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Mariposa Center For Girls

by The Mariposa DR Foundation
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
     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.

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
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

Links:

Finished Art/Music Kiosk
Finished Art/Music Kiosk

Once again the Mariposa DR Foundation is at the forefront of environmental awareness and change in our community.  With our eco-brick project, we have, with the help of our community, prevented over 4,000 pounds of plastic and trash entering the sea!

More than 9 years ago we worked together with volunteers on a proto-type sustainable construction project with eco-bottle bricks at a local preschool. We are now taking this project full circle as the Mariposa girls motivate our community members by teaching them about this amazing, local resource. And we’re cleaning up the environment at the same time! Our environmental activism group led workshops about how to create eco-bricks (stuffing trash into 16 oz plastic bottles) and how we plan to use them in building at the Mariposa Center for Girls. To motivate community members to get involved, the Foundation offered 20 pesos per bottle for those that passed quality control tests.

Community members from all walks of life with a driving spirit of entrepreneurship came with their eco-bricks. We were overwhelmed with the incredible response and it is safe to say that this has been the most massive single-use plastic clean up in the neighborhoods of Cabarete ever! (Possibly the entire island!) We surpassed our original budget and goal of 2,000 bottles and ended up receiving over 4,000 bottles total.

With the completed eco-brick bottles we first created a bench prototype using about 500 bottles. With the rest of the eco-bricks we began the the construction of a music/art space at the Center.  

The enthusiasm has been incredible! Not only did this project offer community members a source of income, but it got our community motivated to clean up trash and conscious of alternative building materials! We encourage all local foundations, schools and whoever else is able to, to continue the momentum of this project by building with eco bottle bricks.

Inspecting eco-bricks for quality control
Inspecting eco-bricks for quality control
What 4,000 eco-bricks looks like!
What 4,000 eco-bricks looks like!
Finished bench
Finished bench

In our literacy program at Mariposa, trained teachers work with students to develop strong reading comprehension skills and a passion for literature. Our elementary school spelling and reading classes emphasize the development of foundational oral-visual competencies, recognition skills, and comprehension. We know the importance of reading to and with the girls from the moment they enter Mariposa.

In many schools throughout the Dominican Republic, overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources often result in a large percentage of students falling behind academically.  In the Dominican Republic, low reading proficiency in primary schools, 25% of which are performing below national metrics, coupled with schools graduating underprepared students has led to staggering attrition rates. More than 30% of students do not even reach high school, and of those that do, roughly 65% fail to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

Our goal at MDRF is to ensure that each of our girls graduates 3rd grade with a mastery of basic spelling and reading, as well as a love for books. We reinforce core competencies in literacy both inside and outside the classroom through our library lending system, innovative reading classes, and one-on-one tutoring sessions. We devote several years to literacy  classes, tutoring and engagement so that our girls are able to excel in their studies and develop a love of learning.

Our youngest Maripositas learn to read books bothin print and on the murals painted around the center. As our Maripositas grow into Mariposas, they enjoy participating in book clubs and having independent reading time. Finally, as Mariposotas, they take part in writer’s workshops, writer’s retreats, and book discussions with notable authors.

We know that we can only achieve our mission of educating, empowering, and employing girls by establishing a strong foundation of literacy skills at a young age. That is why we place such an emphasis on reading and why all of our students are enrolled in school full-time. By the time our girls graduate high school, they are reading at or above grade level. They are now Mariposas Volando (“Flying Butterflies”) intent on graduating college and achieving their professional goals.

 

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Organization Information

The Mariposa DR Foundation

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Patricia Suriel
Ithaca, New York United States
* This project is competing for bonus prizes
through the Year End Campaign 2019. Terms and conditions apply.

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