Latest update

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dominican Republic experienced some of the strongest and longest lockdowns in the world. School closure periods in the country were at least double the global average, exacerbating learning inequalities for children in poverty.

Most child development centres are gradually returning to in-person activities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 287,600 food packs and 157,400 hygiene kits have been delivered by local workers to families in poverty.

After extended periods without access to their offices, local staff are now working hard to print and translate thousands of letters from supporters to their sponsored children. These words of hope and encouragement from sponsors are incredibly meaningful to staff, sponsored children and their families. We anticipate that communication between children in the Dominican Republic and their sponsors will start to become much more regular.

_Watch the latest video update from the Dominican Republic below to learn more. _

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Country update

How is Compassion currently operating in the Dominican Republic?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Compassion centres in the Dominican Republic have begun to resume to their usual program activities. Local church partners are also providing spiritual and emotional support to children and families through phone calls, video calls and home visits.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    Some letters continue to be delayed in the Dominican Republic during the pandemic. 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 as normal in the Dominican Republic.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for staff, children and families in the Dominican Republic.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray that children, youth and caregivers experiencing mental health challenges will experience God's unending peace.
  • Pray for comfort for a child who is grieving the loss of his father, and another grieving the loss of her mother.
  • Pray for strength and encouragement for the family of a young girl who is unable to walk, move or talk.
  • Pray that God would bless Kelvin and provide him with the opportunities he needs to grow and become all that God has called him to be.
  • Pray for peace, protection and comfort for Jorgeli as he undergoes open-heart surgery.
  • Pray that Maria would know God's deep love for her as she receives treatment for anorexia.
  • Pray for healing for Angel as he recovers from a kidney transplant operation.
  • Pray for courage and wisdom for Fran as he seeks to share God's love with his family.
  • Pray for children, families and churches affected by heavy rains and flooding.
  • Pray for the local and national leaders in the Dominican Republic as they make decisions.
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 COVID-19 pandemic, some centres in the Dominican Republic are still unable to host large gatherings. Staff members continue to conduct home visits, small group activities and make phones calls to check on families, all while obeying social distancing guidelines.

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

21%

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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Stories from Compassion around the world

14 Mar, 2018

Why Do My Sponsored Child's Letters Sound the Same?

It can be disappointing if your sponsored child hasn’t responded to your questions or even mentioned the letter you sent them. Here’s why this could be happening, plus handy tips to prevent it. .. Read more

07 Sep, 2016

10 Eye-Opening Photos of Classrooms In the Developing World

Most classroom in Australia look fairly similar. Although they might be decorated differently, you can pretty much expect to see the same things—some desks, a board, and maybe some computers. But what about the classrooms of children in Compassion’s programs? We all know education varies across the world, but so do the classrooms! .. Read more

12 Apr, 2018

What Possessions Do Children Living in Poverty Treasure Most?

From remote, isolated tribal communities to bustling cities and crowded slums, 10 children in our Child Sponsorship Program share their treasured possessions. These are their beautiful, surprising and funny answers... Read more