Sadly, there is nothing to report as we do not have even one donation. We still dream of completing this project as the need is great in Cienfuegos, the poorest area in the Dominican Republic. More about Cienfuegos:
Community Location and Circumstances
Cien Fuegos is a barrio located on the northwest edge of Santiago in the Dominican Republic. In close proximity to Cien Fuegos is an expansive landfill (Rafey’s Landfill) that is constantly smoldering and contributing significant pollution to the environment. This landfill receives up to 1800 tons of waste per day. It is in the dump where many of the children currently served by the Center were originally located, scavenging through the refuse (a daily occurrence) looking for food or items to sell to help support their families. There are many more children still scavenging in the dump, trying to survive, who are not being served by the Center. These children often trash-pick in temperatures above 100 degrees and for 12 hours or more per day, looking for plastic, tin, paper, and copper to sell in local junk stores and for food for their own consumption.
The houses Cien Fuegos children live in with their families (if they have families) are clap board shanties with tin roofs pieced together with scavenged cast-off materials from the dump and streets. There are no latrines, no furniture, only rudimentary cooking equipment and often family members sleep on the floor or altogether on one mattress. See figure one. Many of the parents, if they are fortunate enough to have a job, work in sweat shops for approximately $1.50 per hour, which keeps them locked in poverty.
The health impacts of the circumstances in Cien Fuegos on the population include an increased probability of accidental injuries; malnutrition; mental issues including stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide; occupational diseases and accidents; and, infectious diseases. Potential health impacts include exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc.); violence related health impacts (homicides, rapes, etc.); and, health problems related to addictions, prostitution, etc.
In addition, homelessness is a common occurrence, as well as frequent displacement, lack of work security, loss of traditional knowledge/practices/culture, and human rights violations.
It is not unusual for trash-picking to be a multi-generational activity among family groups in Cien Fuegos as this level of extreme poverty is an endless cycle and lack of skills and vocations mean limited legal choices to generate income. These families often have no hope, no identities, no futures. However, many of them have not given up, and are desperate for a way out of the cycle of deprivation and destitution; they just need the resources and education to begin to move in a better direction.
Vocational School Dream:
By providing vocational training and assistance in job attainment, the Center is initiating long-term change that can impact the life-trajectories of all of its children, their families, and future children and can positively impact the economy of the area. We believe in teaching a man to fish, rather than providing the fish. In addition, we envision that when our children graduate our vocational programs, they will go immediately to work in the Cien Fuegos barrio and possibly even start their own businesses. The economic benefits of a vocational program to the families of the graduates will be life changing and will also positively impact the Cien Fuegos community, Santiago, and the Dominican Republic.