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Homelessness. Medical emergencies. Natural disaster. Your donation helps children when they need it most..
The Dominican Republic’s warm climate and pristine beaches have made it popular with sun-seeking tourists. It is also home to impoverished communities that struggle with gang activity and unsafe water. Compassion-assisted children experience these realities daily. But at the Compassion center, there is hope.
53YEARS SERVING THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Four boys take a break from playing and sit against a fence with their basketballs.
A girl smiles in front of a rainbow-painted wall in her classroom.
A group of children play baseball in the street.
A group of children smile and wave outside of their child development center.
A boy smiles in front of a baseball field.
A group of children laugh together at their child development center.
Children read their Bibles together at their child development center.
A mother smiles and holds her baby.
Teenage boys eat a nutritious meal together at their child development center.
A boy shoots a basketball.
Issue: In urban areas like Santiago, youth delinquency has become a major challenge. The Dominican Republic faces crime-related challenges including gang activity, robbery, high murder rates and drug trafficking.
Response: At Compassion student centers, young people participate in social clubs built around interests like sports, arts and reading. Vocational training for skills including technology, welding and carpentry also provides constructive opportunities apart from gang activity.
Prayer Point: Pray that youth will discover their identity and purpose through Jesus Christ and be drawn to the positive atmosphere of the center rather than the negative influence of gangs.
Teenagers receive vocational training for skills to improve their future.
Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in the Dominican Republic.
Music and dance are very important to Dominican culture. Two of the most popular types of music are merengue and bachata — both perfect for dancing!
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Official Name: Dominican Republic
Form of Government: Presidential republic
Capital: Santo Domingo
Official Language: Spanish
Currency: Dominican peso
Area: 18,791 square miles (48,670 square kilometers)
The island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic forms the eastern two-thirds and Haiti forms the rest) was originally occupied by the Tainos, an Arawak-speaking people. The Tainos welcomed Columbus in his first voyage in 1492, but subsequent colonizers were brutal, reducing the Taino population from about 1 million to about 500 in 50 years. To ensure adequate labor for plantations, the Spanish brought African slaves to the island in 1503.
In the next century, French settlers occupied the western end of the island, which Spain ceded to France in 1697, and which, in 1804, became the Republic of Haiti. The Haitians conquered the whole island in 1822 and held it until 1844, when forces led by Juan Pablo Duarte, the hero of Dominican independence, drove them out and established the Dominican Republic as an independent state. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire; in 1865, independence was restored. Economic difficulties, the threat of European intervention and ongoing internal disorders led to a U.S. occupation in 1916 and the establishment of a military government in the Dominican Republic. The occupation ended in 1924, with a democratically elected Dominican government.
From 1930 to 1947 (and indirectly until 1961), Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, one of the country's most corrupt rulers, used murder and torture to suppress any opposition to his autocratic style of ruling. Thousands of innocent Dominicans were murdered during his rule. He was assassinated in 1961.
The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10 percent enjoys nearly 40 percent. High unemployment and underemployment remain challenging.
The World Factbook, 2014.
The Dominican Republic has many poets, essayists and novelists, including former president Juan Bosch. Architecture is another important part of Dominican culture, such as the colonial Spanish buildings in Santo Domingo.
Dominican folk music features instruments such as the maracas, tambora (small drum), accordion and the guirra (a percussion instrument scraped with a metal rod). The national dance is the méringue.
Spanish: Hola, ¿cómo estás? (Hi, how are you?), Bien, gracias. (Fine, thanks.), Me llamo ... (My name is ...), ¿Cómo te llamas? (What's your name?)
Sports & Games
Dominicans love baseball. Many professional players in the United States come from the Dominican Republic.
“El Pañuelo” (The Handkerchief) and “El Juego de la Silla” (The Game of the Chair) are two popular games Dominican children play.
A dish of beans and rice is traditionally called "the Dominican flag" because it is the basic Dominican meal.
The typical school year runs from September to June. Education is compulsory from age 7 through 14 and there is a shortage of teachers, facilities and funds.
For decades, Dominican farming families have been moving into the cities. These Dominicans are poor and not trained for different types of work, which makes it difficult for them to provide their children with an education that will allow them to compete in the local work market.
Those who are educated and receive specific training get the most desirable jobs. Therefore, education has become more valued in the last 25 years.
To the Dominican family, payment for education represents a significant percentage of their budget, an amount that increases with high-level education. Providing their children with a profession is one of the most desired goals for parents, but the high costs of an education often make this goal impossible.
Dominican employers have expressed two priorities regarding the profile of university graduates: They should speak foreign languages and be able to do interdisciplinary jobs. These requirements leave many out of the competition.
There is no state religion. The government signed a concordat in 1954 with the Vatican, extending to the Catholic Church special privileges not granted to other religions. These include the use of public funds to underwrite some church expenses, such as rehabilitation of church facilities and a complete waiver of customs duties when importing goods.
Religious groups are required to register with the government to operate legally. Such groups other than the Catholic Church must request exemptions from customs duties from the office of the presidency. This process can be lengthy; however, requests are usually granted.
Currently, Roman Catholic weddings are the only religious marriage ceremonies that the government legally recognizes, although civil unions are legal as well.
A 2000 law requires that the Bible be read in public schools but it is not enforced. Private schools are not obliged to include Bible reading among their weekly activities.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Duarte Day: Jan. 26 — Celebration honoring the father of the country.
Independence Day: Feb. 27 — The festival of carnaval coincides with Independence Day and is the most colorful festival of the year. For Catholics, it is it a time of feasting before the time of fasting known as Lent.
Labor Day: May 1
Las Navidades: Dec. 15 - Jan. 6 — A festive time when families get together. On Christmas Eve, families attend midnight mass and return home to eat their Christmas dinner. Jan. 6 commemorates the Three Kings who came to worship Jesus. The night before, children place boxes of grass under their beds for the Three Kings' camels. After the camels have eaten all the grass, the Kings leave presents in the empty boxes.
Compassion has been working in the Dominican Republic since 1970. These Dominican Republic facts and statistics provide a good picture of the reality of poverty and how child sponsorship through Compassion is making a difference.
Poverty is a problem in the country of the Dominican Republic but with your support, Compassion is working to change this. The Dominican Republic facts tell a difficult story, but Compassion is bringing hope in the midst of the difficulties. Our programs are changing the statistics one child at a time.
Don't let the hopelessness of poverty overwhelm you. Donate to children in the Dominican Republic!