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.
In the midst of the global pandemic, when the world was already facing so many challenges, the Dominican Republic faced yet another immediate emergency situation at hand as hurricane Isaias passed through the Caribbean. Directly in its destructive path, we experienced severe weather that caused dangerous conditions and storm surges throughout the island. The coastal town of Cabarete saw flooding in some of its most vulnerable areas, power outages throughout the community and damage to already susceptible building structures in precarious places.
In 2014, we successfully took on the challenge of refurbishing the Center from an abandoned building to a first rate facility that invokes inspiration and change in our community and the girls who attend programs there. Our beloved Mariposa Center that serves as a second home for all of the Mariposa girls for the last 6 years, also experienced considerable damage during the storm. A number of large trees came down, causing secondary building damage. Fencing fell over and general reparations will have to be made in order for the Center to be back functioning, of course, once it is safe to bring girls back to programs. Though Isaias caused considerable damage, we know that as an organization we are prepared and skilled to overhaul any destruction that occurred.
On the ground in our community we were able to immediately reach out to all families to check in via telephone, confirming the safety of the Mariposa girls. Additionally, our team members did individual home visits and community walk throughs that gave us a clearer understanding of the extent of the damage and what individual families will need to be able to get back on their feet again. Without saying, 2020 has been a year of incredible challenges throughout the world. Now more than ever, we know the importance of working together as a community for a common goal and supporting each other to rise up after every storm that we are faced to confront.
As humanity faces unprecedented obstacles, we at the Mariposa DR Foundation are working on the ground with our families and girls. By listening to them, we can better support them in these challenging times. We are writing today to give you, our advocates and supporters, an update on how we are addressing the current situation in Cabarete.
We are assisting the more than 100 families of our Mariposas based on their specific needs. This includes:
Saving Lives by Social Distancing: Educating about the importance of social distance and modeling what that looks like. We are sharing best practices for staying healthy. Public health posters are being made by the girls and displayed on the outside of their homes.
Feeding Families: Supporting some of our highest need families by creating accounts for them at local corner stores (colmados) and grocery stores. Families have ownership on what to buy, as they know their needs best. This also will help to stimulate the devastated local economy. We are also supplying some families in high need with clean water for drinking.
Distance Learning: Offering distance learning materials and access to iPads as well as ensuring Mariposas have resources to complete distance learning offered by their schools at the elementary, high school, and university levels.
Women’s Health: This can be an especially scary time for the pregnant women in our community. We are connecting with our Mariposa graduates who are pregnant and offering them support and resources. We are also working in collaboration with CEPROSH to deliver medication to HIV+ community members in Cabarete and Sosua. We are distributing sanitary pads, soap and hand sanitizer.
Making Masks: Mariposa Upcycled Sails seamstress Maria Alexandra is making 200 masks out of old spinnaker sails to deliver to families. Additional funding will allow us to pay our second seamstress to expand the mask making and share them with the greater Cabarete community.
Nurturing the mind: We are giving the Mariposas journals to write in and lending books from our library. We will be offering virtual yoga classes when they are able to connect to the internet.
Musical Instruments: We have delivered several musical instruments to the Mariposas’ homes so they can keep practicing and for their enjoyment.
Environment: Two new environmental workbooks created by our girls “Eco - Heroes” and “Our Oceans” will be printed once printers are open again and delivered to 2,000 children in Cabarete.
Supporting our Rise Up Scholars in the US: We are extremely lucky to have three “madrinas” supporting our three Rise Up Scholars who are stuck in the US and finishing their second semester of freshman year remotely. Thank you to Sherry Herdman, Staci Darmody, and Jen Furigay for opening their hearts and their homes.
We know as a global community we face challenging times. On the day that the Mariposas can return to their schools, to the Mariposa Center for Girls, and to the ocean and the mountains, we will be ready. But the path to recovery and their future depends on the financial support and commitments we are able to secure today. Those of you who have donated this month, whether it be $10, $100, or $1,000, please know it lifts us up as we navigate uncharted waters.
We hope you all are hanging in there and we are holding you in our hearts.
Every morning at 8:30 a.m. in the small town of Cabarete, Dominican Republic, a group of young Mariposa girls and their teaching guides hold hands and form a circle. What seems to be the simplest act of unity, sets the tone for the rest of their day. Together they giggle, dance, sing and play their way through 15 minutes. This is the moment where the teaching guides reinforce the moral values that are echoed throughout all of our programming; self-respect, respect for others and respect for the environment. The intimate setting of a circle, naturally builds positive friendships and solidifies relationships between our teaching guides and the Mariposa girls.
It is during these important 15 minutes a day that community is formed and confidence is built between members of our community and within themselves. Girls often feel inspired to lead a song or be the head of a game as they feel empowered to be leaders. In building their leadership skills, they feel special and that they ‘belong’ and have a voice that needs to be heard. This daily routine tests the girls to collectively and individually work on challenges that some of the games provide them with; naturally building their critical thinking, communication and strategy skills, as they work together as a team.
As an organization that receives visitors from around the world, we like to celebrate languages during our circle time. We always greet with “buenos días, good morning, bon jour”, and then invite visitors to share other morning greetings from around the globe within our circle setting. Regularly, our English speaking team members use the circle time to introduce simple English vocabulary, in a fun, dynamic way, that allows the girls to actively build their English word banks through active song and movement.
As we wind up our circle time and head to class, we end our ritual with the girls together in unison, shouting out the Mariposa motto; “I am the most powerful force for change!” With those mighty words and a spirit of solidarity and community, they are confident and ready to take on the world!
Have you given much thought about what it's like to be a 12 year old girl in the Dominican Republic? I don’t mean in terms of statistics, like the fact that the Dominican Republic ranks extremely high in adolescent pregnancy and child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean, with over 40% of girls becoming teenage mothers and 36% of girls marrying before 18. I mean, have you thought about how that translates to the day-to-day experience of a girl living in Cabarete?
Everyday, girls face cat-calling as they walk down the street and must fight various pressures to drop out of school. As they go about their day they see first-hand the threat of sex-tourism and sex-trafficking that looms over their town. They must manage 2-4 hours of chores, including laundry, cleaning, and babysitting at home, on top of doing well in school. For these reasons, having a safe space is essential to helping the Mariposa girls be the most powerful force for change.
For the Mariposas girls, having their own safe space allows them to develop healthy relationships with mentors and other girls in the community, and feel empowered to make a difference in their lives, the community and the world. They are able to spend quality time with their peers and they have the emotional and physical safe space to learn new things.
At the Mariposa Center for Girls we have the only all-girls basketball court that we know of on the island, allowing them to always be at the center of the game. Girls can learn to swim in the privacy of our own pool without worrying about who is watching. Math and science are learned in an environment where negative stereotypes about what girls can achieve are not welcome. And our space is one where in downtime, they can come and hang out to talk to friends about their day or process what is going on their lives.
Providing this safe space comes at a high cost. We provide transportation to and from the Center every single day so that girls can arrive safely and without harassment. We also have security guards checking in visitors and making sure that those who come to our campus are authorized to be there. Both are vital for successful programming, as they make sure that the Mariposas arrive to the Center safely and that they are safe while they are here. We could not do what we do without your generous support. Thank you for believing in our Mariposa Center for Girls project. You are helping us make sure our safe space remains a safe haven.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
Get Reports via Email
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Give the gift of stability in a time of instability. Set up an automatic, monthly gift now and get matched at 100%—because the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt us all, and it will take all of us to overcome it. Terms and conditions apply.
Monthly giving is as easy, safe, and as inexpensive as a Netflix subscription. Start a monthly donation to The Mariposa DR Foundation today and get matched at 100%. Terms and conditions apply.