Poverty in the Dominican Republic & How to Help

The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular international tourist destinations in the Caribbean, but there is another side to Dominican life the tourists do not see — the poverty of the barrios, bateyes and other struggling communities. Cross Catholic Outreach has been drawn to serve in these “out of sight, out of mind” communities, where many families lack safe homes, schools, healthcare, basic sanitation, and clean water.

The story of Yeidi Paula, a single Dominican mother living in the town of Las Parillas, illustrates the kind of people we strive to help. When we first met Yeidi, she was sitting outside her family’s makeshift shack trying to communicate with her toddler using hand signs. Yeidi was born mute, and she and her child lived with her father in a shack built nearly four decades ago. It had been repaired and rebuilt countless times, but without any substantial improvements. It still had a dirt floor and gaps in its wood-slat walls, providing very little protection from the wind and rain during tropical storms.

Fortunately, Yeidi’s family was discovered by Cross Catholic Outreach’s partner in the Dominican Republic — and has since been supplied with safe and secure housing. In fact, with the support of our generous donors, FUNDASEP (the social outreach arm of the Catholic Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana) has been able to construct more than 80 water systems and 1,000 houses throughout the diocese!

We are working with FUNDASEP to implement strategic community transformation programs that will bring long-term growth and empowerment to struggling families.

Related: Hardships and Hazards Faced Due to Natural Disasters in Dominican Republic

Daily Struggles Rural Dominicans like Yeidi Face

Yeidi’s situation is not unique in the Dominican Republic. Thousands of families there struggle with basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, and may live without adequate access to clean water or sanitation facilities to handle waste. While these conditions often lead to serious health issues, quality healthcare is hard to find or afford in rural parts of the Dominican Republic. These hardships are particularly serious for Haitian immigrants and their descendants because they often face numerous roadblocks to earning decent wages and accessing government services.

As an island nation, the Dominican Republic also faces the threat of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. These disasters put the already-strained agricultural sector at risk.

Dominican Republic Poverty Statistics

More than 40% of people in the Dominican Republic live below the poverty line and are unable to provide their families’ basic needs. The Dominican Republic’s poverty rate is even higher in rural areas because local farmers don’t have access to agricultural technology and resources to make farming productive and profitable. The total amount of people living in extreme poverty recently reached 10.4%.

Related: How the Dominican Republic Water Crisis Affects Rural Families

Efforts to Reduce the Dominican Republic Poverty Rate

Fortunately, there is hope for the country’s most vulnerable communities. The Dominican government experienced substantial economic growth in recent years, and it is well positioned to expand the middle class and promote a more profitable environment for local businesses. The government is also placing a higher priority on education to plan for its future. Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations around the world are working in the Dominican Republic to build houses, create schools and provide healthcare to those who need it most. These are all things that can help Dominican families rise above poverty and give their children the best possible lives with the love and compassion of God.

Cross Catholic Outreach’s Work for Dominican Republic Poverty

Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to assisting the poor and fighting poverty in the Dominican Republic. Responding to the needs of the extremely poor is our priority, and providing safe homes is one effective way we can help families rise above poverty and overcome economic barriers.

To achieve these objectives, we are partnering with Father Mike Seis, leader of FUNDASEP in the Catholic Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, to transform communities in rural areas of the Dominican Republic. We also believe strongly in empowerment and involving families in the solutions we help provide. To that end, we work with poor families in ways that strengthen their self-sufficiency. Projects can include everything from repairing homes to building water systems to organizing microenterprise opportunities. We are also committed to improving Dominican health and nutrition through support of Good Samaritan Hospital (Fundación Hospital El Buen Samaritano), located in the Dominican city of La Romana.

While we have made progress in addressing Dominican poverty, there is still work to be done, and we need your help to move this mission of mercy forward. Every gift, large or small, is important and will help ensure our in-country partners’ success. Please support the Church’s life-transforming work among the Dominican Republic’s poor. Your help will accomplish more than you can imagine, so please join our cause!

Related: Fight Poverty in the Caribbean

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.