Altagracia

Dominican Republic

Altagracia (meaning “high favor”) is located in the southern part of the Dominican Republic, near the border with Haiti, and is one of the poorest communities in the entire region.  It is the fourth of the five communities Children of the Nations (Niños de las Naciones, as we are known in the Dominican Republic) began ministering to in the Dominican Republic.  Altagracia is a batey (pronounced BAH-tay), one of more than 400 shantytown work camps originally erected in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s to house migrant sugarcane cutters from Haiti.  (To find out more, visit The Origin of the Dominican Batey.)

Altagracia’s estimated 200+ families (1,000+ residents) are predominantly Haitian-Dominican.  (A “Haitian-Dominican” is defined as a person of Haitian descent legally living in the Dominican Republic but not recognized as a citizen.)  The people of Altagracia—second- and third-generation families born in the Dominican Republic to migrant-worker Haitians who originally came to the Dominican Republic as early as the 1960s—lack Dominican citizenship, and therefore are not recognized by the government and are denied access to social services including education and medial care.  Since they do not have birth certificates there is no way they can obtain legal status.  They cannot vote or own property.

Without such modern-day necessities as access to clean water or electricity, living in Altagracia is difficult.  Plus it is overcrowded—there are over 200 families living in this batey’s 150 shantytown dwellings.  It is not uncommon for up to three families to reside in just one house, where everyone usually sleeps in the same room.  Consequently, the children and adolescents’ sexual desires tend to awaken at a very early age.  Because sexual education is nonexistent, many girls get pregnant at a young age, often as early as 11, and are unable to take care of their children.  Parents struggle daily to provide for their families.  For decades, families in Altagracia have made a living in the sugarcane fields, until recently when foreigners who purchased the local sugar company replaced the manual labor with machines, robbing them of their livelihood.

 

 

Altagracia Village Partnership Program Details

Our Village Partnership Program in Altagracia is a community-based ministry that provides a coming-alongside sort of partnership with the community leaders to provide training, education, spiritual encouragement, and resources empowering them to raise their children and reach their goal of self-sustainability. Working through the local village leadership of Altagracia, Children of the Nations continually assesses the unique needs of this community, updating programs and strategizing to best meet these needs.

Initial Assessed Needs:

  • No access to education or medical care (due to non-citizenship)
  • Children sexually active at an early age
  • High rate of teen pregnancy

Date Village Partnership Program launched:

2006

Number of children currently enrolled in program:

68

Programs/Services currently provided: