The journey into the Dominican Republic began two years ago. As we prayed over those early steps, the DR kept coming up: in our prayers, in conversations with others, and through introductions. It felt like a giant arrow was pointing to that island, and so we began traveling there to see what was already going on.
The entire country of the Dominican Republic can fit into the state of Indiana and is divided into four major cities: Puerto Plata, Santiago, Santo Domingo, and Punta Cana. Our earliest trips were back and forth between these cities, discerning where there was a need for programming with which Back2Back has previously seen success.
We immediately saw the need for improved educational opportunities for vulnerable children. Like many countries with high tourism, there is also a strong drug and human trafficking industry, which inevitably impacts the orphan culture. Add to that a major immigrant population of Haitians, trying to escape the poverty of their country. When you combine these factors, we felt compelled further down this road, responding to the need. Then the questions came: How do we find nationals already at work? In which city do we start? Which of our programs do we begin?
Our next step was to offer Trauma Competent Care training in-country. This depth of training has blessed organizations in the DR with better methods and resources to care for children from hurt backgrounds. It has allowed Back2Back to filter and meet the organizations that want to care well for children from hard places. To date, Back2Back has trained over 150 individuals representing 30 different organizations, serving a combined 5000 children. We have been blessed with a great resource, and through sharing it, have laid the groundwork for future Back2Back partnerships.
At this point, we feel Back2Back’s experience and history with the Hope Education Program and Strong Families will be the next steps. Both programs are strongly rooted in a foundational understanding of Trauma Competent Care.
Cheque and Hope Garcia, who have served more than 10 years on Back2Back’s Monterrey, Mexico staff, moved to the Dominican in January. They have spent the past seven months deepening those relationships, hosting additional trainings, and discerning how God will continue to use Back2Back in the DR. We are putting roots down in the Northern region outside of Puerto Plata and would ask you to please pray as God leads the team.
We fully anticipate inviting you to join us there one day on a trip, or jumping in on the earliest stages of child sponsorship, or coming alongside of a new ministry partner while we improve their physical structures or programming. For now, please pray. Beth often quotes Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” We are certainly at the small beginnings phase, but are trusting the Lord is pleased and will bless this work as we pursue Dominican children in His name.