Latest update

The Dominican Republic still has the highest COVID-19 infection rate among Caribbean countries and continues to report a rise in active cases. The country has also been battered this year by tropical storms and hurricanes. The government has reported over 217,277 positive COVID-19 cases and 2719 related deaths as of 4 February. Medical care is limited, with some hospitals at or near full capacity. ICU beds are especially limited. A national curfew is in effect and face masks are required in public spaces.

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COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic

How is Compassion currently operating in the Dominican Republic?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    All Compassion child development centres are closed.

    Staff members are providing physical and emotional support to families, including the delivery of over 163,000 food packs and 74,000 hygiene kits, while complying with guidelines.

    They are also working with local doctors to facilitate telehealth calls with families and have helped provide medical support to more than 9200 individuals. Mentors and tutors are keeping in touch with children and youth through online meetings and social media.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    The majority of letters are delayed in the Dominican Republic, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your sponsored child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in the Dominican Republic. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver, if necessary. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in the Dominican Republic who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray that God would remind the young women of DR0632 and DR0634 of how valued, loved and treasured they are by Him.
  • Wisdom, encouragement and guidance for the leaders of DR0375 as they continue to reach more children to share the love of God.
  • God's wisdom and guidance for the mothers learning to open small businesses to provide for their families at the survival program in DR0720.
  • Pray for churches as they minister to families affected by natural disasters combined with the challenges of the pandemic.
Staying connected in the Dominican Republic

Staying connected in the Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, local church partners have gone above and beyond to raise awareness for the prevention of COVID-19 among families. Some have even connected with local radio stations to spread the message further!   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, all child development centres in the Dominican Republic are temporarily closed to group activities. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in the Dominican Republic

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 5 visit the Compassion centre for eight hours a week.
  • Children aged 6 to 11 attend the centre for six hours a week.
  • Students aged 12 and older attend the centre for four hours a week.
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Compassion Program Activities in the Dominican Republic

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Compassion assisted children in the Dominican Republic typically attend program activities at their local child development centre before or after school. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in the Dominican Republic.

Devotional time - Children are taught to pray.

Spiritual lessons - Children sing songs and learn Bible stories. Children in the Child Sponsorship Program generally receive their own Bible as they join the program.

Break and snack time - Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

Social-emotional lessons - Children learn conflict resolution skills and how to develop healthy self-esteem and a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

Lunch and social time - Children generally receive a nutritious meal every time they visit the centre. A typical meal could include pasta, rice, beans, chicken, wheat flour, oats, soup, meat, mashed potatoes, plantains, milk, chocolate, corn flakes, bread or sausages.

Health lessons - Children are taught practical health and hygiene tips.

Letter writing and career planning - Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests, setting realistic goals for their future.

In addition to Compassion’s curriculum, once or twice a year, students from different child development centres participate in a camping retreat. Older students participate in youth clubs for sport, art, income generation and reading. Parents and caregivers have opportunities to develop vocational skills such as baking, tailoring and computer literacy.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in the Dominican Republic

30%

of the population live below the poverty line

95

mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

In the Dominican Republic, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and more children are vulnerable to child labour and other threats.

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Claimed by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the island became a springboard for the Spanish conquest of South America and the Caribbean.

Spain recognised French control over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years, finally attaining independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. Tensions have simmered between the two nations since.

Historically, the Dominican Republic has relied on exports of sugar, coffee and tobacco. In recent years, however, the rapid development of the tourist industry and service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer.

While many have benefitted from this recent economic growth, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. The poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of the GDP whilst the richest 10 per cent enjoy nearly 40 per cent.

In the past few decades, many Dominicans have flooded from rural areas to the cities. But without skills, families have struggled to get work—with devastating results for children.

Child labour is an ongoing problem in the Dominican Republic. Many families consider it essential for children to learn a trade, but too often they are denied an education and exploited in dangerous conditions. Many parents, desperate to improve the opportunities for their children, have been tricked into sending children away as domestic servants, or duped into prostitution and drug trafficking.

Yet local churches are working to reach the most vulnerable children with the practical, spiritual and emotional support they need to thrive.

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