The first time I visited the Dominican Republic was in 2016. I stayed in Cabarete, previously a little fishing village now turned “Mecca” for kitesurfing enthusiasts. Immediately I got smitten by this beautiful island and its warm and always smiling people.
However, the country is among the poorest of the Caribbean islands and most people are struggling on a daily basis to get ends to meet. The quality of the education is poor, education is compulsory only until the age of 14. Even then, only 12% of students go on to graduate from secondary school.
So, while enjoying my four weeks in Cabaret taking daily lessons in learn both kitesurfing and Spanish, and a few times a week learning the local dance of Bachata, I used the opportunity to visit a number of educational projects. I got very impressed with the local Mariposa Foundation, which is running a school for underprivileged girls since 2009. Some of the graduates are now studying at universities around the world!
Realizing that the philosophy and the running of the Mariposa Foundation are almost identical to the values of Future4Children, we, the founder of Mariposa, Patricia Suriel and I, contemplated about a possible cooperation between the two organizations. The result of that is that we are now building a school for about 60 children in the rural village of Los Maranitos, a small tight-knit community of about 200 people where electricity is inconsistent, water is scarce, and more than half of the population is under 18.
Presently there is only a one room schoolhouse that goes up to third grade. Thereafter the next closest public school is a 2-mile trailwalk in mountainous terrain. When it rains or the weather is inclement, the children cannot make the walk and often miss many days of school. Both the long walk and the inadequate standard of the education make many of the children stop their schooling after third grade.
Therefore we are now in the process of building a school in Los Maranitos to support girls and help them break the cycle of generational poverty through education. The plan was for the school to open in August 2020, however as the COVID-19 has disrupted the process it is now uncertain when we can open and celebrate the first pupils at the school.