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Aug 30, 2018

Mariposa's don't just fly they surf too!

Nicole riding a wave. Photo: Sebastiano Massimino
Nicole riding a wave. Photo: Sebastiano Massimino

Mariposa’s surfing program, led by our very own graphic designer and surfing mentor, Pamela Cuadros, gives the strongest swimmers a chance to do what so many foreigners come flocking to Cabarete beaches to try.

Despite living a stone’s throw from the ocean, more often than not in the Cabarete community, young girls are not taught how to swim and often grown up fearing the water. Our swim and surf programs empower our Mariposas, making them see that they are just as capable, strong and worthy of a passtime like surfing as the local boys and the foreigners who come on vacation to their hometown.

Before letting them get out there to ride the waves, we make sure our girls are fully prepared. One of the most important things we do here at Mariposa is make sure all of our girls become strong swimmers. The youngest girls start off in our pool, getting the basic strokes down and learning to love the water. Once they’ve made it to a certain level, we take them across the street from our center to the beach, to learn integral ocean safety, such as how to identify and escape from riptides.

During our summer camp months, Pamela takes the experienced surfers out into the waves daily, preparing them for upcoming surf competitions. She also takes a new batch of surfers out twice a week, helping them learn the basics and fostering their love of the sport. As if born to surf, many of the girls take to the surfing instantly, and sometimes win local competitions.

The surf program also goes hand-in-hand with our environmental and sustainability initiatives. Before getting geared up, the surfers always take time to clean up the beach, clearing trash and collecting debris in recycled rice bags. This morning routine has solidified the understanding that loving the ocean also means protecting the ocean. This is how genuine environmental social change begins-- by bringing the next generation out into nature and sparking a life-long love.

Our surfers have also had the chance to ride and learn alongside some amazing professionals! In March, The Changing Tides Foundation, a group of water women and adventurers who feel their calling is to help others, came down to Cabarete through their Women’s Outreach Mentorship Program. They swapped tips and tricks, explored the local waterways and gifted our girls a ton of amazing surfing gear. The Changing Tides women even made a little history while they were here, surfing a the biggest swell in Puerto Plata in 30 years!

Surfing has given our girls confidence, strength and the opportunity to do something fun and empowering out in their natural surroundings. The chance to see other women achieving extraordinary feats of athleticism out on the waves and then attempt them themselves has empowered the Mariposas, inspiring dreams and aspirations of surfing at that high level.

But until they do move on to wilder waters, if you head down to Encuentro beach on a typical summer morning, you will see the bright, fluorescent pink wetsuit shirts of the Mariposas, bobbing up and down in the rolling surf-- riding the waves and holding their own right alongside the very best surfers from around the world.

At Encuentro Beach with CTF. Photo: Jianca Lazarus
At Encuentro Beach with CTF. Photo: Jianca Lazarus
Expressing love of ocean. Photo: Jianca Lazarus
Expressing love of ocean. Photo: Jianca Lazarus
Beach cleanup
Beach cleanup
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
 
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