Los Jardines del Norte, Santo Domingo
Drawn by the promise of a better life in the city than the countryside, families arrive in Santo Domingo almost daily. SOS Children's Villages work to ensure that such families stay together.
Santo Domingo de Guzman is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. It has almost doubled in size since 2003, with the population growing from just over 2 million in 2003 to a current population of nearly 4 million.
Dreams die in the big city
Migrants from the countryside flock to the city, drawn by the shopping malls and luxury homes in the commercial heart of the city. With poor education and no vocational training, they frequently end up in the slums in the suburbs of Santo Domingo. Many more come from Haiti, which is the other half of the same island, in search of a better life away from their home country.
Destitute families often believe that their children can do better for themselves elsewhere so an industry of child trafficking and exploitation has emerged. Children are sent to get a better life but often end up in domestic servitude, working on farms or as prostitutes.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
Due to the rapid population growth of Santo Domingo, the national government's major priority is in breaking the cycle of poverty. Families arrive in search of a better life but often have to send their children to work to help the family survive. This impacts on the long term future of the working children, who miss out on education and cannot break the cycle of poverty - something they might do with an education.
What we do in Los Jardines del Norte
Hurricanes frequently hit the Dominican Republic as they pass through the Caribbean, and SOS Children's Villages are always there to provide emergency relief to families who have lost everything after the storms.
Our SOS Children's Village in Los Jardines del Norte has been in place since 1981, and is the first programme we set up in the country. There are sixteen SOS families which look after up to 160 children who are no longer able to live with their parents. Many are orphans or have been abandoned. Each family of SOS brothers and sisters is lovingly cared for by an SOS Mother. Whilst living in the SOS Village, children attend school in the local community and develop social networks in the area.
As they grow up, young people need to live more independently. We have an SOS youth programme which offers support in shared, supported accommodation in Santo Domingo to young people while they undertake further education or training. Trained youth counsellors give advice and support to the young adults as they make the decisions critical to getting the best possible start in life.
Children in Santo Domingo are given the chance of a new life when they join an SOS family. Sponsor one of these children today, and watch as they grow up and flourish.