Jul 10, 2018

Mariposa takes on Yoga!

Tree pose
Tree pose

Under a canopy of almond trees, standing one-legged in tree pose, are a group of Mariposas, finding their breathe. Yoga has finally found it’s permanent home here at the Mariposa Foundation.

 

This spring, thanks to the helping hands of multiple visiting volunteer groups, we were able to complete a long-time dream: the construction of a beautiful, recycled yoga deck. Made from repurposed wooden pallets, the yoga deck has already become a cherished space here at the Center.

 

Twice a week, a phenomenal local instructor from Puerto Plata-- Lorena Medina Bournigal-- comes to the center to teach yoga classes to our oldest girls, with a focus on the 7th and 8th graders. Lorena’s position is made possible by the sponsorship of a group of women from the “Yoga Effect” project, who, after taking an interest in the Mariposa mission, donated countless mats in addition to the platform funds.

 

While classes have been occurring since the beginning of the year, the brand new, sustainable platform has enhanced the Mariposa yoga experience tenfold. In the open air, with the blue sky and whispering spiderweb of leaves up above, mindfulness and peaceful reflection are easier to access. In a typical class, the girls do Sun Salutations to warm-up, stretching their hands up and then flowing skillfully into the classic poses-- Downward Dog, Baby Cobra and Child’s Pose, to name just a few. Some of the girls have already become true yoga masters, capable of twisting limbs and focusing breathe into the most advanced of poses.

 

But yoga isn’t the only thing the new platform has been used for! To inaugurate the addition, our annual Earth Day celebration was held here. Theater and musical performances, a Robotics demonstration and a recycled materials fashion show found their way across the stage at the end of April, to the cheers and applause of Mariposa friends, family and supporters in the crowd. A yoga presentation was the grand finale, with the Mariposa yogis demoing the skills and moves they’d learned throughout the semester.

 

The space has also been used for relaxing reading time with the youngest Mariposas, dance parties with the visiting volunteers, and as a quiet writing space for the 9th and 10th graders’ Honors Writing Workshop.

 

Yoga has the power to relieve stress, increase energy and support mindfulness. Our fantastic yoga program and new platform are wonderful examples of what your generous donations look like in effect. Thank you for making this place of peace a reality!

Breathing in
Breathing in
Warrior
Warrior
Jun 12, 2018

Mariposas Rise Up

Romely
Romely

Last August, three Mariposa girls, and new entrants to our Mariposa Volando (Flying Butterfly) Program, boarded an airplane and flew for the first time in their lives. Two girls, Yaritza and Jafreisy, departed for Costa Rica and the third, Romely, for Wales to embark upon a challenging and transformational educational experience at United World Colleges (UWC) in those two countries.

With 17 schools and colleges on 4 continents, UWC is a global movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Yaritza, Jafreisy and Romely were selected by the UWC National Committee in the Dominican Republic to join the UWC movement through the two-year International Baccalaureate Program. Their education is funded through the Mariposa Rise Up Scholars program, a scholarship program spearheaded by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Vanessa Nadal and supported in part through our Global Giving donors. The program supports Mariposa girls who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, compassion for others, and a passion to affect change in their community, to study abroad at United World Colleges.

This year at UWC has been an amazing year for Yaritza, Jafreisy and Romely. All three report that the first trimester was extremely difficult. They had to adapt to a new country, a new culture, and a new academic system--all in English, while making new friends. But they did it!  They improved their English by leaps and bounds, and were challenged in their classes, engaging with students and professors from around the world.

Following her first year at UWC, Romely wants younger Mariposa girls to think of themselves as phoenixes who can rise up even out of the most difficult of situations and with all the challenges they face. Yaritza wants younger Mariposa girls to know that “it doesn’t matter if the whole world says you can’t do it. There will always be people saying you can’t do it. Don’t listen to them. Follow your passion. Follow your heart.”

Following their first year abroad, Yaritza, Jafreisy and Romely are returning to the Dominican Republic and are joining Mariposa staff in leading our annual summer camp for the Mariposa girls. We are excited to have the girls take on leadership roles in our programs. They are real life, role models for our younger girls, and we can’t wait to see them Supporting the World’s Most Powerful Force for Change. These three young women are truly exceptional. They grew up with all of the odds stacked against them and have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. They are living proof that Mariposa’s programs change lives.

Jafreisy
Jafreisy
Yaritza
Yaritza
Apr 13, 2018

Ama Su Madre/Love Your Mother: Mother Earth

Rosa planting five years ago.
Rosa planting five years ago.

“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth”- Maria Montessori

There is definitely something magical about watching a seed turn into a plant and then flower into a fruit. Here at The Mariposa Center for Girls we are convinced that one of the greatest (and most sustainable) gifts that we can give our girls is to provide as many opportunities as we can to connect with the Earth.  One of the most convenient and impactful ways to spark their interest is by having a permaculture garden.

In 2014, when we moved into The Mariposa Center for Girls, we also established our Mama Tingó (Dominican activist and defender of agricultural workers rights) permaculture garden. Led by the thoughtful guidance and support of Karen Silverman, help of long term volunteer, Ada Smith, and permaculture designer, Charlie Durrant, we began the process of turning a field of sand into an abundant food forest. With the collaborative efforts of Mariposa girls, team members, international volunteers and community members alike we have maintained our garden and created a space which throughout the years has served as an experiential learning ground and a powerful tool to inspire environmental stewardship within our community.

Throughout the years, the garden has transformed from a simple permaculture conuco (or traditional farming system in the DR) to a composting hub for the Center. In 2017, a group of volunteers from Lawrence Academy came to establish a composting system on site that would take most of our waste at the Center and transform it in to a rich soil to feed our plants. Part of this process included that all dried leaves collected at the Center are transformed into mulch, a three-part composting system was established and a bathtub worm bin was installed so that the girls could visualize the process easier and watch the earthworm’s breakdown organic materials quickly. During every annual Earth Day celebration, our girls proudly lead garden tours and taught their family members the importance of organic agriculture and composting throughout the day.

Unfortunately, a few months after the Earth Day event in 2017, we were struck by the high winds of Hurricane Irma and Maria. Both hurricanes did significant damage to the canopy layer of our food forest- leaving us with a garden exposed to the elements and a number of trees down.  Most of our Moringa trees fell down and we lost many of the banana trees (that we serve as snacks for our 120+ girls). Though the garden suffered significantly from the storms, the clean-up process proved to be successful in re-growing the trees and plants that we lost and ultimately using the tragedy to teach about climate change.

In March of 2018 more than 60 volunteers worked in the garden doing a number of activities including; reorganizing the compost system, clearing trails throughout the garden and building a chicken coop. The completion of the “chicken palace” will not only provide food for our girls, but will also be an extension to our experiential learning space and to understand more about science and the art of animal husbandry while providing our permaculture garden with more compost needed to grow more food. 

Looking back at the history of the garden and its changes it has proven to be a metaphor of the Mariposa girls and their process here with us.  When we plant the seed, give love and nutrients, we reap the benefits of what we sow. When we take the time to nurture, educate and empower girls their lives become the testament of the fruits of our labor.  

Dayana proudly stands at our Mama Tingo garden.
Dayana proudly stands at our Mama Tingo garden.
Very proud of our new chicken coop!
Very proud of our new chicken coop!
Isha planting seeds.
Isha planting seeds.
Staff and volunteers doing some garden clean-up.
Staff and volunteers doing some garden clean-up.
 
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