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The Dominican Republic, not only a paradise

Sun, beach and sea, a fantastic nature, comfortable hotels, smart restaurants and bars, makes Las Terrenas on the Samana peninsula on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic the popular tourist destination. But away from the “bright side of life” the reality looks completely different: according to the latest estimates, approximately 40% of the population live under the poverty border. To support themselves, the whole extended family from grandfather to children must earn money. It´s possible to meet the kids from this socialeconomic group everywhere and at any time as shoeshine boy, snack and candy shop assistant or as a shopping cart racketeer at the local supermarket. In order to attend public school, the families must buy uniforms, backpacks, notebooks, pencils and pens. Which usually leaves a lot of children working to help pay for these items and many times they cannot earn enough to enter school.

The non-profit project “Los Ninos de Leonardo y Meredith” founded in September 2006, offers to 15 of these children a chance of an education and thus a promising future. The 15 students are divided into 2 groups to ensure that each child receives adequate personal attention, a necessity when so many of the students have learning disabilities and other social and behavioral problems.
„They are the poorest of the poor and I knew, I need to help“, says Anne Post, founder and driving force of the project. „Every child has his story.“

With a 6 hours school day, a small building with 2 “classrooms”

, a small office and a kitchen, was rented and renovated in 2006, thanks to generous donations. Spanish, mathematics, social sciences, biology, local history, geography, sexual education, handwriting, sports and art form part of the timetable of the school. „Everything that could prevent a child from going to school, is covered by the project“, stresses post. Two uniforms, backpacks, school supplies and text books are supplied to each student by the organization. To ensure that no child is learning on an empty stomach, the students receive a daily breakfast and a hot lunch cooked on the premises by the schools’ full time chef.

High importance is also attached to the learning of social interaction. The children are proud to be a sister school of an elementary school in Winchester, Massachusetts. They exchange personal and cultural information and co author a book each year which is sold to raise money for „Los Niños“. The students from the sister school also raise money independently and collect school supplies for their friends in the Dominican Republic.
With completion of the 5th grade, the children will continue at a private local sister school to pursue the upper classes and graduation, of course, still supported by the organization „Los Niños de Leonardo y Meredith“. Everything has its price: The expenses are about US$ 36.000 per year.
And there are already plans for the future: the acquisition of a piece of land and the construction of a school building with several classrooms to include grade kindergarten-5. With the hopes of 75 children can having the opportunity to attend school

Donations are always welcome; monetary donations, food and school supplies are most helpful and 100% of every donation is spent to support the costs of the school.
Anne Post has traveled to the island since 1999. Initially she had the idea to purchase school uniforms for poor children, which quickly transformed into a pilot project where she covered  the expenses for the education of 15 children at a private school. From this point, the project “Los Ninos de Leonardo y Meredith“ was incorporated in 2006 and received it 501(c)(3) status as a non profit organization. Post chose the project´s name in memory of 2 young students, Leonardo López and Meredith Quinn, who both died tragically while pursuing their college education.

For further information or contacts:: www.schoolforchildrendr.org

About the author

Winsome Murphy