Unleash the Leader in a Girl

by The Mariposa DR Foundation
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Unleash the Leader in a Girl
Mariposa Class of 2032
Mariposa Class of 2032

As the 2021 school year gets underway, The Mariposa DR Foundation is excited to welcome a new group of 40 Maripositas to our Center. Wide eyed, curious and excited to begin their transformative journey, these new Mariposa girls are on their way to change the course of their lives and the future of their families. Always first on our list to serve are the siblings and relatives to active Mariposa girls. Once these spots are filled, we begin to reach out to the community at large. All new girls go through an orientation process which includes home visits and intake information with parents and families to get a better understanding of their individual needs. 

As our largest group to enroll to date, the need to serve the girls of the Cabarete community is more and more overwhelmingly apparent. The lack of instruction due to the COVID 19 pandemic and the increased demand of taking on full responsibility of domestic chores in their households during the lockdown, have left girls further behind in their academics. Yet at the same time, it is clear that parents are increasingly more desperate to get their girls into a safe environment to learn, grow and thrive. 

Reflective of the growing greater needs in our community and the local and global situation we find ourselves in, we are presented with new challenges as an institution. While these higher demands could be seen as taxing, they have also helped to encourage and open up more opportunities for us to work with an even greater variety of learners, some of which have never attended school. In addition, we continue to be cognizant of young girls who might normally be excluded or marginalized within the public educational system due to their learning or cognitive challenges. As always, The Mariposa DR Foundation is committed to educating ALL girls, despite their differences, as we continue to work diligently to meet the growing needs of our local community in providing quality holistic wrap-around services year after year.   

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Do you remember that feeling when you first learned how to ride a bike? The wind in your hair, the empowerment you felt. We are so excited to share that moment with the Mariposa girls again this summer. Though biking has been a part of our summer camp programming for the last 5 years (thanks to the generous donation of bikes from Red Robin), for many of our girls this will be their first experience on a bike. We know now more than ever our girls need to feel this sense of freedom. After such a challenging year on so many levels, it is crucial not only for their physical well being, but for their mental health as well. We know that exercising in the open air, in a sport that naturally provides social distancing is the perfect solution. 

We are taking the next few weeks to revisit our trails, train our staff and prep our bikes for the summer camp adventure that awaits them. Included in our Women on Wheels biking program staff this year is Mariposa volunteer and triathlete, Martina, who will be paired up with Mariposa Volando, Yaritza. Yaritza has flown back to support our programming from the College of Idaho, where she has currently completed her second year as a Davis UWC Scholar. This powerhouse team is led by our Executive Director, Patricia Suriel, who carries with her decades of biking experience in the Dominican Republic and around the globe.

Patricia has designed a program that both challenges the girls, helps to increase their biking skills, all while exploring their community in a fun, active way. The girls will safely tackle our hillside trails, ride along our beautiful coastline and get to know the countryside all on their bikes. Their coordination and balance will be tested in a supportive environment that will make them feel safe and in control. Every year, we look forward to this program and to see their bright faces full of joy and accomplishment as they cycle back to our Center from their ride!

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Over the years you have supported the young women at the Mariposa DR Foundation to become leaders in their community. Through our programming they have emerged as scholars, environmentalists, vivid storytellers, artists, citizen scientists, mentors, talented athletes, and competent makers. 

These young women, these incredible leaders of 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.

For this reason we believe that ocean accessibility is one essential element to maintaining the mental health of the Mariposas as they feel more and more isolated. As is true in every community, stress levels are high as they try to cope with the challenges they face. Many of us can relate to the need to be near water to center us, to offer us a respite from the world, to give us perspective, and to move our bodies. Now more than ever it is vital to get the Mariposa students safely to the beach and out on the water surfing, SUPing or swimming.  This requires significant planning and logistics to make sure the Mariposas can remain physically distant in vans and that we have more qualified staff for the much smaller groups, but it is absolutely worth it.

While the Mariposa DR Foundation ship is currently hove-to, we have learned a lot about this storm and are ready to start navigating again (with a reef in the sails for sure).  We plan to keep this momentum so that even if we are moving slowly, we are not moving backwards. In order for the Mariposa students to continue to break the cycle of generational poverty, it is essential for them to have the physical and mental capacity to be leaders during this challenging time.  The basic needs of the young women must be met first and foremost. It is essential for us to protect the investment we have made until these young women can take the helm again when this storm has passed. 

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Volunteer Keara with Mariposa Miranda
Volunteer Keara with Mariposa Miranda

At the Mariposa DR Foundation part of our mission is to inspire the international community to join the global girls movement.  One of the many ways we have done that is by hosting international visitors.  Through their experiences and their advocacy work, the Mariposa girls demonstrate to the visitors how girls are the world’s most powerful force for change and create lasting friendships.  Since traveling is not feasible amid the pandemic, we are continuing this aspect of our mission through the newly created Mariposa Virtual Volunteer Program.

The purpose of the Mariposa Virtual Volunteer Program is to continue to foster that important link of international volunteers that makes our programming so unique, giving individual support to Mariposa students virtually, while simultaneously reengaging past volunteers. As of now, 17 volunteers and 28 Mariposa girls (our complete 5th and 6th grade class) are registered to participate in the program, which will focus on our Eco-Heroe book about the ocean and the environment. The program includes two ½ hour sessions per week, per girl. We launched this unique, exciting program on International Day of the Girl 2020!

In the first few weeks we had pairings that talked about CO2 and about trees in different parts of the world, with Mariposas using their phones to show different trees in their backyards and volunteers in the US doing the same (some with beautiful fall foliage!).  Volunteers shared their expert knowledge and the Mariposa girls showed patience as volunteers sometimes searched for words or expressions in Spanish. One challenge that we do face is that sometimes is just that initial step of connecting. The internet can be unstable and it means we must regularly add data to all of the girls’ phones.

We are excited to be able to continue these connections, even as we can’t be with our volunteers in person. 

Volunteer Abby with Mariposa Dahiana
Volunteer Abby with Mariposa Dahiana
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In April of 2013, Nicole began programs with Mariposa and entered as a shy, introverted young girl, yet, always with a remarkable openness to learn and discover new things. As every girl who begins programming with us, Nicole first learned how to swim in our onsite pool and later, once comfortable in the water, she was taken to the ocean to learn how to navigate the sea and read the oceans currents. Nicole’s early exposure to swimming and our water sports programming at such a young age, allowed her to discover that her passion lies in the sea. After participating in our summer camp surf program for several years in a row, she has proven to be an incredible, innate surfer with a deep love and passion for the ocean. Through the Mariposa DR Foundation, Nicole had the unique opportunity to participate in a special surf program, where she spent a week surfing and mentored alongside with some of the top surfer women in the world. Most recently, she pushed her swim skills by taking an introductory lifeguard and water safety course in our community; giving her the opportunity to hone in on the development of her skills in a practical way.  

Today, Nicole continues to be a very well-rounded, active teen. As one of the founding members in our musical group, Nicole has developed a love for performing and shines on stage as she has learned to play several different instruments. In the summer of 2019, Nicole was a pioneer in our UWC Summer Short course program and pushed herself to begin to learn English as she befriended students from around the world. During the 2019-2020 school year Nicole received a full scholarship at a local international school where she sharpened  her English skills and developed herself more on both an academic and social level. Every semester her teachers commented on her continued progress and her notable drive to succeed. The pandemic did not stop her from learning remotely from home and advancing her technical abilities, ultimately preparing her for her next step in life.  

We are happy to announce that Nicole has been officially accepted to study at the prestigious United World College Costa Rica in the fall!  Raised by a supportive, single mother, Nicole has been taught to be persistent and to always rise after falling down. Most importantly, she has learned that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to and that her openness to learn and try new things is the key to her success. We have no doubt that Nicole's embracing of new experiences will follow her as she begins her journey as a Rise Up Scholar abroad.  

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Organization Information

The Mariposa DR Foundation

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jessica Lawson
Cabarete, Dominican Republic
$264,328 raised of $500,000 goal
 
5,226 donations
$235,672 to go
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