remittances in the Dominican RepublicRemittances have become an integral part of the Dominican Republic’s economy. Furthermore, remittances in the Dominican Republic have helped alleviate some of the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing poverty throughout the country.

What Are Remittances?

Remittances are money or goods that immigrants send back to their families in their countries of origin. Their use has been growing significantly in the past few years, particularly for developing countries. Data on the total financial value of remittances is not completely accurate because many of the transfers involved are unofficial and are difficult to track. However, the official value of remittances makes up a portion of each country’s GDP. For middle-income countries, remittances make up about 1.5% of the GDP, rising to close to 4% for low-income countries.

Remittances in the Dominican Republic

Remittances make up a significant part of the Dominican Republic’s economy, with estimates placing the value of remittances at about 8% of the total GDP in 2019 — double the average of most low-income countries. While some remittances come from Europe and other Latin American countries, a staggering 75% come from the United States.

The use of remittances has grown rapidly in the past three decades. In 1990, the total value of remittances sent to the Dominican Republic was around $300 million, but by 2020, the amount rose to more than $8 billion. Remittances help support people’s livelihoods and the overall economy, which is why remittances are so important to the Dominican Republic.

Remittances During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic did affect the overall flow of remittances, but not as much as predicted. The total value of remittances worldwide dropped just 1.6% from 2019 to 2020, which is quite insignificant considering the more drastic impacts of the pandemic. However, for the Dominican Republic and a few other Latin American countries, the value of remittances received actually grew in 2020.

The start of the pandemic caused a sharp decline in remittances, then stabilizing throughout the rest of the year and eventually resulting in overall growth. In fact, by June 2020, the Dominican Republic received 25.7% more remittances compared to June 2019. Remittances were able to stabilize or grow because many remittance-reliant immigrants in the U.S. and Europe were able to retain their jobs or acquire new jobs quickly after the start of the pandemic.

Remittance Impacts on the Economy

In the years before the pandemic hit, the Dominican Republic experienced a growing economy with reduced poverty and a larger middle class. Therefore, the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a blow to the nation. The economy shrank by 6.7% in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the growth in remittances in 2020, after the initial pandemic-induced decrease, helped keep the Dominican Republic’s economy from plummeting in size. The consistent and growing prevalence of remittances in the country’s economy has been an indicator of future growth.

The Dominican Republic’s economy saw positive growth in the second half of 2020 that will likely continue into 2021. Because other important sectors of the economy, such as tourism, will recover more gradually, remittances will play an ever-larger part in the economy’s recovery and the decrease in poverty.

Ritika Manathara
Photo: Unsplash

Women's Rights in Dominican Republic
Over 10 million people reside in the Dominican Republic, which is located on the island of Hispaniola between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country offers beautiful beaches and exquisite cuisine, however, beyond the resorts and tourist hot spots are many gender inequalities. Underlying machismo ideologies violate women’s rights in the Dominican Republic and marginalized groups especially face maltreatment. Gender-based violence limits women to be active participants in society.

Femicide in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic had the third-highest rate of femicide in 2013. Although the Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women underwent ratification in the Dominican Republic over 20 years ago, violence against women has prevailed. In 2012, reports determined that one woman suffers murder every two days, revealing the economic dependence women have on men, as well as prevalent machismo ideologies.

The government approved a National Human Rights Plan for 2018-2022. It includes plans to initiate anti-discrimination legislation, it still had not fulfilled the commitment by the end of 2019. In fact, 58 women died because of their gender, including attorney Anibel Gonzalez, whose death initiated widespread protests that called for reforms in regard to femicide. By 2017, the country had one of the highest rates of femicide with more than 100 reported cases. Additionally, 5,417 reports of sexual offenses existed in 2019, including 1,106 reports of rape. According to Amnesty International, the Dominican Republic fails to properly collect data that would help determine the scope of ill-treatment toward women, especially inappropriate actions by police. As a result, police brutality has become normalized and authority figures regularly violence women’s rights in the Dominican Republic with no repercussions or justice.

Marginalized Groups

Women who are sex workers are even more prone to face ill-treatment and beatings. According to Amnesty International, “police in the Dominican Republic routinely rape, beat, humiliate and verbally abuse women sex workers to exert social control over them and to punish them for transgressing social norms of acceptable femininity and sexuality.” This routine criminalization of sex workers violates women’s rights in the Dominican Republic.

Gender-based violence remains a problem in Latin America and the Caribbean with marginalized groups. “By passing a law to prevent discrimination against some of the country’s most marginalized women, the Dominican Republic could set an example for the rest of the Caribbean to follow in the fight against stigma, machismo and other drivers of extreme violence against women,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International. By doing so, they challenge deep-seated cultural gender ideologies and start new structural change and reform ensues.

Fighting Gender Inequality

Additionally, nonprofit organizations have the potential to greatly impact gender inequality and promote women’s rights in the Dominican Republic. For example, Mariposa DR works to “create sustainable solutions to end generational poverty by educating and empowering girls.” In 2012, the organization developed an institution that offers a space for young women to engage in sports, receive academic tutoring and other life skill training, connect with peers and develop meaningful relationships with mentors.

According to the Mariposa DR Foundation, “Girls who were once seen as only domestic laborers, caretakers of younger siblings and financial burdens on their families, are now reading, surfing, swimming, going to high school, graduating, earning income and following their passions. They are the untapped talent pool for economic reform and the mothers of our future.” In 2019, Mariposa DR raised over $1,443,954. Of this amount, 87% contributed to the development of programs and activities for the girls. During the same year, the organization sent three of their own off to college in the United States. Additionally, Mariposa DR provided an annual week-long health fair where 57 girls had wellness checkups with a 95% attendance rate.

Looking Forward

Through investment in educational training, young women have the potential to challenge machismo and misogynistic ideologies, as well as lower rates of femicide and other forms of abuse. Marginalized groups are especially susceptible to experience abuse, however, organizations like Mariposa DR, equip girls with the tools needed to empower themselves, along with their family members.

– Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a major tourist destination, reeling in an estimated 6.5 million visitors in 2018. However, it also hosts a largely divided society with 40% of its population falling under the poverty line. Due to this poverty, Dominican children struggle considerably, dealing with several issues that do not allow them to succeed and confine them to a life of poverty. Here is some information about child poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Limited Access to Proper Education

One of the hardest struggles Dominican children must deal with is a lack of proper public education. These children in poverty attend public schools which often provide low-quality education with a lack of resources and poorly trained professionals. Due to a lack of financial resources, these schools also suffer from ill-suited scholastic programs and buildings in need of repair. Consequently, “more than 40% of Dominican children are uneducated,” and just 60% of enrolled children complete their primary education. Another problem worth addressing is the Dominican Republic’s high rate of repetition, especially in rural areas, with 44% of students in grades one to five, being three or more years older than the appropriate age and 60% of students in grades six to eight, again being older than the age they should be. 

Child Labor

 These children are then must work in order to support their struggling families. In fact, 2.1% of Dominican children from ages 10-14 are obliged to join the workforce. In fact, 28.1% of working children work in agriculture, 8.6% work in industries such as construction and producing baked goods and 63.4% have employment in public services. Many of these jobs are unsafe for children and some even suffer sexual trafficking and exploitation, especially Haitian children who traffickers frequently send to the Dominican Republic. 

Mistreatment and Abuse

Due to a lack of enforcement and prohibition, Dominican children frequently suffer from abuse. As of 2014, reports determined that 62.9% of children experienced physical or psychological mistreatment by their caregivers. This treatment of children in the Dominican Republic is concerning and leads to adults who deem it right to use violence to solve conflict and gain power. In fact, 8% of Dominican men from ages 15 to 49 consider it justified to physically abuse their wives for at least one reason, while 2% of Dominican women in the same age range agree with this justification of abuse. 

Child Marriage

Another significant issue young Dominican women struggle with is the regularity of child marriage. In fact, 36% of Dominican girls must marry before they turn 18 and 12% marry before they turn 15. Furthermore, as of 2014, 21% of girls from ages 20-24 reported having given birth before the age of 18. These marriages are harmful to these young women, who must place their own education and goals to the side to become wives and mothers against their will. 

Lack of Identity

Another huge problem for Dominican children is the number of births that are not on the official record. “More than a quarter of births in the Dominican Republic are not officially reported,” concluding in a large number of children with no identity or nationality. This leads to huge difficulties for these children who will never be able to fully enjoy their rights as citizens. For example, the Ministry of Education requires students to have a birth certificate to graduate high school, forcing all unidentified children to be unable to get a degree, leaving them with the least amount of opportunities to succeed. 

Solutions

Several organizations have emerged and the Dominican Republic is passing legislation to aid and raise awareness on these critical issues regarding child poverty in the Dominican Republic. Some of these organizations include Save the Children and UNICEF, which raise money to support poor communities by providing potable water and promoting health and hygiene.

Save the Children also focuses on improving education for Dominican children, using its platform to refurbish school buildings, build gardens, enhance teacher’s knowledge and improve sanitary infrastructure. It has protected 1,665 children from harm and provided 27,318 children a healthy start to their lives. Furthermore, The Ministry of Labor has increased the number of hired inspectors from 148 to 205 in 2019, demonstrating moderate improvement in decreasing child labor. More than anything, the Dominican Republic has made considerable improvements in healthcare, providing healthcare to 366,236 poor citizens who had previously lacked it through the Health Sector Reform APL2 (PARSS2). These improvements target the Dominican Republic’s most critical issues, including education, child labor and sanitation, helping alleviate the prominent issue that is child poverty in the Dominican Republic.

– Juan Vargas
Photo: Flickr

Baseball and Poverty
The story is almost stereotypical. A young athlete escapes an unpredictable future in their birth country with nothing but their talent and a dream. Then, they climb the ranks to achieve fame and glory. Major League Baseball star Yasiel Puig fits this story. He journeyed from Cienfuegos, Cuba to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds – in the most competitive league on Earth.

Such a story is curious if not a reminder that ideological battles between governments hurt citizens most. Also, it shows that American foreign policy must work to cohesively integrate poverty-stricken countries into the global economy, and not only for the benefit of talent exchange. Add the fact that Puig’s reach quickly spanned beyond baseball – to the Wild Horse Children’s Foundation, which has the mission of inspiring “children and families in underserved communities” and one has a picture of how baseball and poverty can interact.

Humble Beginnings

Although Cuba’s poverty statistics are difficult to pin down, Yasiel Puig was born in a challenging environment, to say the least. In fact, his home country had “limited access to food, transportation, electrical power and other necessities.” Meanwhile, most Cuban salaries are around $20 per month.

Puig was born to “an educated but poor family” 150 miles southeast of Havana and began playing baseball at 9 years old. His immense and bombastic talent landed him on the Cienfuegos Camaroneros and the Cuban National B team, which paid him $17 a month. It was here that his story both deviated from that of typical athletes and also melded into the often-told Cuban fairy tale, one where baseball and poverty do not interact as much as fuel one another.

Daring Tracks

During an international tournament in Rotterdam, Puig and teammate Gerardo Concepción attempted to defect. Only Concepción succeeded though and Yasiel entered a kind of patriotic recidivism. Attempted Cuban defectors can experience imprisonment and other perilous actions if authorities catch them.

Puig then set his sights on escaping again (some estimate half a dozen times). He endured a harrowing trip out of Cuba, eventually landing in Mexico and establishing residency. This made him eligible for a Major League Baseball team to sign him. Although the specifics of the path are fascinating, involving the drug cartel Los Zetas, human traffickers and allegations of torture and bribery, they are also distressing. Puig understandably skirts talking about it. Nonetheless, at age 21 he received a rebirth. A Dodger scout signed him to a seven-year, $42 million contract and invited him to the United States to begin his Major League career.

Superstardom

Twelve months later, Puig had one of the most explosive entrances in the history of baseball. Thirty days in, he launched 44 hits, second only to Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, and ended his rookie season with a .319 batting average, 19 home runs and a .925 OPS. The statistics complimented his style of play, which some describe as ebullient. This led legendary broadcaster Vin Scully to nickname Puig the ‘wild horse’ for his bombastic energy. In his first full year in the big leagues, he was an All-Star and the rest was history. Through talent and extraordinary luck, he was able to establish a sense of security for himself. The story of baseball and poverty indeed offered an impetus for his success.

Giving Back

All of this led to his idea for the Wild Horse Children’s Foundation, which had its first event in the Dominican Republic in 2016. Over 250 families in the Santo Domingo area received food and supplies for the holiday season. Two years later, he sponsored a trip back to Cuba that raised awareness for underserved communities and distributed baseball gear to children. From his humble beginnings in Cienfuegos to auspicious times in the United States, Puig kept kids and their wellbeing through sport in his mind. “I started the foundation because I want to help the people in Los Angeles and Miami and the Dominican Republic.”

Ultimately, Yasiel Puig’s story is only half-written. He has many years left to play baseball and widen his influence with the Wild Horse Children’s Foundation. The circuitous path out of poverty is one that players know well in the Major Leagues, especially players from Cuba. His commitment to helping those in the position he was once is a shining achievement.

Spencer Daniels
Photo: Flickr

mental health in the Dominican Republic
Mental illnesses and disorders affect a person mentally, emotionally and physically. They also affect mood and behavior that can impact a person’s functionality in social settings. Mental health in the Dominican Republic deals with illnesses such as anxiety disorder, depression and bipolar disorder. Additionally, mental health has many components that vary from person to person. Factors such as genetic history, stress-induced situations and feelings of loneliness and isolation play a role in mental illness.

Mental Health, Illnesses and Disorders

The Dominican Republic often overlooks and ignores mental health. Unfortunately, some consider mental health to be less important than other health problems. Furthermore, mental health issues directly correlate to poverty and gender inequality. Mental health affects a person’s confidence and hinders them from putting their best foot forward. One in four people globally will battle a short-term or long-term mental illness. Expectations have determined that depression will rank the highest of all other illnesses and disorders by 2030.

Men and Mental Health Shame

Mental health in the Dominican Republic affects men more than women. Oftentimes, men do not seek medical attention for mental illnesses due to shameful feelings. Vladimir Caamano is a comedian and actor who noticed that mental health is a common point that people find humor in. However, Caamano also chose to seek help for his anxiety. He recognized that he needed to address his problem. Caamano realized that he must not allow rejections to make him feel like a failure. Thus, he began seeing a therapist so that they could help him find solutions to battle anxiety. His therapist helped him find a new perspective to help Caamano navigate life better and make smarter choices. Furthermore, his parents became positive role models for him in his journey.

The Mental Health Project

Cases of depression and anxiety in the Dominican Republic are surging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 99% of the healthcare budget does not focus on mental health needs. The Society for Family Health and PSI collaborated to start the Mental Health Project. The organizations worked with the Dominican Ministry of Health to teach essential workers how to give mental health services in primary care. Additionally, social media awareness is important for the project to reach out and communicate with millennials. The project recognizes that 15 to 29-year-old people commit one in three suicides.

Mental health in the Dominican Republic is a serious problem that the government continues to overlook. In addition, the social stigma behind mental illness severely limits people’s willingness to seek medical attention. However, organizations and projects continue to work toward a healthier future for people who suffer from mental illness.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in The Dominican Republic
HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic is on the agenda of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and HIV/AIDS has been the focus of the Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections 2016-2021. The goal of the plan is to end HIV/AIDS in many regions of the Americas, including the Dominican Republic, by 2030.

From 2010 to 2019, HIV cases have reduced to 13 a year and the number of deaths has gone down by 4,000 over the years. Female sex workers are a portion of the population the epidemic affects; they accounted for 37% of new infections in 2019. Less than 30% of individuals do not know they have an infection and about one-third receive a late diagnosis. Over 200,000 were getting antiretroviral treatment in 2019.

HIV Diagnosis Decline

HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic has seen an advancement in health through more testing and the option of antiretroviral treatments. The options of PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis, have contributed to the decline of infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a dent in the success of the decline of HIV/AIDS.

The pandemic is changing the social landscape and interaction of people through social distancing measures. Access to medical personnel has also experienced strain because of rising and new COVID-19 infections. When comparing 2019 to the current pandemic, the diagnosis of HIV has reduced by the thousands in the Dominican Republic. According to PAHO, “Self-testing is a key strategy for reaching the U.N. goal of having 90% of people with HIV know their status.”

PrEP and PEP

PrEP and PEP are two types of antiretroviral treatments that people can use to prevent HIV transmission. Individuals can take the antiretroviral treatment PrEP before HIV infection and it is available through two brands. Meanwhile, one can take PEP after an HIV infection and must take more than one medication. The CDC suggests that individuals consult with a doctor for more information. While both treatments are important, PEP offers more because sexual assault victims can use PEP or those who had a workplace accident. Advisories state that one should take PEP within three days of a dire situation and complete treatment within a month. Both treatments are highly effective with PrEP reducing HIV transmission from sex by 90% and PEP reducing risk by 80%.

HIV Self-Testing Market

The HIV self-testing market looks promising on a global scale especially with  HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic. Globally, there is a necessity and high demand for rapid diagnosis of HIV in many regions including Latin America. Self-testing is a better alternative because one can do it privately and it is less risky because it will prevent exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic. The self-testing market will grow more between 2020 and 2025. Self-testing will experience a great impact through government investments in healthcare worldwide. The HIV self-testing kit collects samples through blood, saliva and urine. In HIV testing, blood samples provide the most accurate read. According to MarketWatch, “The self-testing market in Latin America is anticipated to reach a value of 51.24 million USD in the year 2025.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic. However, despite HIV/AIDS’ prevalence, antiretroviral treatments and opportunities to self-test should result in improvements.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in the Democratic Republic
The Borgen Project spoke to Rafael Olivares, someone who had witnessed how child rights can overpower child labor in The Dominican Republic. He was born in The Dominican Republic and traveled back and forth between The Dominican Republic and the United States throughout his early life. Rafael Olivares lived in The Dominican Republic for six years from the ages of 11 to 16-years-old. He endured impressionable experiences while living in the country, witnessing intense child labor. He lived in Santiago, fully known as Santiago De Los Caballeros, for five years. This city is located in the northern region of the country. He has also lived in Puerto Plata, fully known as San Felipe de Puerto Plata, for one year. It is a port and city also located in the northern
region of the country.

As a high school student, while living in The Dominican Republic, Rafael Olivares noticed that “young children were working street corners and would sell water bottles and would clean windshields of different cars to get some spare change.” He believes the government in The Dominican Republic should support education efforts to a greater extent, especially considering The Dominican Republic’s low rating in education in Latin America. Rafael Olivares noted that during his time as a student, he never heard of anyone discussing mental health or offering it to youth. Rafael’s family left an impact on him. This was due to his family migrating to the United States in the 1980s in search of better work opportunities to provide for the family.

The Rights of Dominican Children

All children have their rights. However, unfortunately, their rights frequently depend on the kind of economic background they come from. Children from affluent families often have more rights than children with lower-status families because of their entitlement. Meanwhile, children from less wealthy families may have a harder time navigating life. Over 40% of the Dominican population lives below the poverty line. Children from single-mother households or with a family of immigrants become susceptible to child labor as a means of providing for their families.

There is a serious problem with child labor in The Dominican Republic since one out of 10 children has to work. Without strict policies and protections in place, children may become trafficking victims, having to work in exploitative scenarios. The rise of tourism in the country has deepened the issue. Most families support their children leaving school to work full-time so that they can better handle the finances.

Child Labor Facts

The Dominican Republic wants to improve its child labor laws. It has made improvements by hiring more labor inspectors in 2019, creating an increase of 57%.

Child labor in The Dominican Republic proves to be dangerous because of the hazardous working conditions in agriculture and human trafficking. The ages of the children range from 10 to 14-years-old. About 28% of child laborers in The Dominican Republic work in the agricultural field, which involves sugarcane production and processing, and the production of coffee, cocoa, rice, tomatoes, bananas, beans, corn, garlic, onions and potatoes. The children fish as well.

About 98% of the children attend school without having to work, whereas 2% of Dominican children attend both school and work. The Dominican government implemented the extended school day program. This included nearly 80% of schoolchildren in 2019. All children attend school until the age of 18 through the free, public education system, including children who are undocumented.

The DREAM Project

The DREAM project is a nonprofit located in both The Dominican Republic and the United States. Michel Zaleski gained inspiration for the program in 1995 when he witnessed classrooms in the Dominican Republic with no hydro, running water or libraries, and limited teachers. Finally, in 2002, the DREAM project came into existence. Michel Zaleski sent over college students from the United States to help facilitate teaching at two public schools in Puerto Plata. Michel secured funding to build facilities for the DREAM project. These facilities included classrooms, libraries and bathrooms. The DREAM project takes pride in opportunity and sustainability, two of their many core values. Junot Diaz, an award-winning author, and singer Leslie Grace support the organization’s efforts. Both serve as honorary chairpersons.

The DREAM Project: Programs

The DREAM project offers a variety of programs to improve literacy among children, along with the Montessori Academy and programs to promote youth leadership. It has also implemented the Bachata Academy, community programs and global connection groups. The DREAM project website states that “96 percent of third-graders in the Dominican Republic read below grade level.” The DREAM project aims to promote quality education to students of all ages and improve reading scores while aiding youth in advancing into higher education. Its reading and library program intends for young children to actively read and write creatively as this could help them build relationships among others in the community. Overall, the DREAM project’s literacy programs help prevent child labor from occurring by giving youth a safe space to engage in fulfilling life-changing experiences.

Ministry of Labor

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Labor sends children that it finds in unsafe working conditions to the National Council for Children and Adolescents. Other organizations in The Dominican Republic helping to end child labor include the Office of the Attorney General and the National Police’s Trafficking in Persons Unit. Hopefully, the government will create stricter laws for a fair and just environment for children.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

 

cause of hungerThe COVID-19 pandemic is deemed a global health crisis that has resulted in an economic crisis and a hunger crisis too. In the Dominican Republic, Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger.

Unemployment Due to COVID-19

Cabarete, Dominican Republic, prides itself on being one of the watersports capitals of the world. Nearly two-thirds of Cabarete’s population depends on the local tourism industry for work and income. These jobs mostly fall under the informal economy.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 60% of the world’s working population were employed in the informal economy. The informal economy is defined by hourly jobs that offer neither a salary nor employee benefits. The pandemic left many people without a regular source of income and without health insurance.

Compared with the bailout packages that the governments of wealthy nations were able to provide to their citizens, the governments of impoverished nations were unable to provide citizens with such economic support. Around the world, NGOs have attempted to assist in providing the support that impoverished governments are unable to provide.

Cabarete Sostenible Addresses the Root Cause of Hunger

Moraima Capellán Pichardo, a citizen of Cabarete, is a supporter of the concept of food sovereignty. The Borgen Project spoke with Capellán Pichardo about the origins of Cabarete Sostenible and the organization’s long-term goals. Food sovereignty, the principle that individual self-actualization is dependent on having enough to eat, is at the heart of Cabarete Sostenible’s mission.

Capellán Pichardo told The Borgen Project that individual NGOs in Cabarete were working independently of each other when the COVID-19 pandemic began. These separate organizations had a common goal so they came together to form a coalition and increase their impact. This coalition became the nonprofit organization, Cabarete Sostenible. Everyone who works with Cabarete Sostenible is a volunteer. The organization works with local food distributors and organic farms and distributes the foodstuff that it receives to struggling families and individuals in Cabarete. This forms the organization’s first response to the hunger crisis.

Although it began as a method to address an acute crisis, Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger. Capellán Pichardo indicated that food sovereignty has been on the minds of Cabarete Sostenible’s volunteers and organizers since its inception. “Very early on, we sat down to discuss where we thought Cabarete Sostenible was going in the future. For us, we wanted to make sure that we did not just stick to giving out food because that does not really address the root problem.”

The Concept of Food Sovereignty

Food insecurity means being without reliable access to sufficient and nutritious supplies of food at any given time and is a common reality for citizens of Cabarete. On the other hand, food sovereignty, organizing society in such a manner that every individual has access to producing his or her own food, is a possible solution to food insecurity. “Food sovereignty is tied to land access,” Capellán Pichardo says. “For us, it is important that the first mission that Cabarete Sostenible focuses on is food sovereignty: access to healthy and appropriate food and using the native agricultural land to provide that.”

Food Sovereignty Addresses Food Insecurity

Since COVID-19, many factors have contributed to a rise in food insecurity and extreme poverty worldwide. Mass rates of unemployment have threatened access to food as even the poorest households spend close to three-fourths of their income on food.

Widespread unemployment, combined with unexpected drops in agricultural production, has created an unprecedented crisis. Because of supply line disruptions and trade barriers, often the result of increased health precautions, citizens of the world’s poorest nations are left without access to food. Some of the suffering caused by such disruptions can be mitigated by food sovereignty policies. Perhaps, a societal approach may be modeled after Cabarete Sostenible’s efforts to address the root causes of hunger.

Sustainable Community Solutions to Hunger

Capellán Pichardo is optimistic about the road ahead as she details how the organization has worked with local landowners to collaborate on solutions. The organization has opened the first community garden and is working to partner up to create a community-style farm. All this is work toward creating a social business model. Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger by helping to create a sustainable way of living, where food shortages are less likely and future hunger crises are averted.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Baseball Around The World
Baseball has been known as America’s game since its creation in 1839. It has served as an entertainment outlet for many Americans, bringing about positive feelings of nostalgia and pure competitive joy. As time went on, baseball proved to be a popular sport around the world, allowing kids to chase dreams of home runs and perfect games. With anything long enough to be a bat, and round enough to be a ball, people around the world have found numerous ways to create the game of baseball.

Kids Chasing Their Dreams

Many people in impoverished countries have used baseball as a way to express their competitiveness. With most professional teams coming from the United States and Korea, many kids in impoverished countries dream of one day making it to the biggest professional stage for baseball. For these kids, that starts with the Little League World Series. The Little League Baseball organization has put young kids on the world stage since 1939. Little League teams can represent their region in a world tournament every August. Historically, the United States and China have produced powerhouse teams that dominate consistently. However, every few years, the tournament experiences new young talent from countries like Uganda and Mexico, showing how baseball around the world has been expanding.

In 2012, the Little League World Series tournament said hello to its first team from Uganda. Though the team lacked skill, they made history by appearing in the tournament. Then in 2015, Uganda made its second appearance, showing great improvement since its original appearance. According to Roger Sherman, “Ugandan baseball is young and has faced a lot of obstacles. But these kids have gotten really good really fast, and they aren’t going away any time soon.” The sport has become a staple in Uganda as they continue to build up their baseball communities. Creating leagues and supporting kids in developing countries is one way that baseball has historically helped impoverished communities grow. Baseball around the world has impacted kids, and it continues to do so.

Fighting Poverty With Baseball

More recently, baseball has proven to be a huge supporter of ending poverty around the world. According to Stuart Anderson, 27% of major league players are foreign-born, with the majority of those players coming from the Dominican Republic. About 30% of the Dominican Republic population is living below the poverty line. It is only natural for major league baseball players to use their popularity and skill to support their home countries.

Food for the Hungry, a global nonprofit organization, has teamed up with many major league baseball players to launch the Striking Out Poverty initiative. For the last two years, players like Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dee Gordan of the Seattle Mariners and Jake Flaherty and Michael Wacha both of the St. Louis Cardinals, have dedicated their skills to help raise awareness for countries below the poverty line. Some play for clean water, some play for food donations, some play for farmers and some play to save lives.

How to Help

Anyone can help by donating. Showing support for a team or player’s personal campaign can make a big impact. With each game played, they generate thousands of dollars to donate. With the help of fans across the United States and the world, they can generate even more.

For decades now, baseball has spread its popularity around the world. It is a sport that, played any way possible, provides joy and escape for many people. The sport itself and the professional players have had a positive impact on communities around the world.

Sophia Cloonan
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic
Human trafficking is a crime that involves unfair labor practices and sexual misuse of adults and children. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic is a big problem because of the popularity of the country as a tourist attraction. Some locals and foreign visitors look for the service of young women and children working in the area. A good number of women engaging in the activities are underage.

Female Victims of Human Trafficking

According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Dominican Republic is a Tier 2 country which means that the country does not fully comply with the requirements to end trafficking. For the Dominican Republic to go above and meet the standards that the U.S. Department of State has set, the country must be more aggressive in its efforts to convict more traffickers. Police need more training regarding how to deal with trafficking and work with children on the street.

In the illegal trafficking business, women make up more than half of the slave population globally. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic involves women who are the victims of abuse and neglect while engaging in sexual exploitation. Women and young girls are the victims of corrupt traffickers and corrupt authority figures in the Dominican Republic who side with the illegal trade and business.

Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

Victims of trafficking frequently look for opportunities to become financially independent and make money for themselves or to support their families. Depending on the situation, some victims do not come from the best living environments and want to escape their families.

To combat this, the Dominican Republic has implemented a national anti-trafficking plan. The first one emerged in 2003 followed by a nationwide plan in 2006. The country has seen some success in its efforts to bring justice ever since. For example, the Dominican Republic’s first maximum sentence sent a trafficker to prison for 25 years.

The International Justice Mission

The International Justice Mission (IJM) is an organization that focuses on human rights and law. The mission of the organization is to eradicate forced labor. IJM has worked successfully with the Dominican authorities by bringing justice to the country. A sense of normalcy and stability has returned by removing the criminals in the communities where they were working. IJM provides lawyers to build a case against traffickers that uses testimonies from survivors.

IJM saves victims of trafficking by cracking down on crimes and reporting them to the Dominican police. Additionally, it offers to help survivors find safe living spaces. The victims of these crimes suffer physically and psychologically. The psychological effects of such harm manifest in the long term in the form of mental health issues. IJM has treatment plans in place for government agencies and local organizations that address health, counseling and personal development measures.

Looking Forward

The Dominican Republic has implemented solutions to combat human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Organizations like IJM are necessary to improve life for survivors of trafficking while making the communities that the crime of trafficking most affects better. Victories are emerging and the good news is that some progress is better than none at all.

– Amanda Ortiz
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