A 2016 World Bank Report states that, despite the Dominican Republic’s status as one of the countries with the greatest growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, one in every three citizens is poor.
While there was a substantial decrease in poverty from 36.4 percent to 32.3 percent in 2015, the country is still in dire need of reform and aid. With limited access to healthcare, proper sanitation and developing industries outside of tourism, citizens often have little socioeconomic mobility. As a result, President Danilo Medina declared that reducing this extreme, widespread poverty is the key goal in the country’s 2016-2020 plans.
Although an April 2017 World Bank report did state that the business and investing climate has improved alongside access to social services, there is still a great need for improvement.
However, there are three organizations that are directly addressing and helping alleviate the issues plaguing the island. By doing so, they are showing not only U.S. citizens, but anyone concerned, how to help people in the Dominican Republic:
The Mariposa DR Foundation
Inspired by the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, this organization seeks to minimize both the gender gap and generational poverty through the education and empowerment of young girls. The organization assists in funding the education, health and empowerment of a girl, as “she will reinvest 90 percent of her income back into her family and her community, making her the most influential figure in the today’s world.” The Mariposa DR Foundation invests in girls’ education, enforces community engagement and service and provides a well-rounded health program to each girl. The foundation believes its model can be easily recreated in other poverty-stricken communities across the globe.
Many donations, volunteers (which include countless U.S. college students) and a capital campaign keep the young foundation afloat. The investment the Mariposa DR Foundation currently helps over 100 girls in more than 35 families while giving the Dominican Republic an educated generation of girls to round out their industries.
Sister Island Project
This organization’s mission is to foster “community empowerment, cultural exchange, diversity and equity awareness and action supporting social justice and compassion in the Dominican Republic and the U.S.” The project provides access to health care, education, creative outlets, political empowerment and safe housing to people in the Cruz Verde village and the Yabacao region. Volunteers keep the project going by teaching classes and helping build homes. Many volunteers are helping while staying in the U.S. by holding fundraisers and raising awareness.
The project maintains a learning center where health and education classes are taught. Sister Island Project has also built houses for community members, given scholarships to university students, coordinated micro-enterprise projects and distributed over a ton of donations. Sister Island is lifting communities up with an integrated approach.
The DREAM Project
Based upon six values (integrity, opportunity, inclusion, quality, sustainability and transparency), the DREAM Project focuses on “early childhood education, high-quality primary education and holistic youth development.” Volunteers for the DREAM Project come from all over the U.S. and are never too young; a six-year-old can donate pencils and a girl once raised funds for the project at her bat mitzvah. With 14 programs in 27 different communities, the project is aiding over 7,000 children in the Dominican Republic. It promotes change first through early childhood education, then quality primary education, both of which lead to a holistic youth development in adolescence. This approach results in youth who are better-equipped with decision-making skills and job training, which creates more opportunities for success. With more opportunities for success and higher-quality education, poverty can be reduced in a generational way.
By donating to, volunteering for or simply raising awareness for these organizations, people can help these impoverished communities and subsequently show others how to help people in the Dominican Republic in more substantial ways.
– Gabriella Paez