After spending the previous day relaxing at a tourist filled beach town with tons of hotels and nice waterfront restaurants, Patricia and Jessica from Mariposa introduced me to another side of the town of Cabarete. We met at Patricia’s coffee shop where several of the older girls Mariposa works with have found employment. I was provided with a summary of Patricia’s long history of involvement in the community and how, after years of working to establish a quality education system for the children of Cabarete, the logical next step for her had been for her to form Mariposa with the goal of seeking to educate and empower young women in the community.
After our discussion and a few cups of organic Dominican coffee, Patricia and Jessica walked us around the town in which they work. The slum lay just out of sight from the tourist filled beach road, hidden behind hotels and storefronts; it likely went unnoticed by the majority of visitors- including myself until this point. As we walked, people were constantly waiving and coming up to say hola and discuss various issues with the women, providing an illustration of just how great the scope of the work is that these women were doing. We were welcomed into the homes of several of the girls Mariposa works with- most of them small, one-room shacks with a family of 8 or more, only curtains acting as dividers between sleeping areas, and garbage filled swamps for backyards. But these living conditions were only a small element of the hardships many of the girls in the communities are dealing with. We were introduced to some of the girls and got a small taste of just how badly needed Mariposa’s service were. We met teens who had become pregnant, living with abusive fathers, had lost family members from easily preventable situations, and one HIV positive young girl, who, without the assistance provided my Mariposa, would not be able to access the ARVs needed to help stem the progress of her disease.
We met many girls with many different problems, but as Mariposa recognizes, there is one solution- enabling these young women to change their situation and empower them with knowledge and confidence that will help them to create a better future for themselves and future generations. Mariposa has taken holistic approach to helping girls and their families overcome negative effects of poverty and change the stereotype of what it means to be a woman in a developing country.
Jan 18, 2011
What is The Power Project?
By Jessica Lawson - Associate Director
Lakeside School Power Project Fundraising Team!
Eight boys and four girls from Lakeside School in Seattle came to the Dominican Republic in July 2010. These students spent a month in the remote village of Tres Ceibas above Rio San Juan on the North Coast. For 30 days they lived with the community and created a special summer camp for 30 local children and worked on three homes.
Hosted by local families, these students became deeply connected to the people of this small community and put their heads together to come up with a long-term plan to help alleviate extreme poverty here on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.
The focus of The Mariposa DR Foundation programs is the Girls Leadership Program. We realized through working with girls that many of them miss school and work because of their period. Unable to afford menstrual products girls and women often stay home for 3-5 days per month. For an adolescent girl this means that she could be missing out on up to 20% of her education in her critical teen years! We began to do some research on how to tackle this problem and came across the solution - Luna Pads (www.lunapads.com). Luna Pads are reusable sanitary napkins that are environmentally friendly and will provide a girl with the menstrual products she needs for up to 5 years. We immediately contacted Madeleine Shaw at Luna Pads and created a specific plan for The Mariposa DR Foundation including a specially designed and priced kit. The Mariposa Edition Pads4Girls kit will be available for $20 instead of the usual $30. We realized that we had come across something huge but needed a powerful force to realize our vision. This force is those 8 boys and 4 girls from Lakeside Academy.
Six days before the Lakeside students were to return home to Seattle, Executive Director, Patricia Suriel and Associate Director, Jessica Lawson presented the idea of Luna Pads to the group and proposed that they begin a fundraising campaign to provide Luna Pads for all adolescent girls in Cabarete. The Lakeside students were immediately on board and began working hard to create The POWERProject fundraising initiative to make this happen. The Encargo Group, a shipping company based in the Dominican Republic has also joined the team to provide free shipping for the products.
There is something quite powerful about 8 teenage boys and 4 teenage girls from a privileged school in Seattle raising funds to provide more education and freedom for Haitian and Dominican adolescent girls living in poverty.
Lakeside originally set a fundraising goal of $10,000 and surpassed that very quickly. The goal has now been raised to $20,000 which will enable The Mariposa DR Foundation to expand distribution to the Tres Ceibas community as well as start training women to make Luna Pads right here on the island. The POWERProject will help Mariposa educated, empower and employ more girls and women and it will change lives. Join us and help them help these girls.
We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of those who donated to the Global Giving challenge. We far exceeded our expectations and are amazed that we were able to raise over $30,000 in such a short amount of time. We are proud to be the project that won for most unique donors!
Your support makes it possible to breakdown the barriers that prevent girls living in poverty from getting an education and making it from adolescence to adulthood safely. We are a young organization and we are thrilled to have you endorse our cause. As you know the cost of continuously improving lives does not go away and we hope for your continued support in the future.
Over the Christmas holidays we were able to provide boxes of food for all of the 52 girls and their families. Soon we will launch our new video and have lots of great things planned for 2011. We're also recruiting long-term volunteers to come and work with our girls!
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