Nineteen-Year-Old Mother Gets a New Home and a New Start

05/28/15

Nineteen-year-old Rosibel didn’t get to start her family on her terms. There are few examples of happy, functioning families in the Dominican slum she lives in. What you might think is a good life plan—graduating, getting married, finding a home, and then having children—is almost unheard of in Altagracia, a community of second- and third-generation Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic with no citizenship, rights, or resources. 


Children relax at COTN's school and feeding center in Altagracia. In the background, you can see typical homes made of wood and tin.
 

But Rosibel at least hoped to have a home for her family. A roof over her children’s heads was all she wanted.
 
When Rosibel’s father died, she was only a teenager, and already had a child of her own. Her story is not unusual. In the Dominican Republic, one in ten girls has her first child before age 20. This number is even higher in Rosibel's impoverished community. 

The house Rosibel's father left her could hardly be called a home. And Rosibel’s family was growing. She and her husband, who earns next to nothing as a laborer in the sugarcane fields, soon had two more children. As their family expanded, the old wooden house rotted.
 
The cracks between the rotting boards that formed the walls grew until you could see right into the house. “I didn’t have any privacy, I could see from inside to outside,” Rosibel says. The roof wasn’t any better. Every time it rained, water poured through the rotting ceiling and onto the dirt floor, turning it into thick, slimy mud. It was on this mud that her children slept every night. 


                          Rosibel's home was made of rotting wood and the roof leaked when it rained.
 
Desperate to keep her family safe and dry, Rosibel tried to repair the house with anything she could get her hands on. She scoured the fields for cow manure and used that to seal up the sides of her home. That never lasted long, and made the entire house stink. She looked for old plastic and even cloth to lay across the roof to keep her children dry. But whenever she managed to seal up one leak, another rotten piece of wood gave out and the leaks continued. 
 
Despite their deteriorating home, the children were actually doing well. They attend the Children of the Nations (COTN) school in their community and receive a nutritious meal at lunch every day. In the summer, they get to go to camp, and there’s a church and Bible studies in their village. 
 
But it was clear the family needed extra help. COTN’s in-country staff took note of the condition of their house, and began praying for a way to help them. This spring, it came. A Venture team from Southminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Washington, chose to make Rosibel’s home their project. The team arrived and partnered with the community to help repair and rebuild the homes of COTN children that were in the worst condition. 


          The team from Southminster church worked alongside community members to build Rosibel a new home. 
 
When Rosibel saw her new home, made of solid, sturdy wood, she was overjoyed. “I never could have fixed my house by myself,” Rosibel says. "I thank God, the Venture team, and COTN very much for this help I received.” 
 
Today, Rosibel has a clean, sturdy home. It couldn’t have come at a better time—Rosibel and her husband are expecting their fourth child. 




As Rosibel's children grow up in this new home, not only will they have the safety and protection of living under a solid roof, they will have the education and foundation to build their lives, and families, in a way that doesn't perpetuate the cycle of poverty. In Latin America, just beginning high school reduces a girl's risk of teenage pregnancy by one third. This is Rosibel's dream for her little girl. Through child sponsorship, people like you are making this possible. 

Help a family like Rosibel's survive and break the cycle of poverty by sponsoring a child in need. Or, find out more about how you can partner with a community to meet needs on a Venture trip