Empowering Girls to be Change-Makers
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The Mariposa DR Foundation in the Dominican Republic works with young girls from ages seven to 19 on a dual mission: to provide the girls with a holistic education and the motivation to be empowered change-makers in their communities to break the generational poverty cycle. At the Mariposa Center for Girls, I teach English to first through sixth graders with the support of an InterExchange Christianson Fellowship.
I’m also involved with two special programs for the older girls. One program entails weekly excursions with eighth graders to Puerto Plata, a nearby large city, to visit health centers and discuss different resources available for women experiencing abuse, sexual violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. The other is an intercultural exchange program between Mariposa and a sister school in the United States where we discuss Dominican culture.
Outside of the duties that I’m directly responsible for, I’ve been a part of so many amazing opportunities that speak to the limitless thinking that fosters a supportive learning environment. Some of my favorites include Health Week, when doctors came to the Center to provide check-ups and follow-ups; Border of Lights, in which eighth and ninth graders commemorated the Parsley Massacre of 1937 and discussed Haitian and Dominican relations today; and a Santo Domingo fundraising event where one of our graduating students was awarded a scholarship to Altos de Chavon, one of the most prestigious art schools in the Caribbean.
I’m looking forward to continuing the year with Mariposa and finding ways to create sustainable programs in English, literacy, and character development.
Separate from Mariposa, I worked on a pilot program called InnoBatey with Julio, a friend from Batey Libertad who lives in Cabarete and works at DREAM Project, a non-profit providing job training and life skills development for young adults, ages 18 to 27, in the Batey community. Julio designed a four-module program to help with goal-setting development, professional writing, entrepreneurship, and public speaking. I designed and taught the writing portion and traveled to the Batey four weekends throughout October to teach the class. It’s been amazing to see Julio’s drive for the program and its participants, and to see someone from the Batey bring high-quality programming to the community.
I’m so grateful for the InterExchange Foundation for supporting this opportunity to further my work in the Dominican Republic. I look forward to the growth in myself and the communities in which I work that I know these next few months will bring.
Keara volunteered in the Dominican Republic with the help of a Christianson Fellowship, from the InterExchange Foundation.
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