This February the Mariposa Girls had the experience of a lifetime – they were invited to perform in front of 1,800 people at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana to spread the word about the world’s most powerful force for change, girls!
Most girls in poverty will never have the chance to visit a 5-star hotel, but tourism is the number one industry in the Dominican Republic and therefore the largest job market. This trip was only the beginning of our hospitality program, in which the Mariposa girls will gain the necessary skills to work in the industry. The girls got a full tour of the hotel and took advantage of the pools, magic shows and other activities they never knew existed. These girls are the stars of the Mariposa Girls Leadership Program and one day will be leaders in the field of hospitality.
After months of hard work rehearsing song and dance routines, 30 Mariposa girls went on an all expenses paid field trip to an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. When they strutted out onto the huge stage in front of the large audience they didn’t falter, they wowed the crowd with their performance and brought staff and guests alike to tears. To see one of the songs they performed, check out this video.
The girls shone as the rock stars they are: singing and dancing and leading the crowd participation. They later had the chance to mingle with the guests in a smaller setting, practicing their English and overcoming cultural barriers to talk about Mariposa’s work. You couldn’t tell that the girls had never been in this environment before as they laughed and enjoyed the resorts amenities. Many of them had never been on an elevator before or seen so much food available to eat.
The Mariposa Girls were grateful for the opportunity to shine and discover new possibilities for their future. It just goes to show what can happen if you unleash the leader in a girl! Thank you for making this possible.
The girls, families, staff and volunteers at The Mariposa Center for Girls
We began our swimming program over 5 years ago with intensive swim lessons for the “Nautical Nine,” nine girls who learned to swim in one summer. Since we opened the Mariposa Center for Girls, and have our very own pool, more than 300 local girls have learned how to swim. The Mariposa girls are making some serious waves in the Cabarete community. Girls that once stood on the beach, terrified of the water are now surfing, kite surfing, kayaking and more. More and more girls look forward to swimming classes as the highlight of their day.
In our beach town of Cabarete, swimming is not just a recreational skill, it is a matter of safety. One of our girls was able to save her younger sister from drowning with the water safety skills she learned in our program. Her younger sister has since become a strong swimmer learning at the Mariposa center.
Swimming for the Mariposa girls is about safety, but it is also about empowerment. Swimming allows them to participate in community activities and be proud of where they come from. The pool at the Mariposa Center for Girls is in the very center of our space and in some ways, the heart of our center. Not only do our girls learn to swim, but it provides a tranquil, peaceful environment to learn. Our girls love their pool so much that they find creative ways to incorporate it into other activities, such as theater. They recently created a synchronized swimming routine as part of a theatrical event for our annual Christmas celebration.
Our girls are swimming their way to success and we could not do any of this without your support. Thank you for your support in keeping our Mariposa girls swimming!
Cultural exchange and education is a core component of our program at Mariposa. We believe that by exposing our girls to other cultures, we can help them grow to be global citizens with a greater understanding of the world around them. This November, during Native American Heritage Month, we were fortunate enough to host two amazing representatives from the Navajo and Apache Nations right here in the Dominican Republic! Radmilla Cody, of the Tla'a'schi'i' (Red Bottom People) clan, is a Grammy award nominee and domestic abuse survivor and advocate and Mary Kim Titla, San Carlos Apache, is a Native American youth advocate, 20 year veteran TV newscaster and former school administrator.
Radmilla and Mary Kim spent a week at The Mariposa Center sharing their cultures with the girls. It was an extremely enriching experience for both parties as the parallels between the struggles of indigenous people on reservations and the struggles of growing up in poverty in Cabarete created powerful connections. The Mariposa girls of all ages participated in identity and coming of age workshops, crafting circles and music and dance classes. Together, they shared recipes, music, dances, language, traditional clothing and cultural practices.
It was an amazing week full of sharing and understanding of indigenous cultures in the US with the Mariposa girls. They were left with a greater understanding of the situation of indigenous people in the US and the power of Radmilla and Mary Kim's personal struggles. Our visitors' final day at the center was very emotional as we say farewell to both of them and to an incredibly rich, cultural experience. An unforgettable week for everyone involved.
Experiences like this empower girls by showing them that they matter, and that they too have the power to build solidarity and support for all girls and women across the globe. These life changing experiences are only possible because of your generosity and we thank you for your support.
The girls, families, volunteers and staff at The Mariposa DR Foundation