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Our mission in the Dominican Republic's North Coast town of Puerto Plata is to assist poverty stricken Dominicans and their children by providing the resources needed to help lift families out of poverty. We believe one of the primary ways to do this is thru financial assistance for private school facilities expenses including teachers, school supplies, and food. We also believe in assisting where we can with costs of construction of single family homes for destitute familes and higher education scholarships.


In elementary education, unfortunately, there is a shortage of teachers, facilities and funds. Many poor Dominicans are not trained for different types of work which makes it difficult for them to provide their children with an education that will allow them to compete in the local work market. Those who are educated and receive specific training get the most desirable jobs. Therefore, providing their children with a quality education is one of the most desired goals for parents, but the high costs of education often make this goal impossible. Most families cannot afford to buy their children the basic school supplies that are required in order to attend a public school. Examples of items that each child must have

include: proper shoes, school & P.E. uniforms, and notebooks & pencils.



Dominican Starfish USA works primarily with two privately run Christian elementary schools in the Dominican Republic both called Centro D Cuidado Infantil Y Educacion Es Mi Siguenu. They are directed by Jose Fernandez.  About 180 poor Dominican and Haitian children attend Jose’s schools for free, and children at both schools receive one small meal each school day. Due to the large enrollment and very little funding, Jose must budget carefully to pay for teachers, school supplies, and provide food for school meal programs. Jose's schools and the children desperately need more help.


Having the opportunity to go to school is one of the surest ways for a poor child to get ahead when living in the Dominican Republic. In order to assist Jose’s two elementary schools, we are currently raising funds to help pay for teachers, school supplies and food needed for next school year. We hope you will give generously. Your gift brings hope not only to the children you help, but also their families and communities.




A study conducted with the Dominican economy ministry found that only 30 percent of kids finish primary school and that only

18 percent finish secondary school on time. Those schools are in poor shape: Nearly half have no drinking water and nearly 60 percent have no toilets.


Poverty remains a widespread phenomenon in the Dominican Republic. Approximately one fifth of all Dominicans live in shacks, the vast majority of them without access to running water, proper sanitation and electricity. Roughly 20 per cent of the Dominican Republic's population are struggling to make a living on less than two US dollars a day. In a country that is home to hundreds of luxury tourist resorts, one in five citizens is chronically undernourished. About 13 percent of Dominicans are unemployed and

more than 40 percent live below the poverty line. With such wide-spread poverty, it's no small wonder kids are having trouble

obtaining any kind of meaningful education.


Who are the country’s poor people and where are they?

Poor rural people include women and men who are heads of households, small-scale farmers, landless farmers, micro-entrepreneurs, small merchants, agricultural workers and laborers for rural service operators. The poorest of the poor include Dominicans of Haitian origin living in the border areas. They are particularly vulnerable, and they suffer not only from low incomes and poor living conditions but also from social exclusion. In all groups, women who are heads of households and children are extremely vulnerable. Because they are without proper documentation such as birth certificates and identity papers, about 20 per cent of the poorest Dominican families do not benefit from most types of social assistance programs. The highest incidences of poverty and extreme poverty occur in the Dominican-Haitian border regions and particularly in the mountainous areas and also in the lower valleys where there is a high concentration of slums, called bateys, settled by extremely poor Dominicans of Haitian origin and migrant seasonal workers from Haiti who work on the sugar cane plantations.


Why are they poor?

The persistence of rural poverty is the result of several factors, including government priority given to developing the tourism, industry and services sectors during the last decade. Agricultural productivity is low, and government investment in social and productive development in rural areas is limited. Natural crises such as hurricanes and tropical storms are a recurring threat to rural zones and to the living conditions and incomes of the rural population. The country’s poor farmers have little land and their production is too low to enable them to maintain their families. A large number of small-scale subsistence farmers and their families have to seek off-farm employment or another income-generating activity to supplement household incomes. In the Dominican Republic, as in many Latin American countries, extremely poor rural households increasingly depend for survival on non-farm income in addition to income from farming. Source: IFAD

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