WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
About one in five Dominicans lives in poverty and almost one in ten in extreme poverty. Amongst the poorer families, the numbers of children tend to be higher, resulting in many unfortunate youngsters being turned out onto the streets and being exploited in a range of ways. Chronic malnutrition, abuse and multiple health problems are common. Those who are most vulnerable include disabled children and those of Haitian origin, many who are trafficked into the Dominican Republic in the first place. Many become resigned to a life of prostitution and poverty. It is essential that the situation is recognised and tackled – orphanages and schools here are hugely under-funded and often close due to lack of human resources. By working with the children you can make an immeasurable difference to their lives, by giving them the self belief to achieve their goals and strive to leave hardship and poverty behind.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The kinds of activities that you could be involved with throughout the project is very much up to you and how much you use your initiative. The most successful volunteers are typically those who remain flexible and are as proactive as possible. At the same time, if you have a particular interest or preference then your local coordinator will be happy to help you focus your time in that area. Some of the areas where you could get involved include helping out with the daily duties of running the orphanage, spending time with the children playing and creating fun and interesting activities for them, helping out with kitchen duties, teaching in the school and running a range of extracurricular sporting activities to get the children active. The orphanage will be happy for you to simply get involved in as much as you feel comfortable with and let you decide your own daily schedule as your help will be appreciated in most areas.
In your first few days you will receive an orientation introduction to the area and the volunteer work by your host. Whatever role you take on you will be giving disadvantaged children a better start in life. The children really benefit greatly from this rich opportunity for cultural exchange and your involvement will make a real and lasting difference to their lives. You will be an integral part of the project as it strives to offer skills development and environmental education to the people who need it the most.
Your activity programme will usually run five days a week, mornings and afternoons, with evenings free to enjoy as you wish, and will include a wide variety of fun activities. You will be so much more than a teacher to them, as their mentor and friend you will lead them in a sports schedule of your choice designed to be enjoyable and inspiring. Whilst working on this project, you are encouraged to be creative and bring your own unique skills and personality to enliven and enrich the experience of the kids in your care.