Dominican Republic San Juan and Dajabón
$60,000 needed of $130,000
Church World Service (CWS)
The western regions of the Dominican Republic near the border of Haiti have some of the highest levels of poverty and hunger in the entire country. This program builds upon lessons learned in the previous Dominican Republic – Bateyes program and expands into new communities and regions of the country. Dajabón is the north-western most corner, is mountainous and has abundant water, making aquaculture possible. Some participating families are learning to raise tilapia in ponds. Other families are learning vegetable gardening utilizing existing greenhouses that are being repaired. San Juan is further south and the program in that area is focused on micro-credit and vegetable gardening. One unique piece of this program is an additional training focus on providing work opportunities for elderly community members, who, due to migration, are oftentimes responsible for raising their grandchildren.
Leadership During Hard Times
During the pandemic, Nelson, president of a youth group called Youth United for the Development of the Community of El Batey, learned that “A true entrepreneur shows leadership during hard times.”
At the start of 2020, Nelson had been studying mathematics at the university and attending a finance and accounting course at his government´s vocational and professional education agency. The university closed down due to COVID, and the monthly scholarship he’d been receiving for excellent grades was suspended, affecting him and his family. While he is grateful that his family is still intact, he has seen many people suffer due to the mass unemployment caused by the pandemic.
He took part in an Entrepreneurship training course given by local partner SSID and saw that, “If I do it right, I can begin a new business despite how big the difficulties seem to be.” He was impressed that one of the participants was making and selling masks and gloves, seizing an opportunity that also benefited others in the crisis. Nelson joined his community in building a tree nursery and was inspired with an idea: why not plant fruit trees on a nearby vacant plot of land?
Nelson says, “The tree nursery project is very important for all of us, especially for youth, because it will create jobs. If young people can make a decent living here, then at least we have the option to stay if we want, rather than being forced toward the big cities to look for work. I am part of the tree nursery project, and one of the things I like about it is that we will travel to other communities to sell our plants. We can meet new people, share ideas, and learn from each other. It won´t be just about selling our production and making a profit, but making new friends and learning. Of course, the tree nursery will help members to expand their income as well.”
The 13 program communities observed safety precautions yet remained engaged in activities throughout the pandemic, especially greenhouse maintenance and operation, vegetable production, raising fish, and repairing water systems.
Dominican Republic San Juan and Dajabón Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID)