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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.
Mar 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day!

This winter the Mariposa girls enjoyed an exciting assortment of courses including Mariposa’s first robotics classes! Technology has become the most powerful tool of this generation, which is why we think that having the girls learn the basics of programming will give them the tools to understand more about our current and future world. Through the robotics course we are introducing the girls to a new way of thinking and solving problems creatively.  

The older girls started off with learning the basics of coding through ScratchJr, an iPad application that teaches kids to code through a visual programming language. The girls all completed a set of challenges to test their coding skills. After weeks of working through the challenges they created their own video games using their imaginations and the skills they had acquired through the ScratchJr challenges. They then moved on to using the JavaScript Blocks Editor, software which they later used to program the micro:bot robots, to get a basic understanding of the interface. The software was all in English which added an extra challenge, but the girls powered through! After learning JavaScript, they assembled their own robots using micro:bot kits. These kits are designed to teach kids in developing countries the basics of coding, electronics, and robotics. The girls then constructed their cardboard box kits in unique ways, converting them into unicorns, ambulances, and more. Finally, using the JavaScript Blocks Editor, they put their skills to use and coded their robots to move!

The younger girls spent the winter semester in a newly offered Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) class. In this class, the girls used similar creative problem solving skills as the older girls did in their robotics class. However, the younger girls started by learning about basic engineering topics like: simple machines, states of matter, the five senses, and chemical reactions. The course ended with a short introduction to ScratchJr. Given that the robotics course was such a hit with the older girls, the robotics program will be expanded and offered to the younger Mariposas in the coming semester! The younger girls will go into the robotics course next semester prepared with an understanding of basic STEAM concepts, and an enthusiasm for the sciences.

For the older girls who want to continue their robotics journey, they will have the opportunity to do so as part of a weekly robotics workshop on Saturdays. In this Saturday club, the girls will have one-on-one time with an instructor who will guide them through the process of enhancing their micro:bot and its code. The girls will brainstorm, design, and code what they want their robots to do. Some girls may choose to make “roomba” robots that can clean rooms, while others make robots that can navigate a maze. No matter what robot the girls ultimately present, it will be one that they have designed, built, and coded themselves. They will finish the semester with a final robotics presentation at our Earth Day celebration!

Thank you for all your support. It was crucial in making this robotics program possible. We want to ensure that robotics classes will continue to be offered in years to come, so that our Mariposas can grow as engineers, scientists, designers, coders, and roboticists!

 
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