Dominican Republic San Juan and Dajabón
$0 needed of $50,000
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.
The Satisfaction Of Educating Others
Imagine retiring from teaching school and then continuing to teach in the community at large for 20+ years because it’s just so satisfying. That’s how it happened for Miguel, a regional coordinator for local partner SSID in the mountainous Northwest region of the Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti.
At 73, Miguel says there’s nothing that motivates him like “working with and for the community.” He regularly travels with the SSID team to remote villages. They get as near as they can by car, then continue on foot to reach program participants for meetings and training sessions, then prepare and enjoy meals together.
Miguel and other SSID staff implement a wide range of programs, including agricultural initiatives, health practices, law and justice. His colleague María points out that “education is the key to prospering. The rural areas cannot survive without young people, so we are motivating them to stay, training them, offering microcredit and marketing workshops. We want them to understand that there are ways to survive and succeed here.”
Participants now practice sustainable farming techniques and maintain healthy eating habits. Even in areas where temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it rains only once or twice a year, families now have ways to protect their crops. Fish farming in some areas means families have a great local source of protein and income. In places where winds can be strong and damaging, community members are following advice from a local expert to plant more trees as a “curtain” or windbreak.
All in all, Miguel says he’s proud of the communities SSID serves. “People are very grateful, they trust us, and whenever they have a problem, they come to consult with us and seek help, guidance or advice.” María agrees: “These activities have helped improve people’s quality of life.” For Miguel himself, the work has been a positive experience “because it has allowed me to continue to do what I’ve always liked, which is serving other people.”
Dominican Republic San Juan & Dajabón Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner SSID