Los Robles

Dominican Republic

Los Robles, whose name translates to “The Oaks” or “Strong People,” is one of the border communities near Haiti.  It is an all-but-forgotten, extremely poor community. Of the villages Children of the Nations (Niños de las Naciones, as we are known in the Dominican Republic) ministers to in the Dominican Republic, Los Robles is the furthest from Barahona.  In 1999, following a Vacation Bible School outreach put on by a Venture team, Los Robles became the second community in the Dominican Republic that Children of the Nations launched a Village Partnership Program with.  Los Robles 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.)

The population of Los Robles is 95 percent 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 estimated 300 families (1,500+ people) that reside in Los Robles—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, therefore are not recognized by the government and are denied access to social services including education and medial care.

Life in Los Robles is not easy.  Necessities that many of us take for granted—access to clean water, indoor plumbing, electricity, school, and medical care—are nonexistent.   The only access to Los Robles—primitive roads carved through ever-encroaching jungles—become muddy lakes when it rains, cutting off the entire batey from the outside world (including food and water) for days at a time.  In years past, residents of Los Robles made a living by working in the sugarcane fields.  However, Barahona’s sugar company recently sold the work to foreigners who substitute machines for human labor, leaving the majority of residents of Los Robles without work.  Some families have access to small pieces of land where they can sow a few crops such as plantains, bananas, and yucca.  But much of this land was owned by the sugar company, so the people no longer have use of it.  Los Robles residents often feel that all of their efforts, the little bit of money they have, and all of their hopes are blown away every year with the hurricanes.

The community of Los Robles tends to be very violent in nature, perhaps because of the frustrations that have been felt all of these years.  Compounding this situation is the fact that girls in Los Robles often become pregnant at an early age, lured into sex by something as little as a bite to eat or the promise of a “better life.”  This cycle of poverty—unplanned pregnancies, bored and uneducated mothers, and unemployed fathers who are not able to provide for their families—provides little hope for the people of Los Robles.

 

Los Robles Village Partnership Program Details
Our Village Partnership Program in Los Robles 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 Los Robles, 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)
  • Excessive violence
  • High rate of teen pregnancy
  • Uneducated, single-mother households (due to high rate of teen pregnancy)

Date Village Partnership Program launched:

1999

Number of children currently enrolled in program:

157

Programs/Services currently provided: