fresh food and clean water to the Dominican Republic since 2000. One way it provides aid is by teaching dozens of families how to plant, grow and harvest fruits and vegetables through its greenhouse projects. On September 12, 2013, the city of Pedro Santana, located near the border east of Haiti, witnessed the building of its eighth greenhouse. This, along with the other seven, helps to increase food security and production in the Dominican Republic. The Church of the Nativity in Virginia provided funding for this project through its Operation Starfish program.

Operation Starfish

Operation Starfish began in 1998 with the aim of allowing families to engage in spiritual reflection and giving back to the less fortunate. The program encourages each family to donate at least 50 cents per day to aid the poor. Father Dick Martin came up with Operation Starfish to help others assist the poor at a minimal level while making a big difference. One year during Lent, more than 2,500 families donated 50 cents per day during the 40 days of Lent, resulting in the collection of over $67,000. This was more money than Fr. Martin initially predicted.

Community Development Projects

The Dominican Republic built almost 3,000 homes through its Community Development Projects. Additionally, the program also helped rebuild schools, clinics and community centers. Moreover, it assisted in building women’s human rights programs that teach independence, self-care and vocational training.

The greenhouse facility in Pedro Santana provides large stocks of produce thanks to efficient farming. The location, operated by local farmers, has performed beyond its expectations. A portion of profits from vegetable sales goes towards the greenhouses in the seven additional locations. Food for the Poor helped create a drip irrigation system that a water reservoir and underground supply lines feed.

With the progress that the Dominican Republic has made through education, mentoring and community rebuilding, the process of downsizing poverty and restoring its youth with innovative methods of developing skills and knowledge is improving the nation. These ways of poverty relief from nonprofits and pedagogical programs have been key factors in giving the Dominican Republic a fighting chance in becoming a future contributor to others in need itself.

– Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

Kershaw’s Challenge's Impact
In 2011, LA Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and wife Ellen Kershaw started Kershaw’s Challenge, a faith-based, nonprofit organization. They founded the organization with the goal of encouraging people to use their talents to give back to people in need. Nine years later with the same goal at heart, Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic continues to grow through Both Ends Believing and International Justice Mission.

While Kershaw’s Challenge focused solely on Zambia at its start, it expanded to focus on Dallas and Los Angeles in 2012 and in 2015, widened its reach to the Dominican Republic. In 2019, the organization announced its partnerships with Both Ends Believing and International Justice Mission, focusing on the Dominican Republic. Both Clayton and Ellen felt led to serve the Dominican Republic because they knew many fellow baseball players and teammates from the country.

Both Ends Believing (BEB)

In May 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge announced Both Ends Believing (BEB) as its new beneficiary. BEB’s mission is to “see every child grown up in a family” and has implemented Child First software to accomplish this.

According to SOS Children’s Villages, nearly 578,000 children under the age of 15 in the Dominican Republic are without parental care. Child pregnancy, chronic disease and mental or physical disabilities are among the factors that lead children to be at risk of being without care.

Through BEB’s software, it is able to identify children living in situations where they are vulnerable or at risk of neglect. BEB is then able to form a plan to get children out of these situations and into a loving home.

Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic has continued through its support of Both Ends Believing. Its partnership with BEB also has a focus on Zambia, its other international beneficiary.

International Justice Mission (IJM)

In August 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge announced International Justice Mission (IJM) as its new beneficiary, focusing on efforts combatting human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Several months earlier, Clayton and Ellen Kershaw traveled to the Dominican Republic alongside IJM. While there, they had the opportunity to meet with the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, and they discussed the exploitation of children in the area. They were also able to visit Santo Domingo’s red-light district where they spent an afternoon playing baseball with survivors of sex trafficking. They even spent a night undercover in Boca Chica, where they saw trafficking first-hand.

According to the International Justice Mission, human trafficking in the Dominican Republic is mainly street-based, where customers can purchase young girls very easily. IJM has rescued more than 120 children and young women and has restrained more than 30 criminals since it opened its field office in the Dominican Republic back in 2013.

Through its partnership with IJM, Kershaw’s Challenge hopes to focus on the rescue and restoration of survivors, the restraint of suspects and the conviction of traffickers in the Dominican Republic. The organization also wants to help improve aftercare and investigation programs.

7th Annual PingPong4Purpose

In August 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge hosted its seventh Annual PingPong4Purpose, where it had a Giving Wall that raised funds for a rescue mission through IJM. A portion of the proceeds also went to Both Ends Believing, as well as its other national beneficiaries.

Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic has been great through both International Justice Mission and Both Ends Believing, as both organizations remain a special cause for both Clayton and Ellen. Kershaw’s Challenge plans to announce its 2020 beneficiaries on Opening Day, March 26, 2020. People can donate to Kershaw’s Challenge directly through its website, and can also support the organization through buying merchandise or attending events.

 – Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, legislative efforts to curb outbreaks of cholera and waterborne diseases in rural and urban populations have steadily improved sanitation, water and hygiene levels. National commitment has pushed both government and non-government organizations to develop and improve much of the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic.

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic

  1. Cholera Outbreaks: Only 74 percent of residents have access to clean water, which primarily led to the cholera outbreaks in November 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8,000 people have died as a result of cholera.
  2. Natural Disasters: The Dominican Republic encountered 40 natural disasters from 1980 to 2008 that have severely damaged water systems and contaminated tanks. Approximately 2.65 million residents faced water shortages and illnesses due to poor weather conditions.
  3. Waterborne and Diarrheal Diseases: Waterborne and diarrheal diseases in the Dominican Republic spread mainly due to a lack of sanitary restrooms. Almost 24 percent of residents do not have access to bathrooms. Additionally, many, particularly children, do not have access to routine vaccinations for these diseases.
  4. Government Projects: Government partnerships and projects with the World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation have controlled epidemic outbreaks. These organizations have also improved accessibility to drinking water sources to 86 percent of the population. Further, sanitation facilities increased accessibility to 83 percent of residents between 1990 and 2010.
  5. The Inter-American Bank’s Loan: In 2012, the Dominican Republic partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to obtain a $25 million loan. This loan would improve energy efficiency and provide access to water services for at least 12 hours to more than 200,000 residents. Despite ongoing measurements of the impact, about 84 percent of the population experienced an improvement in sanitation facilities and drinking water.
  6. The Dominican Red Cross: In response to the cholera outbreak, the Dominican Red Cross imported 28 water treatment plants to magnify emergency responses. The Haitian and Dominican governments developed a 10-year plan with the Red Cross to ensure cholera-free islands. The countries curated a two-year campaign that pushed their key objectives in eradicating the disease.
  7. USAID Batey Community Development Project: The USAID Batey Community Development Project is pushing to improve water access and sanitary conditions in the Dominican Republic’s bateyes. Bateyes, which are towns surrounding sugar mills, traditionally have no running water, electricity or cooking facilities. The project aims to improve water distribution systems, build restroom facilities and train the population on environmental hygiene.
  8. The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola: The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola emerged in June 2012 as a blueprint for cholera-affected countries, primarily Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to help mobilize resources and reduce cholera-related deaths by 90 percent by 2030. The coalition consists of the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Surge for Water: In partnership with Project Hearts in 2016, Surge for Water installed 45 water tanks, 16 water filters and education and training opportunities to the people in Baitoa, Dominican Republic. This increased the population’s access to safe drinking water to 97 percent.
  10. The ACCIONA Agua’s Water Plant: A potable water plant that the ACCIONA Agua instituted in the south of the Dominican Republic improved the region’s network by providing access to more than 138,000 residents. This number will likely rise up to 300,000 in the coming years. For residents, this makes cooking a simple meal such as rice and beans more feasible.

These initiatives and developments are important in the progress of the Dominican Republic’s water, sanitation and hygiene levels. It is important to recognize many of the constituents that have compromised the country’s water supplies and sanitary conditions. Illnesses that are preventable through sustainable action often affect residents. These 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic, involving training, education and accessibility efforts, are vital to the country’s quality of life.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

airlines fight poverty
When thinking about airlines, people often only think about things such as comfort, price and convenience. Many forget to consider the different ways their favorite airlines make a difference to people around the world. Below lists how five of the world’s top airlines fight poverty.

How 5 Global Airlines Fight Poverty

  1. Qatar Airways: Travelers voted Qatar Airways the best airline in the world in 2019. The airline fights poverty by supporting and donating to charity projects in over 43 countries around the globe. One of these is Educate A Child. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar founded this initiative to provide children facing extreme poverty with opportunities for education. Since 2013, Qatar Airways’ customers and employees raised $2.3 million for the initiative. The airline matches the funds that customers donate onboard. Educate A Child works in countries around the world, from Uganda to Lebanon and Haiti.
  2. British Airways (BA): This airline fights poverty in partnership with Comic Relief through the Flying Start program. The airline raised more than 23 million pounds since the program’s inception in June 2010. Customers raise funds when they donate via the BA website or onboard the airlines. British Airways staff also gather donations via onboard collections as well as by participating in individual or group challenges such as skydiving, mountain climbing and cycling. Through Flying Start, BA helped more than 620,000 children and youth across the U.K. and other countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica and India.
  3. JetBlue: Travelers voted JetBlue the best airline in the U.S. The airline worked with the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project since 2008 to provide equal opportunity to high-quality education to children in the Dominican Republic. In partnership with DREAM, JetBlue can reach 6,000 youth each year.Since 2006, JetBlue also partnered with First Book to give brand new books to children who would otherwise not be able to afford books or other learning material. The airline successfully distributed more than 430,000 new books to children in local U.S. communities as well as around the world. In 2016, when JetBlue launched its inaugural flight to Quito, Ecuador, its donation of 500 books to the Working Boys’ Center marked the first time since 2008 that the center received new books.
  4. Etihad Airways: The national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worked with Magic Bus to support children and youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in India. In December 2016, a group of volunteers from the airline’s staff worked in Mumbai and constructed a sports field, a weatherproof outdoor shelter as well as a vegetable garden. Since its founding 20 years ago, Magic Bus helped more than 1 million children across 22 states in India as well as children in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh to gain skills and knowledge necessary to move out of poverty.
  5. Lufthansa: The German airline won the best European airline award in 2019. Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa employees formed an aid organization called the Help Alliance in 1999. It is through this alliance that the airline fights poverty. Currently, it manages 50 projects worldwide. The donations alone fund these programs. The Help Alliance constructed iThemba Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa where more than 200 students studied since January 2018. When the project finishes, 700 students will have the chance to receive a quality education. This is important as more than 2,000 children in Cape Town do not get the chance to attend school. In Brazil, the Broadening Horizons program enables 30 disadvantaged youth from around Sao Paulo Airport to receive vocational training as bakers or confectioners. The youth undergo six months of training after which most of them find jobs in one of the many catering companies, hospitals and hotels in the region.

Beyond moving people from one place to another, top airlines in the world give back to the communities around them. Customers can choose to travel with airlines that fight poverty and make a small donation to help them in their quest.

Sophia N. Wanyonyi
Photo: Pixabay

Human Rights in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is best known globally as a tropical getaway with Americans making up the majority of the tourism income. Travel and tourism alone made up 17.2 percent GDP and 16.0 percent of employment last year in the Dominican Republic. Despite its beauty, human rights in the Dominican Republic do not match the freedoms that Americans are accustomed to back in their homeland. Here are the top 10 facts about human rights in the Dominican Republic.

Top 10 Facts About Human Rights in the Dominican Republic

  1. Police Brutality: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported more than 180 extrajudicial killings by police forces through 2017. Reports from a top-level prosecutor and the National Commission for Human Rights implicate large amounts of corruption in the police force as a cause for the wrongful murders, nearly 15 percent of all homicides committed are done by the police.
  2. Incarceration: Corruption of the police force has contributed to the eroded human rights in the Dominican Republic.  The United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor reported that there were credible allegations that prisoners paid bribes to obtain early release on parole in 2017. In the same report, prisons were said to range from acceptable conditions to awful conditions, with poor sanitation, and poor access to health-care services in severely overcrowded prisons.
  3. Freedom of Speech: While citizens are allowed to criticize the government of the Dominican Republic freely, there have been reports of journalists being intimidated by the government. Journalists are threatened when investigating organized crime or corruption within the government and when researching in more remote or rural locations.
  4. Privacy: Article 44 of the constitution of the Dominican Republic grants “the right to privacy and personal honor.” No one may enter the homes of citizens unless the police are in pursuit of a criminal blatantly committing a crime. Article 44 also grants the right to private correspondence. However, there have been reports of homes being wrongfully raided by police in impoverished areas.
  5. Child Labour: According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Affairs, 28 percent of children in the Dominican Republic had to work in the agricultural sector in 2017. The government is making reforms to end the severe abusive child labor such as over-working and sex-trafficking. The government increased the Labor Inspectorate’s budget from $3.3 million to $4.8 million in 2018 and approved the National Action Plan against Human Trafficking and Illicit Smuggling of Migrants and put forth funding for more after-school programs.
  6. Right to Protest: Citizens of the Dominican Republic have a right to assembly, without prior permission, in lawful protest. Successful protests have occurred, such as the protest against extending the presidential term limit in order to keep President Danilo Medina from running for a third term. There was also a protest called Con Mis Hijos Te Metas (Don’t Mess With Our Children) against the Dominican’s Republic Department of Education on teaching school children about gender ideology, the proper roles for men and women in society.
  7. Education: The World Bank has officially approved funding of up to $100 million USD to help implement education reforms. Their main goal is to improve student learning outcomes. When the last Assessment was done 27 percent of third-grade students had reached acceptable levels in math. Through multiple new programs, the students will soon be able to compete internationally and further invest, as education is an important human right in the Dominican Republic.
  8. Public Healthcare: A universal healthcare system is considered among human rights in the Dominican Republic. Services provided by the public hospitals are free, but medications are not. Health insurance is taken by many of the hospitals and the Pan American Health Organization reports that in 2015, 65 percent of the population was enrolled in the Family Health Insurance system. State financing of the Family Health Insurance system aims to achieve universal coverage. 20 years since the launch of the idea of universal has been slow-going.
  9. Clean Water: The World Bank reports that 74 percent of inhabitants of the Dominican Republic have access to clean water. Those living in rural areas suffer without clean water, resulting in horrible illness, for example, diarrhea is causing half the deaths of children under the age of one.
  10. Foreign Aid: The United States has an important relationship with the Dominican Republic, especially in trade and democracy. While there is a declining poverty rate, inequalities among citizens is high. There is not enough room for growth, the U.S. continues to help address the human rights issues in the Dominican Republic.

–  Nicholas Pirhalla

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
Although the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest-growing economies since the year 2000, it still struggles with income inequality and a high poverty rate of 30 percent as of 2016. Diversification in the past three decades is strengthening the economy and improving tourism and infrastructure. Despite this, the poverty rate remains fairly high. The following describes five ways to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic and bring income equality to Dominicans.

5 Ways to Reduce Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Government Transparency: Transparency International ranks the Dominican Republic 129 out of 180 countries based on public sector corruption. The ranking demonstrates a failure to control corruption. A lack of transparency dissuades external and internal investors from investment. Under-the-table bribery creates an economy that thrives on bribery instead of honest, hard-working individuals. Active enforcement of laws and corruption-reducing policies could help draw investors to the developing economy and spur faster future growth. In an effort to reduce corruption, the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, updated its Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act in 2017 to include the definition of money laundering to crimes including copyright, tax evasion and avoidance and counterfeiting.
  2. Infrastructure Development: Once an agriculture-based economy, the Dominican Republic has transitioned into a diversified economy. Mining, trade, tourism, manufacturing, telecommunications, finance and services make up more than 90 percent of the country’s GDP. The remaining 10 percent is in agriculture. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress in infrastructure, frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea destroy many roads, bridges and docks. The country especially overlooks damage in rural areas, where there is a prominence of poverty. To reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic, investment in repairing areas, such as farmland that hurricanes destroyed, can help alleviate issues and provide easy access to markets. More than 98 percent of the country has access to electricity, yet the reliability is questionable. Frequent outages in rural and urban areas are common. The government owns and operates electricity, and the unreliability is a constant complaint from Dominicans. A more reliable, widespread and affordable electrical grid would open the country to faster development, and a side effect would be additional jobs in the privatized electric companies.
  3. Education Inequality: Inequality is a major issue in the Dominican Republic. Insufficient income reduces the probability of receiving an education and health care. It also happens to be one reason for high illiteracy rates amongst the poor. About 26 percent of the poorest Dominicans are literate. A lack of education is a huge barrier to rising out of poverty. Adding programs to help enable universal access to education can help the poor and, as a result, grant skills and expertise to help the Dominican economy grow.
  4. Health: Another way to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic is to improve the health care industry. The Ministry of Public Health and Public Welfare administer public services. In 2007, 36 percent had to pay the entirety for public service that is supposed to be free but is not exactly. Only 12 percent of Dominicans report that all or part of the service qualifies for coverage. Cost of public health care is especially a barrier to women, the elderly and the poor. Reducing costs could help reduce the 30 percent poverty rate.
  5. Utilizing Competitive Advantages: Top exports include gold, tobacco, knit t-shirts, low-voltage protection equipment and medical instruments. Competition in the marketplace can increase productivity, a major issue in low-income economies. Utilizing competitive advantages enables the country to produce products for less money and sell them in the current country at a reasonable cost. Poor households would pay less for the products made in the Dominican Republic and therefore would help reduce poverty.

A negative trade balance of $8 billion expresses a need to create and export more products in order to improve the business climate and reduce costs to Dominican consumers. Active humanitarian involvement and utilization of its competitive advantages could help boost growth and bring Dominicans out of poverty.

Efforts to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic are making great strides. President Medina is combating government corruption and the economy is diversifying. Additionally, improving infrastructure and adding jobs, as well as access to education and health care will aid the Dominican Republic in poverty reduction and economic well being.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Growth in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation of 10.77 million people, shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is primarily known for its beautiful beaches and resorts. With a 13.5 percent youth unemployment rate in the country, these resorts provide necessary jobs, economic stimulation and growth in the Dominican Republic. Despite the recent negative media attention, the growth of resorts shows no sign of stopping. Four new resorts opening in late 2019 and 2020 will continue adding to the burgeoning tourist industry, increasing numbers of workers in the service sector and establish mutually beneficial U.S. and Dominican exchanges.

The Pillar of Tourism

According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, the tourism industry is one of the “four pillars” of the Dominican economy. It forms 7.9 percent of the economy. Growth in the Dominican Republic focuses on projects encouraging tourists to spend more money. There are already 65 such projects approved by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for 2019.

Speedy development will continue the trend of success in the tourism sector. The Dominican Republic Association for Hotels and Tourism statistics for 2018 displayed a 6.2 percent increase in the sector, which now makes up 20 percent of Caribbean trips. There was also a six percent increase in hotel rooms, and people filled 77 percent of total rooms. Overall, the industry reaped immense revenues of $7.2 billion in 2017. Tourism’s success contributes to GDP growth. The University of Denver predicts $89.54 billion in 2019, and GDP rising to $161.4 billion by 2030.

More Rooms, More Jobs

New resorts will extend the tourism industry’s prosperity by increasing the amount of occupied rooms and the jobs required to service visitors. The World Bank reported that the Dominican labor force was 4,952,136 workers in 2018, up from 3,911,218 only eight years before. Service sector workers made up 61.4 percent in 2017, illustrating the prominent role tourism and related industries play for the growth of the Dominican Republic. Here are four vacation spots heating up employment progress in late 2019 and 2020:

Grand Fiesta Americana Punta Cana Los Corales: This resort, owned by the Mexican Company Posadas, will have 558 rooms and various amenities necessitating more staff. The Director-General of Posadas, José Carlos Azcárraga, expressed hopes that the new resort will aid one of the fastest-growing Caribbean economies. The Dominican president visited the cornerstone to show his support. The resort opens in late 2019.

Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana: This American-owned Playa Hotels and Resorts brand also had a groundbreaking ceremony attended by the Dominican president. There will be 750 rooms requiring staff attention, alongside the various dining and fitness services provided. It opens in November 2019.

Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda: This newest edition to Club Med’s resort collection will be an eco-friendly environment with four separate “villages” for new employees to manage. In an email to The Borgen Project, Club Med stated it will hire more than 440 Dominicans and help lead vocational training for approximately 1,000 locals to extend the resort’s positive impact. It opens in November 2019.

Dreams Resorts and Spas in El Macao: AMResorts, a subsidiary of the American-owned Apple Leisure Group, will have 500 rooms for the staff to manage. Bars, pools and a litany of eateries will require service sector employees as well. It opens in 2020.

A Vacation for Two

The development of new resorts is mutually beneficial for both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. The island nation’s tourism is highly dependent on American visitors, who formed 33.85 percent of guests in 2013. The Dominican Embassy reported that individual tourists spent $1,055 on average in the same year. Americans received a pleasant vacation in exchange for growth in the Dominican Republic.

Two of the above resorts are branded by American companies as well. Their earnings not only benefit the Dominican economy but also benefit the American economy. Resort companies are part of a larger exchange where 53 percent of 2017 Dominican trade was with the U.S.. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service found that the Dominican Republic imported 42 percent of its goods from the U.S. in the same year.

Unfortunately, the four new resorts will not solve all of the Dominican Republic’s problems. Poverty remains high at 30.5 percent, although it has dropped from 41.2 percent in 2013. However, new resorts contribute to this decrease by providing employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most lucrative sectors.

– Sean Galli
Photo: Flickr

Vector-Borne Diseases in the Dominican Republic
With its majestic beaches and year-round tropical climate, the Dominican Republic is certainly a top tourist destination in the Caribbean. However, the hot and humid tropical weather combined with limited access to clean water and sanitation services, constitute an ideal ecosystem for the spread of vector-borne diseases.

These are diseases that are transmitted through living organisms known as vectors. According to the World Health Organization, vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies, among others, transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans.

The top vector-borne diseases in the Dominican Republic are Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.

In recent years, increased concern about these outbreaks has given rise to an intense national public health response to educate the population about preventative measures. Global initiatives have also been launched to eradicate these diseases as they continue to affect the population.

Top Vector-Borne Diseases in the Dominican Republic

Malaria. In 2018, there were 462 reported cases of Malaria in the Dominican Republic, representing a 22 percent increase compared to 2017. This virus is transmitted by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes. Main symptoms include fever, headache and chills. Although curable, it becomes life-threatening if treatment is not received as soon as the symptoms appear.

Global initiatives, such as the one launched in 2018 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Carlos Slim Foundation, seek to end malaria in Central America and the Dominican Republic by 2022. This initiative will direct funds to close the technical and financial gaps preventing the implementation of Malaria elimination plans, ensuring that malaria remains a top health and development priority.

Dengue. There were three major dengue outbreaks in the Dominican Republic in 1998, 2000 and 2002. In 2018, there were 1,251 reported cases of Dengue, representing a 2 percent decrease compared to 2017. It is transmitted by the bites of female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like illness.

The Dominican Red Cross together with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, the Prison System Directorate-General and Dominican universities, have been conducting concrete actions to aid dengue-affected individuals in the Dominican Republic. These actions include the deployment of volunteers who assist in the elimination of mosquito breeding sites, distribution of educational materials, larviciding, garbage removal and the cleaning of gutters. These efforts have contributed to a reduction in the risk of contracting Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya in 318 communities nationwide.

Chikungunya. There was a massive Chikungunya outbreak in the Dominican Republic in 2014, with 429,421 confirmed cases reported, which represented 65 percent of all reported cases from the Americas. Chikungunya is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, joint pain, muscle pain, nausea and fatigue. As of 2018, the virus has been largely contained.

Zika. In 2016, a major Zika outbreak impacted the Dominican Republic, with 5,245 confirmed cases up to 2017. Transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes genus mosquitoes, symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis as well as muscle and joint pain. It can cause microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities during pregnancy, as well as the Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.

In 2018, with funding from the USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted Zika-related activities in the Dominican Republic, which include emergency response needs assessment, laboratory strengthening, vector control, surveillance capacity building, testing of mobile survey application, and a field epidemiology training program.

As the World Health Organization explains, a crucial element in preventing the outbreak of these vector-borne diseases is behavioral change. Educating the population about preventative measures to decrease the spread of these diseases will empower them to protect themselves.

The government continues to educate citizens about the importance of eliminating breeding sites around homes, schools and work sites. Additionally, the use of physical barriers and insecticide is recommended.

– Claudia Ratti
Photo: Google