Impact Dominican Republic works in partnership with Lighthouse Projects in the Los Alcarrizos community in the Dominican Republic. Los Alcarrizos has a growing population of more than 320,000 people, most of whom live in poor conditions with little infrastructure. Thousands of children receive no education because of extremely limited space in the public schools. To address this, iTeams Canada partnered with Juventud para Cristo (YFC) in the development and expansion of the Lighthouse School, constructing a primary and secondary school, as well as a vocational training centre.
Today the school has over 1100 students in pre-school to grade 12 receiving an education. The vocational training centre currently teaches valuable skills to nearly 300 students in English, business management, computers, and other technical fields. To date, more than 3000 people have benefited from this initiative.
Villa Altagracia is a newer community which has no access to clean water and there are a lack of educational opportunities available for its residents. Impact Dominican Republic has begun to work in this community, using the lessons it learned in Los Alcarrizos to bring transformation to Villa Altagracia as well.
While Los Alcarrizos is of course years ahead of Villa Altagracia developmentally, there is evidence of change already taking shape in that community too. The biggest project currently taking place in the community of Villa Altagracia is the construction of a water sanitation plant, which will provide clean drinking water to over 45,000 people. The hope is that this will provide the basis for more change in the community, as the work being done in Los Alcarrizos all started with a similar water sanitation unit being installed over two decades ago.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Lighthouse School in Los Alcarrizos
Lighthouse School currently educates over 1100 students in both the primary and secondary levels. The vocational school continues to provide valuable training in English, business management, accounting, computer science, mechanics and other subjects to over 400 students of all ages.
Feeding Program in Los Alcarrizos
The feeding program at the Lighthouse School continues to be a success and there is the desire to expand the program even more. Between July and December 2018, there were roughly 48 children receiving a balanced breakfast before school five days per week that contains a protein, a fruit or vegetable, and a carbohydrate. In many instances this food is the most reliable source of nutrition for these children and it gives them the health and energy to succeed in school.
Impact Dominican Republic has been planning and meeting with Villa Altagracia community members for several years with the hopes of creating transformational development projects there. Now we have broken ground on some of the first projects: a water purification system, a basketball court that replaced a garbage dump and a rehabilitated sports field. These projects offer dignity and hope to the people of Villa Altagracia. The water treatment plant is based on the same model that has been so successful in Los Alcarrizos. After it is constructed, families will be able to buy affordable and clean water and all the profits from the plant will be spent on charitable activities within the community.
The rehabilitation of sports fields provides Villa Altagracia with safe and clean spaces to meet for the constructive outlet of sports. Through organizing sports games and events for both adults and children on these fields, the community of Villa Altagracia will learn to love their neighbours and interact more with others. Impact Teams and local construction workers have been busy on both the construction of the water treatment plant and the sports fields. The water treatment plant is underway with the walls constructed, bathrooms, and the ground workings of the placement of the tank. The project is in need of funding for the roof to be able to continue construction of the plant. Impact teams are working with the Lighthouse Projects for the continuation of the Water purification plant development.
The Forge Interns who visited in October conducted a census in the community of Villa Altagracia to better understand the age demographics of the area and their opinions on what they would most like to see changed in their community.
According to the results of the census, the largest age demographic within the community is ages 13-25, representing approximately 30% of the population (taken from a sample group). This age range aligns well with the need for the vocational school in the area to equip youth and young adults with a skill set that enables them to work. The results also indicated that the greatest need in the community is for constructed streets for safe and clean passage in the community, as well as for more jobs, and more bathrooms in the community. Currently the community stands at a 75% unemployment rate, and there are only 5% of homes in the community that have any form of bathroom or latrine.
Stories of Transformation
One of our Forge interns was able to return to the Lighthouse Project after had been there 14 years previously on a trip with her church. She had the opportunity to visit with Andrea, who she had met 14 years ago. Andrea has gone through her entire education with the Lighthouse Project from the age of 4, and is now graduating — continuing her education by studying medicine!
Andrea shared that she participated in the breakfast program throughout her entire schooling, which helped her feel taken care of and gave her good nutrition to help her in school. Andrea has felt supported and encouraged to do well in school and help others as she has been helped.
Andrea’s younger brother Adrien is also attending the school and is also involved in the feeding program. Both siblings agree that the school has given them encouragement and hope for their value and potential for their future.
Felix Acosta and Christian Santiago were able to raise awareness of the work being done by Impact Dominican Republic when they visited several supporters and churches in Canada in the Fall of 2018.
Several Impact Teams are scheduled for the early part of 2019.