Where we work

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean with the largest population. More than a third of the Dominican Republic lives in poverty, with rural areas most susceptible to extreme poverty.

The highest incidences of poverty and extreme poverty occur in the Dominican-Haitian border regions. Our sister organization, Bridges to Community in New York, began working in the DR in 2010. We currently partner with communities in the southwest province of San Juan: Derrumbadero, Caimonial, and La Guama. This region is close to the border with Haiti, and tucked into a beautiful landscape of mountains and rivers.

Isolated from tourism and jobs, their land plagued by deforestation, many are left without a sufficient way to make a living resulting in many adults leaving their families and homes, seeking employment opportunities in other parts of the country or in the United States.

The migration of the working age adults causes an immense community drain and leaves many children with little supervision, few role models and financially struggling households.  Fifty-nine percent of these households earn a little over $100 a month according to a study conducted by the Latin American Society of Social Sciences.

Growing up in these unstable environments, it is easy for these young people to fall victim to the pitfalls of adolescence.  Problems such as alcoholism, teen pregnancy and child labor exist in these regions of the Dominican Republic.

Our programs make a real impact in the lives of Dominicans by helping them access to improved schools, strong youth development programs, better sanitation, and a sustainable environmental plan for the future of their communities.  For example, in 2013 Bridges to Community completed a much needed 2 classroom addition to the existing school in Derrumbadero.  This moved students who were holding classes outside, to be able to study inside no regardless of the weather.  It also made the school eligible to hire 3 new teachers and be a site for the National College Exam.

In 2014, Bridges completed a one classroom addition to the elementary school in Caimonial.  This allowed an additional 30 students to remain in the community and not have to travel the 3 kilometers to the school in Derrumbadero.

In 2015, Bridges completed a Community Youth Center in Derrumbadero, which includes a library, computer room, and classroom, providing a safe learning and recreational environment for the 1,200 plus youth residing in the area. Prior to the Youth Center, these youth spoke about simply wanting to stay alive and now they are speaking of becoming doctors and lawyers, are taking on leadership roles in their communities and are spearheading community projects.

You too can spark a change similar to this by simply taking part in any of the Bridges’ wide range of volunteering projects in the DR, including home repair, reforestation, public health projects and activities involving youth leadership training.