Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a new hope.

one of my new goals with the "re-living" of this blog is to connect people to organizations that are doing amazing things in this country. i wrote about my visit to cabral and baez hospital with midwives for the dominican republic (a visit that has convicted me in ways i never imagined - more on that in future posts). and i've got a ton more people doing good in this country. 

a few years ago, i was tutoring out of my house. i'd get calls from people all of the time - i was full, blessed by enough work to pay the bills and some extra. i had tutored a few ex-pat kids and some dominicans. i was used to the work and i liked it. i never imagined changing jobs - it was so easy, work from home, be with my kids and make decent money. 

but, one day i got a call from a woman looking for a more permanent tutoring situation. i was interested - the ideas they had caught my attention. and i went through a process with a group of women, talking about education and what it means. in the end the job didn't pan out, but i learned so much about myself and about what my beliefs are through the process that i was just grateful to have been involved.

one of the women was joy. a missionary living with her family, and working in a school for impoverished children in la vega. she wanted more, though, and i could see it in her. she was convicted to serve the girls in her community - the ones who are battered, abused and left behind. to be honest, though, i didn't see it happening. too complicated, too much crazy.

see, there's a problem here. girls are a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. and it doesn't just happen in the most impoverished of neighborhoods. parents looking for a better life encourage their daughters to "marry" foreigners, to only be with the man with a good job or who has money. it doesn't matter about love or even like. 

we have a student/friend who's girlfriend wasn't allowed to see him anymore because "he doesn't have enough money" (the kid was 16 for crying out loud!) and the parents needed her to find someone more stable. it's sad, really. but the worst are when the girls do "marry" (marriage in the dominican republic is a funny thing, and the word spouse is thrown around freely - usually two children are considered "married" if they've have intimate relations), she is considered spoiled goods. they "marry" and when it doesn't work out (because what 13 year old girl can really be a wife?) the family doesn't want her back. so she has nowhere to go.

a coworker of mine, the woman who cleans our building, was "married" at 12 and had three children by 15. He "husband" left her when she was pregnant with the third claiming that she wasn't young enough anymore. she had to make it on her own - three kids and a 5th grade education. now, she's older and her 16 year old daughter has a baby. it's a vicious cycle. 

so back to joy. she recently started a school for girls. and god has been moving in that school and my original skepticism is gone. when i read their facebook page and their updates on their blog, i'm amazed at the power of prayer and the sacrifices people are making to support this organization. new hope is taking in these girls and giving them an education, food, hope. showing them god's love, and preparing them for the future.

so, what's prompted this post of mine?

i'm a big supporter of helping people up instead of giving out. empowering people with education, job opportunities and giving the opportunity for personal responsibility is so much better than handing people things. that forced dependence that so often happens just forces the cycle to continue, while creating independence helps to break it.

i checked out their blog the other day and saw their new project. empowering women by helping them learn a craft to sell in fair trade markets, locally and internationally. Their first project was to make sandals. "Each sandal is hand woven and sewn and takes about three hours to create.  Women are able to earn more than double the average wage in our barrio with all the proceeds supporting the work of New Hope Girls Inc.  We had our first public sale locally Saturday where we sold 25 pairs of sandals! The women were so excited and encouraged." (new hope girls blog). (you can buy them, i think for $25 off the blog or facebook)

i sincerely ask you to check New Hope Girls out, because they're doing amazing things. educating and training and preparing. helping girls learn their real value, not just as a piece of meat with a price-tag. giving women self-confidence and skills that will help them support their families. and doing it with a heart full of love and compassion. 

good things are happening in this country. check them out. 

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