The Gift of Education

When Back2Back Ministries began its work in the Dominican Republic, Co-Site Directors knew it would have a different feel from the sites before it. “We didn’t need to reinvent any wheels,” shared Hope Garcia. “There were already many organizations doing important work in-country; our vision was to come alongside them, growing their impact.” What was born from this vision was a staff team partnering with local organizations already serving, training them in trauma competent caregiving, and offering access to resources and proven methodology.  

Staff invested deeply with one organization, and a relationship flourished through after-school programming, connection groups, and trauma training. The relationship strengthened over the years until, unexpectedly at the end of 2023, ownership changed. The staff team was let go and the new focus shifted away from education.  

“It was a shock,” shared Hope. “And we spent a lot of time readjusting and praying. We still wanted to connect with the families, we just didn’t know what would serve them best.” In January, when children returned to school, staff met with the families, measuring their needs and how they could still invest. The families shared how impactful the educational care had been for their children and how grateful they were for the safety provided to them as they learned.

“We really need this still, for our kids,” many of the parents shared. “They’re still struggling in school and are now lacking a safe space.” Once they realized the families and the staff were decidedly on the same page in continuing educational investment, they knew the next step would be finding a space and the resources to continue. They prayed, asking God to lead them, to open a door when everything felt like it was shutting. And, as He always does, God answered in an unexpected way.

Just a month ago, Cheque Garcia, Back2Back D.R. Co-Director, was visiting families, asking about possible rentals available. It was then Cheque learned about a group similar to a homeowners association and its president. “While it doesn’t run exactly how they do here, it is a group of people from one community who participate in different activities to better their surroundings,” explained Hope. “It’s led by a gentleman who lives in the neighborhood, and Cheque met him that day.” 

The man shared of a community center not in use, inviting them to present their vision for how it could be inhabited. Together, the D.R. team presented their vision, including the ways each child and family would receive investment, then allowed the community to deliberate and vote. 

The committee was enthusiastic for what this would mean for their community, but knew they didn’t have everything that would be needed. “We have chairs, but no tables. And we don’t have water or electricity at the moment, but we want this space to be one of flourishing,” he shared.

Back2Back staff around the world believe in coming alongside vulnerable populations to assist them in moving toward sustainability. This often means costs are shared for a time; Hope was expecting to have this conversation and was pleasantly surprised when the parents started brainstorming where to get more tables from, how to get everything turned on again, and be ready for students. The community group was elated and ready to invest wherever they could, and the D.R. team was encouraged about their ownership over the space and programming.

Classes started a few weeks later, one group meeting in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each day they’re together, they focus on educational growth, especially reading, Math, and devotionals. Children also take part in connection groups, which allow them to better understand and verbalize their emotions.

“It might be uncomfortable for a bit, but we are all in on the enthusiasm and drive of the community,” shared Hope. “This is the power of those we serve having skin in the game – communities are strengthened, families remain together, and cycles are broken.”

Please join Back2Back in prayer over the D.R. site and staff. Pray for engagement and solutions, no matter what hiccups may arise, and that each child would understand the gift of education and the power it will allow them to wield.