Planting Hope Against Violence
Written by Plant With Purpose on November 28, 2011 in General
by Audrie Peveler
This fall I have had the awesome privilege to study abroad in the Dominican Republic. My love for Plant With Purpose and then interning with the incredible Aly Lewis were a big part of what brought me here. On Friday a friend from my study abroad program and I set out to the Plant With Purpose (although here it is still Floresta) office to learn more about what has been done and what is being done where Plant With Purpose began. I threw on my official t-shirt, and we were off.
After taking a bus line we didn’t know existed, we were dropped off at a gas station and decided to get something to eat in true Dominican fashion. Over incredibly rich chocolate milkshakes, my friend and I discussed how that date, November 25th, was the International Day of No Violence Against Women, which originated in the Dominican Republic after the Mirabal sisters were murdered for standing up against the Dominican Dictator, Trujillo. Part of the conversation included our confusion at how a country with a history of remarkable women still has such a strong division in gender equality. Almost every day there is a new story on the news of a woman being killed by her husband or boyfriend, or killing herself.
We walked a ways, hopped on the back of a motorcycle to get to a van, crammed into that van with 10-15 of our closest friends (well, they were after we shared that much oxygen!), we were finally at the stop we were supposed to be at, waiting for a man neither of us knew. While we were waiting, a parade of young Dominican girls and boys passed through. They carried signs and yelled cheers that made their stance clear: the violence has got to stop. The parade cleared and the man we had been waiting for showed up in his truck. Following the pattern of our adventurous day, we hopped in the vehicle with the stranger, hoping for the best.
A few minutes later we were in the Floresta office, talking to the directors about their work here and the role each of them plays in the process of helping rural farmers out of their impoverished state. In the spirit of the holiday, I asked if they could shed light on what they do to promote gender equality in the communities they work with. The hope that was kindled by the parade of young people grew stronger as I listened to the ways Plant With Purpose encourages women to be a part of and even lead the groups that they work with, whether that be working in the field with the men, or leading savings groups to improve the quality of life of rural Dominicans.
When you give to Plant With Purpose-plant a tree, buy a family of breeding bunnies, provide a solar-powered oven for a family in need- you are giving to so much more than just replanting trees. The well being of the families Plant With Purpose works with is improving, as is their self-esteem. Be encouraged that your partnership is giving women a reason to continue to live, and teaching men how to be Godly examples. Violence against women in the Dominican Republic will only end when Dominicans choose for themselves that they want it to end. Your support of organizations like Plant With Purpose encourages that change.