ABOUT THE COUNTRY
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of a shared island with Haiti. The island was originally founded as the first Spanish colony of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, but it wasn’t until 1844 that the Dominican Republic became its own nation. Santo Domingo is the capital city, located on the southern coast. It is the largest city and port in the country, and it is said that Christopher Columbus’ remains are located in one of the city’s cathedrals. Today, the Dominican Republic is a democratic nation, but the people first had to endure a long string of repressive governments. It is a highly agricultural country, with the main crops being sugarcane, coffee, tobacco and cocoa. However, as tourism grows it is challenging agriculture for the #1 spot in the economic sector. Sadly, there is a high rate for unemployment and income inequality – the poorest half of the country’s people hold less than a fifth of the money.
VisionTrust Dominicana has projects in the inner-city slums of the capital city where children face drugs, gangs and prostitution; in a rural rice-farming community with no schools or sanitary water; on the Haitian border where few jobs exist; in the mountains with challenges like malnutrition, parasites and lack of medical care; orphan homes for abandoned and abused children, some who were sold for sex in the streets of Santo Domingo; and a deaf school where “throw-away” children are introduced to the Gospel for the first time.
The goal of these programs is to help children live for God and love others. The local Dominican staff does this through after-school Learning Centers, Schools, and Transitional Homes for children from infants to young adults. At each project children learn about the love of God and are provided with a quality education, tutoring, food, clean water and medical care.
Meet the Kids
MEET OUR LOCAL HERO
Nelson (Pablo Paulino) grew up in a poor neighborhood as the oldest of four children. Through trials and years of working to help his parents pay for his education, he graduated from high school and college. In 2001 he joined the VisionTrust team as the administrator of Grace School in Herrera, and is now the Executive Director of VisionTrust Dominicana.