Archives For Dominican Republic

Clients

by Annie Ansley, Field Communications Fellow in the Dominican Republic

I am blessed to get the chance to interview clients almost every week, and what they share never fails to surprise or inspire me. They’ve already taught me more than I could ever learn from simply being in the office. One thing I like to find out is their favorite part of being a client of Esperanza, HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic. Incredibly, they hardly ever mention the money. Check out what clients told me they value most…

“The devotional”

Many say that learning about God is by far the most important feature of Esperanza: The group Bible studies, prayer, and praise songs have brought them closer to God or taught them a specific lesson.

Hearing about Abraham and Isaac, Miguelina was inspired to sacrifice her profits for her church. Hearing the story of the widow and the oil, Angela learned the importance of working diligently at her bakery. When Carolina went to her very first bank meeting, she was going through an economic crisis in her family. Her loan officer spoke on Psalm 37, which sparked Carolina’s desire to return to God and renew her trust in Him.

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Luis

Join HOPE in celebrating the clients featured in this year’s gift catalog, men and women using the gifts God has placed in their hands—talents, dreams, and hard work—to provide for their families and give back to their communities.

Luis has always considered himself an entrepreneur, selling construction materials while also working as a repairman and construction worker. One night, in a dream, his pastor challenged him, “Why don’t you start a business right in front of your house?” With his understanding of the materials needed for construction projects, Luis felt confirmed in his vision to open a hardware store. He would need startup capital, but he knew God would provide—He’d been faithful before.

Faithfulness and forgiveness

Luis grew up in a batey—a settlement of predominantly Haitian migrant laborers—working alongside his father in the sugar cane fields around San Pedro, Dominican Republic. When he was 6, his mother left their family. Often neglected by his father, Luis prayed fervently, “God, I need to leave. … Please help me.” At just 11 years old, Luis left to apprentice as a construction worker in a nearby town. He worked hard and learned to survive, but life changed completely when, as a young adult, he became a Christian. As his faith grew, he felt God calling him to find and forgive his father, now blind. Luis attributes this to Christ’s work in his life, saying, “It is God who allows us to forgive.”

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by Alisa Hoober, Recruitment and Retention Manager

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic to visit HOPE’s local partner, Esperanza International, and hear clients tell their stories. Early one morning, we drove down a dirt path along the Rio Chavon, which separates plush villas on one side of the river and the poorest of the poor on the other side, to the village of Boca de Chavon within the region of La Romana. We were there to visit a group of 10 women who have named their group “The Power of Israel.”

We quietly observed the group’s loan meeting, watching the 5W’s (welcome, worship, Word, work, wrap-up) in action, and admired the leadership of the Esperanza staff member, Vladimir. When the meeting was over, we had an opportunity to meet the women and hear about their businesses. Our group was eager to learn about why they joined the group and what made their businesses successful.

We asked our translator to please ask the group of women what has been the biggest difference in their lives since joining this group. The question was translated, and there were a variety of different answers from the group, including increased inventory for their business, improvements to their homes, and increased ability to feed their families. Then, Isabelle, one of the founding members of the group, stood up. She was a quiet women but received the attention of the group. They silenced as she spoke with conviction. She said:

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wilson-family

by Brant Wilson, Seventh Grader and Experience HOPE Trip Participant

In January, Doug and Amy Wilson traveled with their three sons—Brant (11), Sam (9), and Nate (8)—to the Dominican Republic on an Experience HOPE Trip to learn more as a family about global poverty and ways to address it. Since returning from the D.R., Brant (pictured above, second from left) has spoken on a number of occasions about his experience, and here he shares how the trip shaped his perspective on poverty.

In January of this year, my family and I were sitting in our airplane in Indianapolis, waiting for takeoff. We were first going to fly to New York, then from there we would go to the Dominican Republic. At this point our whole family didn’t really know what to expect, or at least I know I didn’t. It was as if we were about to walk into a cave. We knew we were going in, and we knew nothing bad would happen, but we couldn’t see what was in there. We were venturing into the unknown.

wilson-family-eddWhile in the D.R. we were transported in an old school bus. We traveled on dirt roads, feeling every ditch and crevice, and headed to our first bank meeting. As we pulled into the town, I was shocked by the poverty. Every floor literally was dirt, and the roofs were made out of that wavily bent metal that you pretty much only see on roofs of small huts. As we came to a stop, many Dominican children peered into the windows of our bus, some jumping up and down in excitement. As we were exiting the bus, I remarked to my mom, “I thought this was only in the movies.”

This brings me to my second point. The people we met in the D.R. are, in many ways, very different than us. We don’t ever really see poverty like that, except in the movies. None of us have to worry about the kitchen floor turning to mud every time it rains or all the flies on our food. One of the biggest things that I noticed, though, was how similar we are. Before I went there, I guess I didn’t really view them as people; I viewed them more as numbers. But when I was with Dominicans and heard them speak and saw them play and learn at school, I realized that there really isn’t much difference between myself and them. They all have passions, hobbies, personalities, dreams, and hope. Yes, hope!

This was, I thought, the most amazing part of the trip. No one I met was in despair at their conditions. They all had hope. They all were ready for change, and they all knew what it would take. They knew they would have to work, and they knew it would be hard, but they knew they could do it. This is something we–we who think we have everything compared to them–need. No one I have ever met has had such a beautiful desire in their heart for anything. So next time you look at a chart about poverty, or hear someone talk about how much you have compared to those people, I encourage you not to think about them as numbers, but as people, people that you could probably learn a lesson from. A lesson about hope.

Visit HOPE’s website to learn more about how you and your family can participate in a similar Experience HOPE Trip.

brant-wilsonBrant Wilson is a seventh grader at The Oaks Academy, a Christ-centered school in Indianapolis, IN, that is intentionally racially and economically diverse. He loves music, writing, and most of all, his friends.

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By Annie Rose Ansley, Field Communications Fellow in the Dominican Republic

A fundamental component of Dominican life, whether in the middle of bustling city streets or tucked away in the most remote, rural community, is the colmado. A colmado is a small corner store, or the Dominican equivalent of a mini-mart. And they truly are on almost every corner; the stores are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in New York City.

Two of the three clients with Esperanza (HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic) that I’ve interviewed thus far were, incidentally, colmado owners. People in their neighborhoods can stop by for fresh bread, a bag of chips, a soda, seasoning mix, eggs, candy. . .  Some colmado workers also have bikes and deliver–for free!–to your door, which is especially convenient when you need another 5-gallon water jug. However, colmados aren’t mainly about convenience; they’re mainly about community.

In the U.S., the goal is “get in, get out”; in the D.R., it’s more of a “come in, hang out” mentality. I have been shocked at the number of customers I’ve seen at several tiny colmados; they seem to arrive from nowhere, gathering in front of the store, in no rush to leave.

colmadoAt times they share a just-purchased snack or drink, or perhaps they start a game of dominoes or chess (can you imagine a chess match going on inside your local 7-Eleven?). Many colmados keep these games behind the counter and let you borrow them, along with a few plastic chairs; a game will often draw a crowd of spectators.

Then there are the “colmadones”—same concept, but a little larger and with much louder music, allowing them to transform into natural party spots at night. Locals gather there to spend their evenings together. When Hamilton and I had just arrived in Santo Domingo, we were searching for bottled water downtown and were afraid to enter the extremely noisy and crowded colmadón near our hotel. (Wait, what? I’m supposed to be able to pick up groceries here right now?)

There is definitely a beauty to this colmado culture. The stores meet even more of a social need than a physical one; they are a nucleus of community activity. Dominicans are very outgoing people (I particularly love their custom of greeting everyone when they get on the bus!), and they clearly see the importance of human connection and fellowship. For them, a tiny grocery store is a perfect place to hang out, laugh, and catch up with neighbors. And unlike many of us, they feel like they have time to spare.

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As a child, Ramona Rodriguez didn’t have the opportunity to attend school or learn to read. Though she refused to let illiteracy hold her back, the challenge cemented Ramona’s determination that her children would never face that obstacle in life. Whatever sacrifices she must make, her four children would go to school.

That resolve propelled Ramona, even as she mourned the untimely death of her husband and the father of her still-young children. As a single mother in Villa Mella, Dominican Republic, she worked multiple jobs—selling cleaning supplies and clothing and tending other people’s homes—to ensure she could feed her children and send them to school.

After several years, Ramona remarried, but her drive to provide never wavered. Ramona’s mother raised her to believe that nothing can be accomplished without the Lord—and Ramona now sees how He blessed her with an indomitable spirit, strong faith, and innate business sense that have helped her become the successful businesswoman she is today.

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