Spring is in the air and The Mariposa Center for Girls is buzzing with positive energy. We have been extremely busy with deep cleaning, organizing, and giving the Mariposa Center for Girls a refresh as programs are in full swing and visitors return.
We have been working overtime to give some special attention to the areas that needed a little work to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the year. Here are just a few of the facility projects that we’ve completed over the past few months:
We’ve had a lot of rain recently so some of our classroom roofs were leaking! We were able to repair the holes and replace many of the roof tiles.
Safety is always our first priority. We buried electrical lines around the property to ensure that they stay out of the way of our basketball games.
Spring means gardening season so we cleared out the overgrown patches in our gardens and started planting new beds in our gardening classes.
Good nutrition is critical for growing bodies and minds and in an effort to ensure the Mariposa girls are staying strong and healthy, we’ve transitioned our food program to be entirely plant-based! Through food, we can celebrate the beauty and abundance of the Dominican Republic and develop healthier habits that last a lifetime. We even built a new outdoor oven (fogón) and we’re excited to continue developing new recipes.
We refreshed our entrance area with new signs, gravel, and flowers to welcome our visitors.
The main office and conference rooms got a fresh coat of paint.
We added additional nighttime security lighting.
We gave everything a deep scrub in the spirit of Spring cleaning and got new screens for all of our windows.
A full schedule of programs is underway so we updated our inventory, reorganized our supply closet, and added to our wish list (see link below)!
Our youngest girls have been busy learning tennis, yoga, ballet, chess, cooking, and improving their literacy through our own Mariposa Primeros Lectores Reading Series. Our older girls are learning ocean safety, playing baseball on the traditionally “boy-only” field, updating their resumes, learning modern dance routines, and improving their English. Our girls are dedicated, engaged, and empowered!
Thanks to our hard-working staff and the support of donors like yourself, our center is alive, shining, and home to over 150 Mariposas!
We are thrilled to introduce our most recent project at the Mariposa Center for Girls, the Mariposa Primeros Lectores series!
The literacy work we do at the Mariposa DR Foundation is essential to break the cycle of generational poverty in our community. After years of being unhappy with the options for primeros lectores books due to students not seeing their language and culture represented, the Mariposa team decided it was time to make our own. Thus, the Mariposa Primeros Lectores series was born.
The Mariposa Primeros Lectores series is an innovative, Dominican-centered approach specifically designed for the new reader. Using familiar words makes them fun and easy to read, and students read about things they see in their daily lives.
They are written, designed and created by the growing family of The Mariposa DR Foundation and its supporters. The series is illustrated by Mariposa programs graduate, Detiny Mejia.
Our first edition of the book series includes 10 titles and a matching memory card set. We are working to get 1,000 of the books to the schools in our community and into the hands of new readers!
The summer of 2021 has been a summer of finding adventure and joy in safe spaces, and we have plans to extend it!
I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for allowing our girls to live their dreams this summer. Over 40 new girls enrolled and were introduced to swimming, while more than 40 other girls had the chance to surf at Encuentro Beach. A dozen girls rode a bike for the first time and 50 girls stand up paddle boarded on the beautiful river Yasica. We read under our giant mango tree, and debated current events under the almond trees. We danced, took computer classes, English classes and graphic design classes. We learned how to make plant based foods and to use math skills during cooking classes. We ate seagrapes from the bushes on the side of the “Maverick” Basketball court to quench our thirst and took naps in the shade. Our days began with tropical fruits, lots of mangoes, and coconut water from the palms on our campus. Morning circles rotated between yoga and meditation under the high arches of our Anacaona Bohio. How lucky we are to have found all of these safe spaces in nature. We sought out adventure everywhere we could, even kiteboarding has become a safe space.
Last week we learned school will not start back before the 29th of September. So here's to this endless summer that will continue!
Thank you all for allowing so many girls to find sanctuary, friendship, and rest; for letting them be girls this summer.
As you walk through the corridors of the Mariposa Center for Girls, you can’t help but be inspired by the beautiful artwork throughout. We are proud of our conscious decision to create an inspirational space where the art on our walls reflects the power of our mission. Throughout the years, we have worked with mosaic artists, painters and graffiti artists to create a visual, artistic hub of girl empowerment that tells a story and teaches the importance of sharing their voice and their perspective.
Inside the Center is the Women Activist Portrait Project- a perfect example of how we have successfully engaged our visitors and girls in a visual learning experience. This project features portraits of women or girl activists who have proven to be agents of change in their communities or on an international scale. Puerto Rican artist Rosenda Alvarez Faro and Dominican artist, Shak, recently completed four additional portraits at our Center; Elizabeth Acevedo, Amanda Gorman, Malala Yousafzai and Naomi Osaka. All four portraits beautifully embody the strength of these powerful women. Overall, we have completed 15 portraits, uniquely telling their own story and adding to the richness of the Mariposa Center experience. The portrait series project has served as a starting point for conversations and program development, as we delve into establishing courses that focus on identity, race relations and the important work that these women and girls have done for their own communities. Within the series, there is a full-length mirror that echoes the Mariposa motto, “I am the Most Powerful Force for Change,” reminding the girls that they too are part of a lineage of women activists that have the capacity to change the face of their future.
Each piece of art on our walls has been an opportunity for valuable lessons, gained leadership skills and visual messages of empowerment. Here, at the Mariposa Center for Girls we firmly believe that creating a beautiful space filled with art that reflects our values has the power to radiate that message to our community and to the world. There is valid opportunity and a learned experience with every glance of the art. It is a visual landscape that has the potential to change the minds and hearts of those who see it.
The Mariposa Center for Girls is the only safe space for girls in our community, so it devastated us to have to shut it down in March. The young women in our community are facing the biggest obstacles they have seen in their short lives. Their schools are closed, they have food insecurity, accessing healthcare is challenging, and they face the risk of increased gender-based violence. They have to stay distanced from their friends and they feel isolated. There is also the mental stress of living in close quarters with family members who may not be taking precautions. They have a lot going on in their lives. When we closed our doors we promised that on the day that we could safely open our Center again, we would.
Safely reopening is a large financial burden due to the need for PPE, transportation logistics, safety and health protocol implementation, and the increased staffing necessary to run programming in smaller groups. But in September, thanks to many of your support, we were able maneuver the complicated logistics of safely starting up our high quality programs again. The girls love being back, and participating in programs at our Center and out on the water is helping their academics and their mental health.
Since the pandemic is keeping us apart, we wanted to bring our Mariposa Center for Girls to you. Join Nicole, Detiny, Marlin and Alexandra and see what our Center is like in our video tour! Of course, we hope when it is safe to do so you can come visit so we can give you a tour in person!
As 2020 comes to an end, we want to thank all of you who have supported our work over the last ten years; not just on sunny days but also through hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and a pandemic. We hope you and your families are safe and healthy and we are holding you in our hearts.
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