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
Letting their voices be heard!
Letting their voices be heard!

October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child, a day that aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. We have marked the day every year since the day was established by the UN in 2012, and it is an incredible day for the Mariposas to celebrate how far they’ve come and also share with the world the injustices they face. 

Unfortunately, like many places in the world, the Dominican Republic has a high prevalence of gender based and sexual violence.  This, combined with the worst public education system in the region, makes working towards a better future especially difficult for girls. 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. The overall unemployment rate in the DR is 14%, but is 42% for young women, and women make 44% less than men for equal work. Poverty leads many girls to marry to improve their economic situation, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse and abandonment.  These statistic are ominous, but the Mariposa girls are changing the tide. 

At the Mariposa DR Foundation, we love celebrating the world’s most powerful force for change and each year on International Day of the Girl we celebrate what it means to be a young, educated and determined girl striving towards her goals!  Through film, theatrical productions, creative projects and female empowerment, Mariposas are engaged in thoughtful discussions surrounding the many challenges girls face, such as access to education, early pregnancy, and violence in their homes and community.  We are so proud of these young women for breaking down barriers to fight for their dreams! 

As we finalize our to Day of the Girl celebration preparations we wanted to take a moment to say thank you.  You believe that unleashing the leader in a girl is an important investment and we could not do it without your support.  Thank you.  And Happy International Day of the Girl!

Celebrating with music
Celebrating with music
Most powerful force for change
Most powerful force for change
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Mariposas Practicing Their Leadership Skills
Mariposas Practicing Their Leadership Skills
The Mariposa girls finished off the month of June by hosting a summer camp at the Ruth Plaut school in neighboring Los Brazos. Founded by Dr. Gideon Plaut, this school services children within this community providing schooling during the academic year, and programming and exciting camps during the hot summer months. Our girls had the opportunity to prep and design an engaging week of activities for more than 30 students. As camp counselors, our Mariposa's organized and led outdoor activities, interactive games, crafts and songs. 3 weeks of prep and planning in their leadership class paid off as the girls were phenomenal leaders and service members in their community.
For a few of our girls, this was the first time they were placed in a leadership position, and it was a welcomed learning opportunity as many girls reflected on the patience needed and satisfaction that comes with working with children. Following the camp, on the last two nights of the week our girls stayed overnight at Blue Moon Retreat and took time to reflect on their experience and bond as a group. We are so proud of this group for their efforts and the amazing camp that they put on for the children of this town. We hope that our girls will continue to be change-makers and leaders in their communities! Here's to the inaugural 2019 Ruth Plaut Mariposa Summer Camp!
Icebreakers
Icebreakers
Working as a team
Working as a team
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Viviana Interning at Cabarete Coffee Company
Viviana Interning at Cabarete Coffee Company
Viviana entered our program when she was just 10 years old. She was a love-able little girl whose parents separated and moved often, and who found herself homeless, bouncing around between homes of friends and neighbors and occasionally an abandoned plaza. 
 
Filled with mischievous energy and a smile that would melt anyone’s heart, Viviana struggled for a few years to find her calling, despite trying almost all the programming and activities that Mariposa had to offer.  But when she had the chance to act as a server to the dinner guests at our 2014 Inauguration of the Mariposa Center for Girls, she realized she loved the high-pace and the customer service aspect of the food industry. It was something she excelled at, as she was a natural multitasker.  
 
Seeing this, our Executive Director thought she would be a great asset in the Foundation's coffee shop, Cabarete Coffee. Sure enough, Viviana has taken to every single aspect of the hospitality industry. To help develop her skills she will be taking full time English lessons in the fall and can be visited all summer long as an intern at Cabarete Coffee. At Mariposa DR Foundation we are committed to unleashing the leader in a girl, whatever her goals, passions, and aspirations.  We have no doubt Viviana will be running her own restaurant one day!
Viviana doing some community service work
Viviana doing some community service work
Viviana at the Inauguration Gala
Viviana at the Inauguration Gala
Viviana working the garden
Viviana working the garden
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The original babysitters club
The original babysitters club

About the same time that the Mariposa DR Foundation began working with GlobalGiving, we opened up a space for the littlest sisters of our Mariposas who would not be able to come to programs if they didn't let them tag along, since they were their caretakers. We called this little group "the babysitter's club."  Fast forward to today and they, the little girls of the babysitter's club, are now thriving Mariposas. We would like to thank all of our donors for your consistent and important support, because as you'll see below, it is paying out major dividends.

When Naomi began her days with us she was just seven years old, brought to the Mariposa Center for Girls by her sister who was in charge of babysitting her. Now at 16 years old and a junior in high school,  Naomi has tried out almost every activity Mariposa has to offer. A natural athlete, she has decided to focus on her acrobatic skills and on surfing. She is already earning an income performing at circus shows at local hotels and was on the cover of the Cabarete Responsible Tourism and Investment Guide surfing the perfect wave.  But her ride has not been that simple.

Born into poverty, Naomi spent time back and forth between her mother and father as they were separated for many years. Unfortunately, when they finally got back together her father was killed. Naomi has been through a lot, but it is not her resilience that makes her so special. That is a given for a kid who had the odds stacked against her. Naomi is special because she is a kind, sweet, caring young woman. She enjoys being with her peers and loves her family. We could not be more proud of this little girl who has grown into the most amazing, powerful young woman.  We look forward to seeing what she does next!

Paddling out (photo by Jianca Lazarus)
Paddling out (photo by Jianca Lazarus)
In school with a smile (photo: Amy Martin)
In school with a smile (photo: Amy Martin)
Performing at the Mariposa Center
Performing at the Mariposa Center
With her dad after a performance (Photo: A.Martin)
With her dad after a performance (Photo: A.Martin)
Cabarete Guide Cover (Photo: Jianca Lazarus)
Cabarete Guide Cover (Photo: Jianca Lazarus)
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In July of 2018 the Mariposas participated in the first ever summer basketball camp, led by former collegiate athlete and Princeton Varsity Basketball Captain Vanessa Smith.

After inaugurating our newly paved basketball court, the girls spent 8 weeks playing games, learning teamwork, new skills, and developing a newfound love for the sport. Our camp was offered to close to 70 girls and our court was filled every day with cheers and laughs! The girls loved playing against each other as well as showing off their skills to visiting volunteer groups and even staff members. We ended the summer with a final All-Star game between 12 of the most improved players competing in front of a crowd of their peers. All of the girls left camp with memories of laughter, certificates to celebrate their accomplishments, and pictures to commemorate their success.

For many of the girls, this was their first exposure to basketball and the first opportunity that they were invited to learn the techniques and skills of a sport traditionally dominated by boys and men. A culture of machismo has made basketball courts and other sports inaccessible to girls here in DR. However, our court is different. Our court stands as one of the few on the entire north coast that is exclusively accessible to girls. In line with our mission of empowerment, we are thrilled to be opening these types of opportunities up to our girls and our community and inspire the future basketball stars of the DR. 

Our basketball camp along with our other summer sports programs (surfing, cycling, swimming and softball) are all designed to empower, challenge, and inspire our girls; igniting a passion for fitness and body positivity that aligns with our mission here at the center. MDRF is dedicated to experiential learning and offering a holistic education, which includes physical education. Our sports programs have always been a source of fun, learning, and empowerment for all of the girls. 

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Organization Information

The Mariposa DR Foundation

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jessica Lawson
Cabarete, Dominican Republic
$274,130 raised of $500,000 goal
 
5,333 donations
$225,870 to go
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