Esperanza is a small inland town in the northeast region of the Dominican Republic. It is a smoke-filled little city encased in rice fields and plantain orchards. As of the 2002 census, the municipality had a total population of 70,588 inhabitants, 52,732 living in its urban settlements and 17,856 in its rural districts. No comprehensive census has been conducted since, but locals estimate there are well over 100,000 inhabitants. Esperanzans experience the same social problems as most Dominican cities; underfunded healthcare and education systems, rampant unemployment, a high rate of teen pregnancy, disintegrated families, the sizable though marginalized presence of illegal Haitian immigrants, blatant government corruption, unreliable electricity, an underserviced sewer system, and a constantly rising cost of living that leaves more and more Dominicans living uncomfortably close to the poverty level.
Most families survive off of remittances sent back to the island by the constant stream of Dominican immigrants who move to the US or Europe. Indeed, despite its relatively small size, the Dominican Republic houses the fourth largest market or remittances in Latin America, and has the third largest rate of remittances per capita. No doubt these injections of capital alleviate poverty levels, but remittances are not a major factor in promoting economic development in any country. In fact, multiple studies have shown quite the opposite- a local dependency on international remittances can have a negative impact on national development.
In the city of hope, the biggest hope is that the young people will have the chance to leave, and eventually take the older folks with them.
The Good Samaritan, Inc exists to give the children of Esperanza the HOPE and SELF-ESTEEM that they need to prosper against all odds. They need to know that they are special- and that just like anyone else, THEY CAN ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS!
Being an international volunteer and investing in the lives of these little ones shows these children that they have something to offer the world- that they can teach others and learn about the beauty of life through intercultural exchanges.
They matter. So do you!
Service-Learning Trip Outcomes:
Understand the unique challenges faced by developing communities in the areas of education, public health, and micro-economics
Learn about practical sustainable development strategies and implementation
Evaluate international development strategies via first-hand experience
Integrate classroom knowledge to support real-world solutions
Expand Spanish language fluency
Gain experience teaching English in an international setting
Learn how to be productive in the context of an impoverished community
Explore the legacy of African diaspora in Latin America
Increase your leadership aptitudes- communication, teamwork, project management