Festival of MasksCabarete Sostenible began as a response to the COVID-19 crisis by providing emergency food aid to families in need in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Its Festival of Masks aimed to raise money for further emergency food relief efforts, community farming and educational initiatives for the community.

The Festival of Masks

A silent auction was held through 32auctions, an online forum, on October 30 and October 31. During this 24-hour event, limited edition photo prints of volunteers were auctioned alongside photo prints of the communities and businesses that the organization has helped to support through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Festival of Masks fundraiser fell short of its goal, it still managed to raise over $500. The money will be put toward providing meal packs to food-insecure individuals in Cabarete.

Impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the foundations of the global economy, the Dominican Republic had experienced steady economic growth. Between 2015 and 2019, the Dominican Republic’s Gross Domestic Product had increased at an average rate of about 6% each year. The Dominican Republic benefitted from the combined force of several crucial domestic industries such as mining, tourism and telecommunications. Foreign investment and remittances also contributed to the country’s economic growth.

The strength of the Dominican Republic’s domestic industries and its connection to foreign capital makes it likely that the country will make a post-pandemic rebound. How soon this resurgence will begin, however, is uncertain. In 2020, the country’s GDP is expected to decrease by over 4%. Additionally, the Dominican Republic’s economy is not expected to significantly reverse course in either 2021 or 2022.

While there is much hope for the health of the Dominican Republic’s economy in the long-term, the next two to three years will be difficult for those who live there. Particularly in places like Cabarete, where close to two-thirds of the local population depends on the tourism industry for employment, many people struggle to meet their basic needs during the pandemic.

Cabarete Sostenible Addresses Food Insecurity

Cabarete Sostenible’s Festival of Masks raised money for food insecure individuals in Cabarete by auctioning limited edition photo prints. The organization also provides food for the community through donations received.

The entire amount of money Cabarete Sostenible receives through donations goes toward food packaging and distribution. Donations of only $4 feed an individual for one week and donations of $15 feed a family of four for one week. With the money Cabarete Sostenible’s Festival of Masks raised, it will be able to feed 147 individuals for a week.

Hope for the Dominican Republic

It is predicted that it will take the next three years for the economy of the Dominican Republic to regain its footing. Until such time, organizations like Cabarete Sostenible and its Festival of Masks work to address food insecurity in the Dominican Republic and ensure the survival of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. With further monetary support, Cabarete Sostenible can have an even greater impact in the area.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr