Overwhelmed by tropical mountains and white sand beaches, the Dominican Republic is a beautiful country making up the eastern two-thirds of the island Hispaniola. Haiti occupies the other third of this Caribbean island about 600 miles southeast of Florida. During much of its history the Dominican Republic has been ruled by dictators and by other countries. However, the free elections of the last four decades have contributed to the recent economic growth of the country. Farming is the main industry on this mountainous island. Coffee and cacao (used to make chocolate) grow in the mountains while sugar cane, bananas, tobacco, and avocados grow on the plains.Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492 and Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is not only the first European city founded in the Western Hemisphere, but it is also home to the oldest university, the University of Santo Domingo. Spanish culture still plays a large role in the Dominican Republic along with a strong African influence, provided chiefly from Haiti.
The Students International construction ministry primarily focuses on helping families with limited resources build or make improvements on their houses. In most cases, the families are asked to come up with the materials for the project, and we supply the tools and help with the labor. Outreach participants working at the construction ministry may dig footers, lay block, mix and pour concrete, and do basic carpentry. In addition to community work, our construction site also builds and does maintenance for our ministry sites within Students International. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Construction.
The dentistry site in Jarabacoa provides dental care to people in a traditional dental clinic setting. Vanesa performs cleanings, extractions, and normal dentistry care, while also sharing with her patients about God’s love. She also leads outreaches in rural communities where dental care is less accessible and affordable, as well as teaching dental hygiene to children in the public school system.
Students at this site will work alongside Vanesa assisting her in clinical visits. Students also may visit local schools and give instruction for good dental hygiene. Another key responsibility is calming fear in children who visit the dentist site by reading books, praying, and playing. An outreach participant in this site will be offered a chance to experience many facets of ministry, thru practical ways as well as relational care. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Dentistry.
Pre-Escolar El Callejon is located in a rural community of displaced people whose community was destroyed in 1998 by hurricane George. The preschool has an enrollment of twenty-four 3 & 4 year old children. Children in the school are taught basic foundational skills, including math and reading. The children are also taught about the God who created them and the world we live in, as well as given a love for learning. Our goal in the pre-school is to prepare these children to break the norms of public education in this country by equipping them to be successful students, as well as to plant the seeds of knowledge of God and his goodness. Participants will help with school organization, teaching, preparing meals, and assisting the teachers in the daily routine of the school. The school also runs a tutoring center after noon where outreach participants are able to help immensely. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Education.
Pre-Escolar – Los Higos is a preschool in the small farming village of Los Higos, located in a mountainous community just outside of Jarabacoa. Kids in this school are taught basic educational skills, and well as being introduced to the gospel. The school also runs a tutoring center in the afternoons, focusing on kids and adults who need help with reading skills. Participants assist the teachers in daily activities including classes, meals, and tutoring. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Education.
Students International preschool at Mata Gorda is located in a poor farming community with a beautiful view of the mountains. Generations of families without a relationship with God have produced drug and alcohol problems and fractured family structures. Our school exists to help shape the next generation of families by providing education and the knowledge of who God is. Our teachers focus on creating an environment that encourages learning, and sharing the truth of God’s word to the kids at a young age. Participants help with daily school activities as well as tutoring in the afternoons. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Education.
Students International’s Centro Especial Genesis is a school for mental and physically challenged children and is the only school of its kind in the area. There, thirty children with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and severe learning disabilities are given the opportunity to learn in a loving and accepting environment. Outreach participants work in coordination with dedicated staff to assist each child in achieving specific educational and behavioral goals set for each child in the class. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Education.
Our medical site sees patients in the local public hospital and a private clinic. Students at this site will help with patient care, observe the public health system, assist with vaccination programs and aide in community health education. We also lead medical outreaches in rural communities where health care is less accessible and affordable. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Health Care.
The community health site operates in the local rural communities surrounding Jarabacoa. In addition to regularly scheduled medical clinics, the site also helps to educate people on healthcare, nutrition, baby care, personal hygiene, and other health related issues. Students can expect to participate and plan medical clinics and presentations alongside the site leader. Students will also have many opportunities to experience the Dominican culture through home and community visits. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Health Care.
Our microfinance ministry works with women in several communities around Jarabacoa. The site provides savings accounts, small business loans, and financial education to women with the deliberate intention of sharing The Gospel. Women in the program go through an education period of 4 weeks and then receive small loans averaging $200. In weekly meetings thereafter, they have a Bible study, discuss issues in their businesses, and pay back their loans. In addition to the weekly meetings, the site reaches out to the women thru personal visits and spiritual care. Participants help in every aspect of the site, and can expect to be challenged both spiritually and socially, as you visit some of the poorest areas where SI ministers. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Microfinance.
The social work site in El Callejon builds unity among women and teenage girls through home visits, Bible study, craft projects, and a various other activities. Most women in the site come because of brokenness, abuse, or neglect in their home. By teaching biblical principles concerning self-confidence, responsibility, sexual purity, wise decision-making, and character development, the women’s lives are transformed. In no other site do we see such radical changes in lives and homes. Participants can expect to be challenged in relating to women of another culture, and will be challenged to do so in a very personal manner. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Social Work.
The Social Work site in Los Higos attempts to create a nurturing environment for women by extending grace into tough circumstances. Women in the site are taught about biblical principles for everyday life thru bible studies, classes, and home visits. In addition, the women are taught practical skills that can help them earn a living for their family. Participants can expect to have plenty of face to face time with the women in the site, learning about a very different culture, while also being given opportunities to share about Jesus and His message for them. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Social Work.
Leo leads small groups of boys ranging in ages from 7 to 15 teaching them biblical principles that apply to all areas of life. The groups are centered around biblical teaching, and the goal for all of the groups is to see the next generation of men be changed into the likeness of God. In addition to bible studies, Leo also uses games and other activities to engage the boys. A large amount of time is also spent visiting homes, learning about the families of the boys and the communities from which they come. Participants will have a chance to lead a bible study, organize games, and meet with families. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Social Work.
Through the women’s sports site, SI is able to visit rural communities and reach young girls who would otherwise already be looking to start a family and get married. With that, we offer a program where the girls can be involved with a group of similar young women who want to break the generational norms of this culture. Outreach participants will be involved in playing volleyball with the young women in the community. Through hard work and faithfulness, the girls are also offered a chance to play for a varsity volleyball team, which competes with other teams in the area. In addition, the site assists girls in being accepted to private schools so they can receive a better education than that offered in the public school system. Participants will help with practices, English classes, and bible studies, as well as get a chance to play alongside the girls. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Sports.
The purpose of this site is to use sports, particularly baseball, as a way to develop relationships with the young men and boys through which the Gospel can effectively be communicated. Although the site typically concentrates on baseball, it sometimes can include basketball and soccer. Daily bible studies and home visits contribute to achieving the goal of changing lives. Participants will be used to help with the bible studies and practices, as well as share their own testimony to the boys in the site. Learn more about how Students International is ministering in Sports.
Andrew Grigg, Student, James Madison University