Cabarete is a beautiful town on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic and each year thousands of tourists flock to the beaches to participate in water sports. However, very few of the local children, especially girls, have the opportunity to participate in water sports even though it is what makes the Cabarete community unique. Poor children are often left out from the livelihood of their hometown simply because they cannot swim. In fact, most of them are terrified of the water.
Several local hotels have generously donated pool time to our programs over the years; however, it has been inconsistent and regular swimming lessons are imperative. We have recently moved our operations to our own property with a pool, but the land has been abandoned for two years and needs serious repairs to get our pool up and running. Our most recent additions to the Mariposas have yet to receive any formal swimming instruction and are eager to learn.
When our pool is repaired we will be able to provide formal swimming instruction to more than 75 girls at the new Mariposa Center for Girls. Not only will this build their confidence, but also enable them to participate in take part in activities that make Cabarete the unique community it is. Local girls will no longer be left out; they will be able to lead and show that they are powerful forces for change. Learning to swim is a skill that every child should have, especially in a beach town.
Learning to swim is only the first step in the Mariposa Water Sports Program. Several of the girls who have learned to swim in our programs have begun surfing, windsurfing and kite boarding and are gaining local attention and respect. More than 50,000 tourist visit Cabarete each year to enjoy water sports, yet all of the staff on the beach and hotels are male and female tourists or ex-pats. By providing the girls with swimming lessons we are enabling them to find employment in the community.