The goal of FRB’s Dominican Republic-Bateyes program is to reduce malnutrition and increase family incomes and the overall quality of life of Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. These marginalized communities live in bateyes [ba TAY yace] — former sugar plantation work camps — and, recently ruled as “in transit” (though families may have lived in the country for four generations), are not generally eligible for government services.
Their situation is improving through the program: participants are learning new skills in crop management, soil preparation, community seed banks, nutrition, vegetable and small animal production, and efficient marketing of excess produce. Pass-on-the-gift projects with small animals afford participants a source of protein and income. Organizing committees help communities access basics such as water and education for their children.
Recently, a community did its research and made successful application to a non-government organization (NGO) for funding to improve their access to water. Here, two program participants share their stories:
Dominga, “I am the president of the group of producers in the food security program in our community. Even though there is a lot of poverty in our community, we are making progress with all the technical support and trainings we are receiving, on growing vegetables, how to use them for better nutrition, and how to care for the chickens or pigs we receive so we can keep some and pass some along to our neighbors. I received a pig last year, and I think she is the biggest pig in our community. I make sure to take proper care of her, giving her plenty of food and water, so that she can produce many piglets or, in case of an emergency, I can sell her for income. This year, we have started caring for an improved breed of chickens in our community, and are now eating eggs for breakfast and dinner. We are also planting vegetable gardens and fruit trees. I am now producing passion fruit, lemons, cacao and other fruits. Today, none of the producers go to bed without having dinner. We are so grateful. Thank you.”
Wilver is from Haiti, and came to the Dominican Republic in search of work and a better way of life for his family. As a participant of a community savings and loan group, he took out a small loan which he used to start a small business in buying and selling grains, mainly beans and corn for now. His small business is doing so well that he has already paid back what he borrowed. He is now in the process of requesting a larger loan to expand his business. He is also looking forward to receiving chickens, having participated in the trainings provided on small business management and the proper care and management of poultry. Says Wilver, “The trainings and advice we’ve received have been very beneficial in helping us to improve our way of life in our community.”
Foods Resource Bank’s Dominican Republic-Bateyes program is led by Church of the Brethren and local partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID). The Bateyes program encompasses 32 communities, 770 households, and 3850 individuals.