Los Mina, Santo Domingo
In search of better opportunities, many people flock to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Sadly, they often find extreme poverty and hardship in the city.
SOS Children's Villages try to intervene to help break the cycle of poverty and provide a better life for families who might otherwise not have such hope.
Families living in poverty
Santo Domingo de Guzman is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Due to the wealth of the shopping malls and luxury housing developments, rural poor are drawn to seek a better life in the city and its population has grown from just over 2 million to 3.8 million in the last ten years as a result.
Rural migrants who arrive in search of fortune frequently don't manage to achieve their dreams. With little or no education they cannot work in the industries that the middle classes do so well in, and frequently end up in extreme poverty in the slums surrounding the city.
Poverty affects people on many levels - there are high rates of pregnancy among young women, drug misuse problems, and child exploitation. Families seek better lives for their children and are led to believe that others can do this for them. Many of these children don't get better lives, just ones of domestic servitude, child labour, begging or prostitution.
Child labour damages long-term prospects
Urban poverty has become one of the biggest issues for the Dominican government. Over 60% of the urban population live in poverty, missing out on things such as sanitation, food and healthcare.
Children of struggling families frequently go to work to help their parents. In doing so, they do not attend school, which is a key way to break the cycle of poverty. A short term fix for the parents seriously impacts the long term prospects of the child.
How do we help children in Los Minas?
We set up the Los Minas Children's Village in Santo Domingo in 1985. There are 17 SOS families in the Village, who look after up to 170 children in a loving, family environment and are cared for by SOS Mothers. These children are no longer able to live with their own parents, and many have been orphaned. Whilst in the Village children attend school in the local community, forming networks that serve them well into adulthood, and playing an active role in the community.
As they grow up, young people engage with the SOS youth programme in Santo Domingo. This involves living in shared, supported accommodation while attending further education or training. They are given guidance by qualified youth counsellors as they have to make the decisions faced in becoming adults.
There is an SOS vocational training centre in Santo Domingo which trains future SOS Mothers and SOS staff in all the skills necessary to guide the children and families we care for to the best possible future.
The Dominican Republic is often hit by hurricanes in late summer and autumn. We provide emergency relief to families impacted by the storms, helping the government cope with the losses faced by its most precarious citizens.
SOS Children 's Villages offers a hopeful future to the youth of Los Mina. When you become a child sponsor, you give the most vulnerable children support and a chance to thrive.