The Dominican Republic has one of the fastest GDP growth rates in the Caribbean, but rural communities still lag far behind. In fact, 56% of people in rural Dominican communities live be¬low the poverty line (CIA World Factbook). And while the D.R. is becoming wealthier, a growing gap between rich and poor leaves the poorest half of Dominicans receiving less than 20% of the country’s income.
In rural communities, poverty is linked directly to environmental degradation. Deforestation and unsustainable agriculture techniques deplete the soil and decrease crop yields. Farmers then turn to cutting trees to sell as charcoal or firewood to care for their families, continuing a vicious cycle of poverty and deforestation. As farming families lose hope, many head to the city, where they often wind up in urban slums repeating a cycle of poverty.
The area near the border of the D.R. and Haiti consists of some of the poorest, most deforested regions of both countries. In many ways, the trans-border communities have been forgotten as the D.R. and Haiti both focus on the growth of their urban areas.
Farmers we partner with in the D.R. have had great success in reforestation efforts. In fact, the Dominican government turns to Plant With Purpose to help oversee national reforestation programs. Partnering farmers have also had success in their sustainable agriculture efforts, including food production and cash crops such as cacao and coffee. Village Savings and Loan Associations are increasing the economic well-being of families, and groups are discovering what they are capable of accomplishing together. Through church-mobilization efforts, local congregations are working with community members to meet needs through locally led efforts such as literacy training programs.
In a village known as Kilometer 61 is a community of farmers whose cash crop is oregano. Thirty of the farmers also participate in a weekly Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) program, where they come together to build their savings and create credit opportunities for on another. Juana Cruz is a member of the savings group.
Juana shares, “I used to live tormented by the burden of vicious debt and addictions. I asked God to liberate me from smoking and gambling. I was also a slave to tarot readings. I used to spend all of my money on my addictions, and as a result my financial situation was terrible. When Plant With Purpose came with the Village Savings and Loan Association program, everything changed in my life. I’ve learned the importance of savings. I am grateful to God and I will never stop saving. My life has been transformed! We have opportunities to borrow money to resolve any need, even to strengthen businesses. Plant With Purpose is a catalyst of blessings for our community. The results are impressive!”
Plant With Purpose is working to get at the root causes of rural poverty and to help people improve their well-being. It is the families and individuals we partner with that are doing the hard work to lift themselves out of poverty. Instead of providing charity, we provide opportunities. And as people take advantage of those opportunities, God is changing lives in rural communities worldwide.
Sponsor A Village
By sponsoring a village for as little as $1 a day, you can make a lasting impact on an entire community as they are given the tools and training to lift themselves out of poverty. Sponsor A Village in the Dominican Republic today and change the future for people like Juana Cruz.