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Mariposa Center For Girls

by The Mariposa DR Foundation
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Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls
Mariposa Center For Girls

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.

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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!

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     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.

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Maripositas at the Mariposa Center for Girls
Maripositas at the Mariposa Center for Girls

With the school year beginning we wanted to take a moment to say thank you from all of us at the Mariposa DR Foundation for your support of the Mariposa Center for Girls.   While we are not a school in the traditional sense of the word, there is an incredible amount of learning happening at the Center each day! In fact, the Mariposa center first girls is one of the premier educational institutions on the island of Hispaniola.

The Mariposa Center for girls is the second home and a safe space for girls from elementary school through high school.  It is the only safe space for girls on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Imagine a space where a young girl can come and feel safe and participate in yoga, music, tutoring, swimming, basketball, language, computers, robotics, ballet, and so much more.  Incredible, right? That’s what it looks like at our Center on a daily basis!

The girls and young women in our programs are divided up into four groups:

The Maripositas are 8-11 years old and are in 2nd-5th grades. They attend programs at the Center in the morning, are provided lunch, and then go to school in the afternoon.

The Mariposas are 11-14 years old and in 6th-8th grades.  The Mariposotas are 14-19 years old and in 9th-12th grades.  Both the Mariposas and the Mariposotas attend school in the morning and then come to the Center for lunch and participate in programs in the afternoon

The Mariposas Volando are young women who are 17-23 years old and in college or working and are continually supported by MDRF staff.  The do not attend programs at the Center on a daily basis, but often assist with programs and come for special events.  

As we look forward to the excitement of a new year and continue to build and beautify our site, your support means so much to us.  Be sure to follow us on social media to stay updated on our fall programs!

Practicing basketball
Practicing basketball
Map of the Mariposa Center for Girls
Map of the Mariposa Center for Girls
Practicing guitar
Practicing guitar
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Elidania during swim class
Elidania during swim class

This spring we worked on teaching and strengthening swimming skills with daily lessons as part of our water sports program.  Not only does swimming support a healthy lifestyle through exercise, but it also empowers the Mariposas to overcome fears and learn a new skill, and it encourages safety around the water. 

We began our swimming program over 8 years ago with intensive swim lessons for the “Nautical Nine,” who learned to swim in one summer. Since that first group, more than 350 local girls have learned how to swim.   Girls that once stood on the beach, terrified of the water, are now swimming, surfing, kite surfing, SUPing and more.

When we opened the Mariposa Center for Girls in 2014 we finally had our own pool.  It sits in the very center of our space and in some ways, is the heart of our Center. Not only do our girls learn to swim, but it provides a tranquil, peaceful environment to learn. It will come as no surprise that swimming is one of their favorite classes.  For some of the girls, this was their first time in a pool!

In our beach town of Cabarete, knowing how to swim is not just a recreational skill, it is a matter of safety. One of the Mariposas was able to save her younger sister from drowning with the water safety skills she learned in our program. 

All in all, swimming allows the Mariposas to participate in community activities and be proud of where they come from.  Thank you for your support in keeping our Mariposas swimming!

Mariposa Volando Jafreisy teaching Esmelada
Mariposa Volando Jafreisy teaching Esmelada
At the heart of the Center
At the heart of the Center
Fanny &Yoskany
Fanny &Yoskany

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Organization Information

The Mariposa DR Foundation

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Patricia Suriel
Ithaca, New York United States
$172,262 raised of $400,000 goal
 
2,662 donations
$227,738 to go
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