To make an online gift to this project click here. Select Latin America and the Caribbean from the designation list and type Dominican Republic Caminante into the Project/Partner line.
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The island of Hispaniola is the home of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Both countries have shared the struggles of poverty, military dictatorships, and hurricanes. They also share beautiful beaches and pleasant warm weather.
This island was one of the first conquered by the Europeans in the early 16th century. The indigenous population was practically wiped out and was replaced by African slaves. Now, opportunities are scarce and the economy is supported by money sent back to the island by those living in Puerto Rico or the United States.
The capitol city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, has suffered a dramatic increase in population over the last decades and this rise has continued during the last ten years. Families and children who previously farmed sugar cane moved to the city after the demand for sugar cane dropped in Latin America. Tourism began to become an important factor in the economy in the mid 1980s. Desperation has driven many children to prostitution in this popular destination for European tourism.
Apart from the typical prostitution, the child sex industry in the Dominican Republic includes both boys and girls, working away from indoor places, mainly in tourist areas. This new type of prostitution has resulted from the increase in tourism, particularly as tourists pay higher prices than local men. While the majority of the children work on their own, some may have someone who finds the ‘customer' for them. It is not uncommon for bar staff or taxi drivers to serve as intermediaries between their ‘customers' and child prostitutes.
Children involved in the sex industry are socially stigmatized and legally harassed. In the past the police regularly rounded up and arrested those involved in prostitution. Corruption within the military and police force was also recognized as widespread. These street children were often mistreated by authorities who considered them a nuisance.
Caminante, meaning "One Who Walks the Path," is a grass roots organization made up of people who have first hand knowledge of the struggles that face the kids and teens in their community. Caminante is located in Boca Chica, a beach-resort town, located close to the airport and the capital city of Santo Domingo. The project is providing a safe space where hundreds of youth and their families will receive counseling and participate in recreational and formation programs. Additionally, in coordination with local government and non-governmental agencies, victims of sexual abuse and exploitation are receiving special attention and services. Many of the staff of Caminante are former participants in the program who lived on the streets or had little support from a family.
The purpose of Caminante is to serve children who are at risk of being drawn into prostitution as a result of the culture associated with the tourist economy in the Dominican Republic. Caminante seeks to help develop the self-esteem of these children by teaching Christian values, through education and recreational activities. Also, Caminante works closely with the families, churches, and the community to raise awareness regarding the complexity of this problem.
Caminante offers the following services:
- Health and wholeness services
- Follow up with HIV/AIDS victims
- Medical services
- Legal Services
- Legal assistance in accordance to Law 136-03 (NNA protection)
The law is explicit in stating that the commercial sexual exploitation of children is a violation of human and child rights. It establishes penalties for those who violate such rights by sexually exploiting children and makes recommendations for ensuring that child victims and their families are protected and supported.
- NNA follow up to street situations
Vocational and Technical Education
- Study rooms
- Reinstate in school
- Workshops and courses
- Alliances with technical training centers
- Individual therapy
- Family and group therapy
- Emotional support
Gifts to Caminante can be used to:
- $10.00 help provide needed school supplies
- $25.00 help provide sports equipment
- $50.00 help provide medical and psychological services at Caminante