In Southeastern Dominican Republic
Geography & Climate
- The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The western third is occupied by Haiti.
- The island borders the Caribbean to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
- The Dominican Republic has a moderate, relatively mild tropical climate. Temperatures rarely rise above 90 degrees, and freezing temperatures are unknown.
- Occasionally, severe tropical storms and hurricanes cause devastation to the country.
Adults in the region’s urban centers work at whatever day labor jobs they can, receiving only the equivalent of about $8 for a full day of backbreaking work.
Those lucky enough to have motorcycles can earn a little more by transporting passengers, taxi-style, around the city.
Adults in rural areas typically work in the vast sugarcane fields. But this work is only seasonal, from January through June, and pays a meager wage.
To help meet their needs, rural families usually keep livestock and grow a few crops on the land around their homes.
Many adults bring their families to work in hotels in the coast’s popular tourist centers.
Children at Home
In the rural southeastern region of the Dominican Republic, children typically live in homes made of corrugated metal sheets.
Houses are easily damaged or even destroyed during storms.
These flimsy dwellings seldom have electricity or running water, and the community usually shares a common latrine. Without fuel, families cook their meals over wood fires.
In the urban areas, children live in crowded slums.
Issues and Concerns
- Families in the rural southeast are even more impoverished than those in the cities. Adults typically work only from January through June during the zafra, or sugarcane harvest.
- Cutting sugarcane by hand in the blazing sun is hard work for meager pay. For every ton of sugarcane cut and loaded onto a wagon, a worker is paid between $4 and $5.
- Although the government has made it illegal to hire children to work in the sugarcane fields, they are often seen working side-by-side with their parents, sunup to sundown.
- Rarely can rural families afford more than two meager meals a day. Most also grow fruit and vegetables on small plots of land around their houses or raise a few goats and a cow to supplement their diet.
Local Needs and Challenges
There is an annual danger of devastation presented by the hurricane season.
Children in southeastern Dominican Republic deal with the temptation to drop out of school to work to help their families.
Many of the region’s children are being cared for by single mothers or relatives.
Many innocent children are forced into sex trafficking, which proliferates in the country’s tourist centers.
Schools and Education
- Children in the southeast frequently quit school to look for work to help improve their families’ economic situation.
- Public school curriculum is old.
- The failure rate among students is high.
Compassion Dominican Republic works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion-assisted child development centers in the Dominican Republic’s southeastern region provide registered children with the material assistance and learning opportunities they need to develop their full potential in Christ.
In addition to attending school, children receive tutoring, supplemental nutrition, health and hygiene training, and the opportunity to learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
They also spend time praying for their sponsors and writing letters to them.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion brings real help and hope to children in need in southeastern Dominican Republic, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- extra tutoring at their Compassion center to help ensure that they stay in school and excel at their studies
- lessons about how to build and maintain healthy relationships
- activities in technical-vocational skills, arts, sports, higher education, leadership, ministry development and entrepreneurship to help them acquire skills to generate income and become self-reliant
- training for parents to make them aware of the importance of their children’s education
- an introduction to the love of God and encouragement to discover and follow His plan