The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular international tourist destinations in the Caribbean, yet poverty and inequality remain major issues here. This is especially true in the rural areas where Cross Catholic Outreach works and where so many local families don’t have safe homes, schools, healthcare, basic sanitation, or clean water.
We’re reminded of the story of Yeidi Paula, a single Dominican mother living in the town of Las Parillas. We first met Yeidi sitting outside her family’s makeshift shack trying to communicate with her toddler using hand signs. We learned that Yeidi was born mute and that she and her little one lived with her father, who’d built the shack nearly four decades ago. It had been repaired and rebuilt countless times since then but still had a dirt floor with gaps through the wooden slats, not to mention very little protection from the wind and rain of constant storms. To make matters worse, there wasn’t enough room in the shack for the whole family so members had to share beds.
Fortunately, Yeidi’s family is one of the 24 families whose lives are being transformed by safe and secure housing. Cross Catholic Outreach and FUNDASEP of the Catholic Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic have helped construct over 80 water systems and more than 1,000 houses throughout the diocese. This year, our sturdy houses will benefit 110 needy men, women, and children, including Yeidi’s family, in the Dominican Republic.
Families in the Dominican Republic, like Yeidi’s family, often struggle with basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. Without access to clean water and sanitation for waste, serious health issues arise, yet quality healthcare is hard to find or afford in rural parts of the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Dominican Republic poverty statistics increase as the country’s population increases because there is more competition for limited jobs and other resources.
As an island nation, the Dominican Republic also faces the threat of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. The increasing number of natural disasters in the region puts the already-strained agricultural sector at risk, and the government has traditionally invested more in disaster response rather than disaster prevention that could save both money and lives.
More than one-third of people in the Dominican Republic live below the poverty line and are unable to provide their families’ basic needs. The Dominican Republic 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. In recent years, as high as 22.9 percent of the Dominican Republic population has lived on less than $3.20 U.S. dollars per day, and much of the country does not have access to sanitary toilets or clean water.
Fortunately, local and international organizations are paying attention to the Dominican Republic poverty crisis and helping the nation become more sustainable. The Dominican government has experienced substantial economic growth in recent years, which can help expand the middle class and promote a more profitable environment for local businesses. The government is also placing a higher priority on equity and 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 is committed to assisting the poor and fighting poverty in the Dominican Republic. Aiding the poor is one of our core values, and providing safe homes is one of the best ways to help families here rise above poverty and overcome economic barriers.
Accordingly, we are partnering with Bishop Jose Grullón Estrella in the Catholic Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana to build new homes in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic. These homes aren’t just sets of walls to sleep in; they offer opportunities for safety and security and serve to materially and spiritually transform the poor and their communities. Inside safe, clean, and loving homes, Dominicans can better focus on providing for their families, educating their young, and seeking the medical care they need.
While we have made progress in addressing the startling Dominican Republic poverty rate, there is much work yet to be done, and we can’t do it alone. Any amount of life-changing aid that you can provide to help the poor in the Dominican Republic will help local families more than you can imagine, so please consider joining our cause.