SANTO DOMINGO — Located in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is home to nearly 11 million individuals. Despite being vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, the country has experienced one of the strongest economic growths in the region in 25 years.
In the first quarter of 2017, the economy expanded by 5.2 percent; this growth helped lower the number of Dominicans living in poverty to approximately 30 percent. While the country has seen significant improvements in their economic wellbeing, social spending remains low compared to other countries in the region. Many people are in need of greater access to services such as healthcare and education; thus, three organizations have been able to provide significant humanitarian aid to the Dominican Republic.
Project HOPE has been operating in the Dominican Republic since 1996. In partnership with the Dominican Association of the Order of Malta (ADOM), the organization works extensively to improve the health of women and children. In 2002, the organization opened its first women and children’s health clinic, followed by another clinic in 2003. Today, both clinics are entirely self-reliant, while Project Hope simply provides technical oversight. To date, these two clinics alone have provided more than two million medical services to more than 100,000 women and children.
In 2004, the Dominican Republic experienced devastating flooding. Project HOPE responded by sending over a million dollars in medicines and medical supplies. Several years later, Project HOPE also sent vaccines worth three million, in hopes of providing doses of Tetanus and Diphtheria.
In 2014, Project HOPE was chosen to implement a project called “Alerta Joven.” The project itself was financed by USAID with the goal of creating a security network for young people in situations of violence and crime in the Dominican Republic. Project HOPE was able to impact more than 4,200 individuals by providing education and job opportunities to young adults who are at risk for exploitation. The humanitarian aid to the Dominican Republic provided through Project HOPE helped millions of people in need.
Dream Project is an organization that is committed to improving the livelihood of children in the Dominican Republic by providing access to education. The school system in the Dominican Republic produces some of the lowest educational outcomes in Latin America, and the Dream Project seeks to increase these rates. Its programs begin with early childhood programs that are geared towards the needs of children between the ages of two and seven.
One of the first steps in the Dream Project’s educational program is documentation. In the Dominican Republic, nearly one in five children under five do not have a birth certificate. The LUCEROS Documentation program helps families gain access to legal documentation, and in turn, sets children up for success in education. To date, over 250 documentation cases have been resolved and nearly 700 students are enrolled in its preschool and elementary school.
Dream Project also focuses its efforts on holistic youth development for individuals between the ages of 12 to 25. This program is focused on several key areas: sexual and reproductive health, job training, life skills, entrepreneurship, university scholarships and music education. Approximately one-third of all Dominican youth are unemployed, and the program called “A Ganar” works to equip youth with job training and life skills. Dream Project also works in collaboration with donors to provide qualified students with full or partial scholarships to universities.
The Dream Project has been able to impact thousands of individuals by providing humanitarian aid to the Dominican Republic.
Pujols Family Foundation
The founder of the Pujols Family Foundation, Albert Pujols spent his first sixteen years of life in the Dominican Republic. Today, he now plays professional baseball for the Los Angeles Angels. The Pujols Family Foundation’s goal is to improve the health and quality of life for thousands living in poverty, by providing health care, mentorship, and education. The foundation works in seven areas throughout the Dominican Republic, with full medical teams consisting of doctors, dentists, optometrists, pediatricians, and a full pharmacy. Over the past decade, over 18,000 individuals (often in slums) have been served.
The Pujols Family Foundation also has programs that include a baseball league. The goal of the league is to provide mentorship to young boys. The foundation seeks to instill and encourage young boys to become responsible husbands, fathers, and community leaders.
The Pujols Family Foundation’s continual humanitarian aid to the Dominican Republic has helped to improve thousands of lives of those living in slums throughout the country.
The humanitarian aid to the Dominican Republic has had profound impacts on the lives of millions in need — many individuals have received adequate medical care, as well as access to education. Despite these organizations’ success, many still live in poverty; as a result, the country is still in need of local and global support.
– Sarah Jane Fraser