The island of Hispaniola is located just south of Cuba, and contains the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic, smaller than many US states in land mass, contains more than 10 million people. It is known for its beautiful beaches and vacation destinations. Within a matter of a few hours you can go from the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, to a mountain range containing luscious rain forests, towering waterfalls, and the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte. It is BEAUTIFUL!
Baseball is the sport of choice for most young boys. It is where many of their hopes and dreams lie because it is seen as a ticket out of poverty. Many young boys drop out of school at an early age to train, hoping for a shot at the big leagues. If you visit during baseball season, visit a local minor league team to get a feel for the love of the game!
In spite of all of the amazing reasons to visit the DR, the country is still considered 3rd world due to extreme poverty in many areas. Education is free, but not mandatory, creating a plethora of problems in its most impoverished communities. Tourism is the number one source of income for the country as a whole with over 6 million people visiting the island yearly. The combination of poverty, low education, and tourism make the Dominican Republic a hot spot for prostitution and sex trafficking.
The Dominican Republic is the 4th leading country in the world for sex trafficking. Although prostitution is legal, sex trafficking and brothels are not. However, many laws are not enforced when it comes to people who are openly breaking them, so the problem continues. Many of the women I have the privilege of serving have expressed that they have been working the streets for more than half of their lives. Many of the girls we serve have been exploited by their own family members before the age of ten. From these stories the ministries of MERCY Jewelry and New Hope Girls were born. Join us in the fight to free every single person in bondage, starting with those suffering in the Dominican Republic.