SOS Children in Dominican Republic
Overview of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, and suffers from a huge gap between the rich and the poor, with the richest being the white descendants of Spanish settlers, who own most of the land, and the poorest comprising people of African descent.
Around 27 percent of the population live below the poverty line and many children under the age of five still die from malnutrition, gastrointestinal disease and pneumonia, despite improvements by the government in primary health care.
Although education is free, many children are not able to attend school because they have to contribute to the family income.
Our Work in the Dominican Republic
Los Jardines del Norte
We began our work in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s when the first SOS Children's Village was built in Santo Domingo in the suburb of Los Jardines del Norte. The Village has 15 family houses and an SOS Nursery which is also open to children from families in the neighbourhood.
We opened our second community in the Dominican Republic in 1984, also in Santo Domingo, in the densely populated district of Los Mina, close to a large slum area. The Village has seventeen family houses and an SOS Nursery. Because of the lack of state schools in Los Mina, a secondary School was built in 1988. This was extended in 1996 and can now accommodate over 400 pupils. An SOS Medical Centre provides medical, particularly maternity, and dental care for over 20,000 patients a year.
In their teens, SOS children often move into youth houses where they take their first guided steps towards independence, with the security of the family support. In Santo Domingo there are four SOS Youth Homes, two for boys and two for girls, many of whom are completing their education or undertaking vocational training.
Santiago de los Cabalerros
The third SOS Children’s Village opened in Santiago de los Caballeros, the provincial capital in the north of the country, in 2003. The Village has 15 family houses which are home for 145 orphaned and abandoned children. There is also an SOS Nursery School for 70 children and an SOS Primary and Secondary School for 370 children. Like all SOS Schools these are for the children of the local community as well as children from the SOS Children’s Village.
Life in SOS Children’s Villages Dominican Republic: Who I am today
“It was a wonderful experience to belong to the SOS Children’s Village. There I learnt the meaning of having a loving mother and brothers and sisters." Ana Victoria Cruz lost her own mother when she was very small. For her, there is nothing like the experience of growing up in the SOS Children’s Village. "I thank SOS Children's Villages for who I am today", she says, and adds: "I thank God that I belong to the SOS family”.
Initially, living in the SOS Children's Village was not easy for Ana. Although Ana and her brothers and sisters met their father every weekend, it was painful to be separated from him. “However, my SOS mother managed to win me over and my sadness disappeared”. Ana also had to get used to the new house and to living with a total of ten 'brothers and sisters'. Ana tells us: "Our conflicts were normal, just like in any other family. What made us quarrel most," says Ana, laughing, "was how long each of us took in the bathroom, because there were so many of us."
Ana loved watching television – preferably with her brothers and sisters. When asked about her other leisure time activities she answers "studying". Later in her life this paid off when she obtained a degree in accounting.
Ana is 35 years old now and is married with a five-year-old daughter. She is well aware that there is a relationship between her life in the SOS Children's Village and the way she lives today. "Of course the SOS Children's Village influenced my relationships and my family life! In the SOS Children's Village I learnt valuable things that I can pass on to my own daughter now that I have a family of my own, such as the values that have left an impression on me.
Ana tells us that the village director "treated us like his own children. He was a great person and an example to us". Ana describes her SOS mother as loving and caring, and adds: "She taught us many things which I now know and appreciate".
Ana Victoria summarizes her life in the SOS Children's Village: "My life in the SOS Children's Village was an experience I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. It was wonderful, and if I had to repeat it, I definitely would."
Asociación de Aldeas Infantiles SOS Dominicanas, INC
esq. Hermann Gmeiner
Santo Domingo, D.N.
Los Jardines del Norte
Postal address: Apartado postal 1392
Santo Domingo, D.N.
Tel: +1/809/56 58902, +1/809/56 78986
Fax: +1/809/56 35991