2nd Mile Missions exists because poverty exists. Abject poverty doesn’t end when you give the poor food, clothing and shelter. Generations have remained in bondage to poverty due to a lack of education and opportunity.
The Dominican Republic is an island nation known for it’s rich culture and beautiful landscapes. With a population of approximately 10.6 million, it is the second largest of the Caribbean nations. It occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti.
Boasting twenty-five designer golf courses and hundreds of luxurious resorts, tourism is the largest industry supporting the economy. However, the reality of daily life for natives is far from luxurious. Extreme poverty is no stranger to the Dominican Republic, and can be found within walking distance of most resort areas in Punta Cana.
Most children attend public schools, which provide substandard education. In order to receive a quality education, families would have to pay as much as $400 per child every month to attend private school.
While resort jobs are coveted opportunities available only to the well educated, the average job may pay around $10 per day. The lack of opportunities for gainful employment, coupled with an inflated cost of living, even by American standards, creates a cyclical pattern that perpetuates poverty.
Bavaro, a city within Punta Cana, is home to approximately 50,000 native residents. It is also the hub for 2nd Mile Missions. Bavaro is a city of contrast – elegant malls and resorts with full-service spas sit adjacent to slum areas comprised of shanty houses.
The poorest neighborhoods in Bavaro are home to Haitians who have migrated in search of work and a better life. The vast majority of Haitian children in the Dominican Republic lack a birth certificate or sufficient paperwork to attend school. Acquiring such paperwork can cost as much as $500, making it nearly impossible to gain access to an education that would empower children beyond the confines of poverty.
Economic disparity is a leading contributor to ongoing destitution in Bavaro and beyond.
- Average weekly food cost to feed a family of four, three meals per day: $150
- Most poor families survive on one meal a day
- Average fuel cost: $4 per gallon
- Families cannot afford to commute to seek better paying employment
- Average monthly rent for a small, one bedroom apartment: $400
- As many as four families will share an apartment