The past few months have been extremely busy at The Mariposa Center for Girls. In April we welcomed families, community leaders and members, and special out-of-town guests to officially inaugurate the Julia Alvarez Children's Library and the Minou Mirabal Teaching Kitchen. Acclaimed author, Julia Alvarez and her family joined us for a a very special week of celebration and volunteering with the girls, reading, doing crafts and helping to prepare them for a spectacular Earth Day performance. Representatives from the US Embassy, the Mirabal Family, donors, community leaders and friends of Mariposa all came together for a ribbon cutting ceremony and special performances by the Mariposa girls.
The Julia Alvarez Children's Library is painted with beautiful murals depicting memorable scenes from Julia Alvarez's stories and features hundreds of the best Children's books in both Spanish and English. This cozy, inviting space helps girls in our programs to foster a love of reading and encourages creativity and imagination. During this week of celebration we also officially opened the Minou Mirabal Teaching Kitchen. Tourism and hospitality is the biggest contributor to the local economy in our town of Cabarete and we want our girls to be prepared for success in the workplace. Many of them grow up with basic cooking skills as this is one of their many responsibilities in the home. In the teaching kitchen we can inspire and teach them to think outside of the box, further develop a skill many of them already have and inspire them to learn about nutrition and how to prepare international cuisine from all over the world!
The Julia Alvarez Children's Library and Minou Mirabal Teaching Kitchen are just two of the many dedicated spaces we have at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Each area of the Center is named after a Dominican or Haitian woman who is a positive role model for young women. Some of the women featured are famous and some of them are extraordinary local community leaders and parents. As girls learn and play at The Mariposa Center for Girls, they will be surrounded by imagery and information about powerful women to inspire them to become agents for positive change in their families, communities and the world.
We have lots of exciting updates planned to the Center in the coming months and we look forward to sharing more with you soon.
The girls, families, volunteers and staff at The Mariposa DR Foundation
We're excited to tell you more about the new space we have been working on at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by the Garretson family and volunteers from Lawrence Academy, the Minou Mirabal teaching kitchen is almost ready! In March a group of enthusiastic volunteers from Lawrence Academy brought us one step closer to finishing the Minou Mirabal Tavarez Teaching Kitchen by building our very own pizza oven! With help from a local expert they constructed an oven where we will be able to make our own delicious pizza. What girl doesn’t love a pizza party? Besides making special treats for our girls we hope to have the oldest girls utilize the pizza oven as part of our restaurant training program to gain valuable job skills.
This summer we will expand our job skills development opportunities and provide cooking classes and hospitality training to girls that are intersted in pursuing this path. Tourism and hospitality is the number one industry in the Dominican Republic and is growing rapidly. This can be a great career option for many of our girls. In additional to cooking classes teaching girls to prepare international dishes, training for this track will also include English classes, administrative management and other skills that would enable girls to work in a leadership position or start their own business.
Many of the girls in our program have been cooking since a very young age, as adolescent girls take on many of the domestic responsibilities at home. Strengthening the skills they already have and helping them understand how to leverage them to create a viable career is very empowering. 14 year old Vivianna says "Cooking is my favorite chore that I have to do at home. At Mariposa I have learned to grow food and I can't wait to learn how to prepare different dishes from around the world. I would like to own my own restaurant one day".
We look forward to updating you on the final touches to the teaching kitchen and the kickoff of our culinary program this summer. None of this would be possible without your generosity and we thank you for your support.
We're very excited to tell you about an exciting new program that began this fall at The Mariposa Center for Girls. For the past four months, volunteer Johannil has been teaching theraputic art classes to all 120 girls. Art therapy is very different from traditional art instruction. Art therapy is making art to enhance one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art therapy uses the art making process to explore elements such as feelings, managing emotions and behaviors, increasing self-esteem and self-awareness, gaining self-empowerment, and reducing anxiety, with the goal of improving and restoring personal well being.
Under Johannil's leadership, the girls explored a variety of mediums: fabric, clay, paint, pencil, and recycled materials. Some projects included: creating personal journals, jewelry, paper flowers, dream sticks, wrap dolls, self-care boxes and self-affirming cards. Through these art projects the girls explored the following themes: self-care, self-empowerment, self-esteem, taking care of one’s body and consent, family and culture, and their role in their community.
By the end of this semester, many of the girls reported having a positive learning experience. When students were asked what they learned and appreciated about the class they responded, “How to take care of my body because I have to maintain my body healthy,” “ I liked sharing my work with my classmates,” “ The importance of doing things for others with love,” and “I learned how to make jewelry and other art activities, thought about my future, and ways to better care for myself.” Johannil also worked closely with our staff psychologist to integrate her curriculum into our overall health and wellness program, and convene a group of mothers to help them understand the value of what their daughters are learning and inviting them to participate as well!
In addition to independent projects, the girls worked together to create two pieces of community art, one of which is in the process of being permanently installed at the Dominican-Haitian border! Johannil's incredible work has helped the girls to recognize the power of art - how it brings people together, encourages learning from each other, and how it can create a space of healing. They used their leadership skills and vast creativity to make the murals a success, give importance and meaning to their personal art pieces, and learn how to use art as a tool to heal.
Amazing transformations are happening every day at The Mariposa Center for Girls and it is only possible because of thoughtful, generous people like you and we thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts.
Wishing you a warm and happy holiday season!
The girls, volunteers, families and staff at The Mariposa DR Foundation
We're excited to tell you about a new addition to The Mariposa Center for Girls. The "Snack Shack" is a fully operating business, completely run by the Mariposa girls themselves! With the help of a dedicated group of students visiting from Lawrence Academy in Groton Massachusetts, this past spring we constructed a small roadside stand where the girls are selling fresh juices, smoothies, sandwiches and snacks. Many of the ingredients come straight from our on site permaculture garden and outdoor learning space where Mariposas are growing their own food. This exciting project at the Center provides a great opportunity for our girls to gain real world work experience in a safe, learning environment. Volunteers are working side by side with the girls, helping them to develop business skills including inventory managment, basic accounting, customer service, teamwork and leadership.
One Mariposa in particular has taken a very special interest in working at the shack. Vivianna is 13 years old and has discovered her passion for the restaurant business. "I learned how to garden and grow food here at the Center last year. I can now grow the food, make recipes and create the menu and I want to own a restaurant when I graduate - or run the cooking school right here at Mariposa!"
As we grow, our goal is to become more self-sustaining. The Snack Shack brings visitors to the Center, allows our girls the opportunity to earn their own income and provides them with great resume building experience. Because of your generosity we are creating an interactive learning environment and our girls are not just thriving, they are excelling. Amazing things are happening at The Mariposa Center for Girls and we look forward to sending you more updates soon!
We are thrilled to report a major development at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Just last month, SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE), a leading provider of solar energy solutions and services donated an entire 9.9kW solar energy system to power our center! Thanks to you and our project partners at Soluz and SolarWave, who provided additional support on this project, The Mariposa Center for Girls is now one of the largest educational facilities in the Dominican Republic that is completely powered by renewable energy. This milestone comes at an extremely significant time as the United Nations has declared 2014 as the first year of the "Decade of Sustainable Energy for All" which has a special focus on the links between energy, women and health. Because of your support, we are able to invest additional resources in education and training for our girls and local community members, putting us at the forefront of this important global clean energy movement.
Richard Hansen, CEO and Founder of Soluz, Mariposa Advisory Board member and pioneer in bringing solar energy to the Dominican Republic is committed to connecting organizations to provide energy access to underserved communities: "Matching SunEdison to help the Mariposa Center for Girls was a natural fit. "Having access to reliable and sustainable electricity will improve theier quality of life. The Center and the girls will benefit from this program for years to come".
The new solar energy system at the center ensures that we can keep our main office, computer lab, sewing machines, pool and other resources that require electricity running consistently. The new system also greatly reduces our energy costs and promotes Mariposa as a shining example of environmental sustainability. On April 22nd we had a special Earth Day celebration at The Mariposa Center for Girls where representatives from Soluz and SolarWave gave a presentation to the girls, incorporating various environmental topics including organic gardening, tree planting, clean energy and recycling. In 2014 we will continue to build and strengthen our environmental education programs, helping girls make the connections between economic prosperity, benefits to the community, environmental health and their own well being.
None of this would be possible without the generosity of people like you and we thank you for your continued support. We look forward to sending you more exciting news as we gear up for summer!
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