This summer has been full of many great accomplishments and some challenges. We have seen remarkable personal growth in all of our girls and have had the privilege of working with so many talented and dedicated volunteers. Summer programs were in full effect from June 8th to July 30th, offering more than 20 different activities for all 150 girls. From theater to pottery, swimming, reading, math, gardening, sports, surfing, sewing, kayaking, hiking, field trips and more, our girls were extremely busy! In addition to all of the group activities, private one on one tutoring sessions were available for the last three weeks of the program to ensure that all of the girls who need extra help are ready to keep up when the school year begins.
Keeping the older girls, ages 15 and up, engaged is always one of our greatest challenges. It is much easier to get younger girls to participate in group activities, but as we all know, things get a bit more difficult as they grow up. Our staff and volunteers work extremely hard with our older girls to ensure that they are able to pursue their individual passions and discover their strengths. The older girls were able to participate in an urban art workshop, culinary classes, book clubs, mediation workshops and intense English courses throughout the entire summer. More often than not, these specialized activities are a great success, however sometimes we struggle with finding the time, resources and talent to do it all. Most importantly, we continue to try new things, listen, and learn from our successes and our failures. We listen to each individual girl and do our best to create a unique plan for her that will keep her motivated and attending regularly.
The summer ended on a high note with the 2nd Annual Mariposa Surf Competition where 20 of our girls participated in a spirited, healthy competition. All of the girls, and many community members and partners came out to the beach that day to cheer them on. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, there were virtually no Dominican or Haitian girls that even knew how to swim, let alone compete in water sports. Now, we're hosting our very own girls' water sport event! 16 year old Yafreisy says, "With Mariposa I learned to swim and now I love to be out on the ocean. It's the only place I can feel completely calm and free". It's the small wins like this that give us the confidence that what we're doing is working, and that because of our work together, lives are changing. More than anything, we are beyond grateful for your partnership in continuing to serve the girls in our community.
The girls, families, staff and volunteers at The Mariposa DR Foundation
It's been a very exciting Spring at The Mariposa DR Foundation. Joined by some very special local and international guests, we spent an entire week celebrating Earth Day with some spectacular performances, presentations on solar panels and the importance of sustainable energy, and various art projects, all done by our Mariposa girls!
Acclaimed author and Mariposa honorary chairwoman, Julia Alvarez and her family, joined us for the week as volunteers to help with the preparations for the big performance. The girls worked hard preparing costumes and skits on composting, waste and environmental consciousness, crafting costumes made entirely from recycled materials such as newspapers and plastic bottles. The older girls did a presentation on solar energy and what they have learned from the solar panels installed at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Part of the program for the past year has been understanding and explaining how this technology works and how it can benefit the entire community.
The girls performed a series of skits, highlighting the differences between organic and inorganic materials and how we can preserve the earth by reducing our use of inorganic material because it does not decompose quickly and can hurt our natural resources. All of the girls painted ceramic pots filled with dirt and seeds to bring home to their families so that they will all have a plant growing in their home to reflect on, and be proud of what they have learned.
A returning volunteer, Tori, who joined us for the festivities wrote in her blog "I was lucky enough to sit in on one of their renewable energy classes and saw how much passion and determination these girls have. The Mariposa girls know their potential; it is clear by how they talk about wanting to go to university to be pediatricians, seismologists, flight attendants and a whole host of ideas. The older girls have really taken to this renewable energy course, as it offers possibilities for sustainable energy in their town, which so desperately needs it. They have also been able to see the positive effects of the solar panels in their own Center on a daily basis, so this develops their interest in bringing sustainable energy to Cabarete.
Thank you for supporting our passion for environmental education!
The girls, families, volunteers and staff at The Mariposa DR Foundation
We're excited to be able to share with you the result of a very special project that the Mariposa girls worked on last summer. For two weeks in July 2014, a small group of our oldest girls participated in a Beat Making Lab with Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin (www.beatmakinglab.com). The Beat Making Lab helps to unleash the creativity in adolescents through intensive training in an electronic music studio small enought to fit in a backpack. Equipped with a laptop, microphone and some software, the Mariposa Girls set out to write their own songs, make some beats and film their very on music video.
We're excited to share the result of their hard work with you. If you ever wondered what empowerment really looks like, watch this video, you won't be disappointed.
Mariposa Girls Music Video - Que Lo Que
16 year old Lola says, "Music has always been a love in my life. I never thought I would have the chance to make my own and now I'm a rapper. I can't wait to make more songs and I love the studio". Music is a powerful force. For youth, it has the power to build academic and social skills, foster creativity and teamwork and help them further develop self-confidence and self-esteem.
We hope you enjoy the video and we would like to thank you for your ongoing support. Giving our girls the chance to do things like this is only possible because of thoughtful, generous people like you. Thank you.
The fall has been action packed. Programs are in full swing and the girls have 34 different activities to choose from! At the end of October we hosted our 5th annual health fair. This year we were able to do 4 days full of eye exams, physicals, mental health evaluations, dental visits and more. We welcomed volunteer physicians so that we could expand the services to provide free pap smears, present birth control options and offer free HIV testing and counseling to all community members. Our volunteers saw more than 400 people in 4 days!
We work hard to create strong connections with volunteers, community resources and local NGO's to ensure that all of our girls' needs are met. This is especially important when it comes to their health. Our annual health fair is an opportunity for girls and their families to get their basic care needs met, learn about where to go for certain things in their community and how to take care of themselves in the long term. Empowering girls to be in charge of their own well-being is critical to our success. Healthy, happy girls stay in school.
This program is extremely important for parents as well. Maria, who has five girls in our program says "I am raising 5 girls and sometimes it is hard and expensive to make sure that they all go to the doctor. The health fair at Mariposa is great for my family because we can all come and make sure we are staying healthy, and if there is a problem, they can help us find where to go." Teaching girls how to navigate resources, and engaging the entire family, positions them to become leaders in their homes and their community.
These accomplishments are only possible because of thoughtful, generous people like you and we thank you for your ongoing support.
It's the first day of school this week for our youngest Mariposas! The opening of the public school in our town is delayed for an entire month due to construction, but thanks to you, our girls will not miss a day. For two years our scholarship program has consisted of sending all of our high school students to CADIN, a private school in the neighboring town of Islabon. This year we were able to expand the program and send 100 girls to three of our partner schools, CORAL, CADIN and 3 Mariposas Montessori.
We invest a tremendous amount of resources in sending our girls to private schools because we want them to have access to the best educational opportunities available. In the public school system, the classrooms are overcrowded and there are not enough teachers and staff to give each child the individual and small group attention they need and deserve. Girls are even more likely to get lost and fall through the cracks. By establishing partnerships with smaller, private institutions, we can provide each and every one of our girls with a higher quality education, more individual attention and instill them with pride.
At CORAL there are currently 225 students in K-9th grade of which 70 are Mariposa girls. Because we make up 30% of the student body, it has been beneficial for both the girls and the school to form a working partnership with the director to ensure that our girls are getting the support they need to achieve success. Not to mention, the parents of our girls are absolutely thrilled! Herodita, mother and aunt to three girls who are receiving scholarships to CORAL in the Mariposa program says, "I dropped out of school and never learned to read. I worry because I can't help them and I am afraid they will drop out too. With Mariposa, the girls in my family have the extra support and I know they will do much better".
Summer is coming to an end and we are so excited to kick off what is sure to be a great school year! Giving 100 girls the opportunity to go to private school is only possible because of thoughtful, generous people like you and we can't thank you enough for your ongoing support. We look forward to updating you on their progress soon.
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