Strong Women in the Dominican Republic

Visiting Anny Photo: ©2014 World Vision

Visiting Anny
Photo: ©2014 World Vision

In March Women of Vision traveled to visit World Vision projects in the Dominican Republic. Here the team shares some of their impressions and stories of strong women who they met on their trip!

Our trip to the Dominican Republic was blessed with many strong women! Claudia Martinez, from World Vision Dominican Republic was our wonderful interpreter, Beth Yeager, from WVUS, was our leader. Our team consisted of: Stephanie and Camille Ingram and Judy Wonning (from WOV Colorado), Valerie Glass and Brandy Phillips-Brandon (from the Triad Chapter in North Carolina), and Mary Lynn Moser (from the Southwest Florida Chapter).

“The Desperate Women” – After a long ride in the country we came to a fenced area. Several women were there to meet us. Their micro enterprise project is the raising of goats. They have been working at it for several years and have a herd of 150. Once they reach 300 goats, they will start to produce cheese. They have built a shelter and a pen and the goats graze on land the women chose carefully because of its water source. Their leader explains that when they applied for the loans they needed a name so they called themselves “The Desperate Women.” They don’t feel desperate anymore: they are strong, proud and hopeful, a perfect example of the power of micro loans. ~Judy Wonning

“I wanted to save a child’s life, but she saved mine.” – By the third day, we had met four sponsored children. The visits had gone well although most of the children have been very shy and one little girl was quite afraid. (And, oh, how I wish I spoke Spanish!) Now it is Anny’s turn. As usual, my anxiety has no basis. I recognize her immediately. She is sporting the bright purple outfit her mother had purchased for her with the Christmas money we had sent and that she had been photographed in for a thank you we received promptly thereafter. She has her mother with her for support and I am so glad to have Camille with me.

We had brought Anny a doll and to think how I had agonized over that choice! Was it to be a doll with hair, a baby doll, a black, white or brown doll? How clueless could I have been to think this child would even care? She had never owned a doll! They joined us for lunch and Anny ate until her stomach hurt all the while caring for her new baby doll. She chatted constantly with everyone at the table, not knowing we could’t understand her. Thank goodness for Claudia, our guide and interpreter and totally dedicated WVDR employee, who informed us that Anny said, “You all look alike!” Her confidence shows a strong woman in training. We were given a t-shirt as we left. It says in Spanish, “I wanted to save a child’s live, but she saved mine.” What else can I say? ~Stephanie Ingram

Francia – What one young woman can do! Francia’s blue house is in the destitute village of Cuchilla, near the Haitian border. As tiny Francia Simon, 19, greets us, we see that “good things come in small packages.” Francia tells her story: At the age of 12, she found herself faced with possible exclusion from school because she did not have a birth certificate. In response, she carried out extensive research and showed great perseverance in pursuing her own registration. She succeeded and gained lasting access to secondary education. Since then, Francia has been using the knowledge and strength she acquired through this process to help other children without birth certificates to attain state recognition. She has helped over 185 children receive an official name and nationality, increasing their self esteem and giving them the chance to lead a more secure and fulfilling life.

At age 16, a World Vision worker nominated Francia for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She won and traveled to Norway to receive her prize! With the prize money several new homes and a community center were built in Cuchilla. ~Camille Ingram

Photo: ©2014 World Vision

Photo: ©2014 World Vision

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