When you think of the Dominican Republic, most of us think of towering resorts nestled on white sand beaches overlooking clear emerald waters. Hammocks beneath the shade of palm trees and pina coladas. Simply put, paradise. A representation of an escape from the hustle and bustle of work deadlines, getting the kids to school and everything that accompanies living the American Dream.
But for thousands of local children, this is not at all their reality of living in the Dominican.
Miles away from the tourist traps and white sand beaches of Boca Chica, hidden away as if it is something to be ashamed of sits Pasitos De Jesus. A shelter housing 48 girls ages 2 to 18. The shelter is far from paradise. Sitting behind a high concrete block fence with rolled barbed wire across the top, it resembles a prison more than a children’s home.
Google Street View of Pasitos De Jesus
Though they try to make the best of their situation, upon entering the home it’s hard to not immediately see the needs. Broken furniture and beds, no toys and many bathrooms without running water due to needing repair. With the lack of available resources to maintain the shelter’s facilities, there are issues with running water. The few clothes the girls have are difficult to wash as there is no washing machine and clothes must be washed by hand. With only 2 caretakers for nearly 50 children and little access to running water, keeping clothes clean is a challenge.
With most of the beds in disrepair, the girls are either in danger of injury while sleeping or are forced to sleep on the floor.
In the Dominican, the average year-round temperature is 80 degrees + and the average humidity is 72%. The shelter however, only has the resources to use electricity during the night. Running fans in an effort to try and make sleeping more comfortable. As soon as morning comes, they must shut the electricity down.
Without consistent electricity, there are no appliances. No refrigerator, no microwave, no stove. Without refrigeration, the girls have no access to fresh healthy sources of protein such as cheese, milk, eggs or meat.
In addition, simple things we take for granted are also not luxuries enjoyed by the young girls in the home such as TVs, phones or internet access.
The only time the girls experience anything outside the walls surrounding the home, is walking to school and back. However, schooling is made more difficult due to the lack of basic school supplies such as pencils, notebooks and rulers. Not to mention the absence of laptops or tablets with internet access.
The needs are extensive, but with your help, we can dramatically change kids' lives!