Strive for a better future.
In January of 2007, my husband and I visited Dominican Republic and explored the country for 3 weeks. As we drove very close to the border of Haiti, in a town called Jimani, we came across a family living in a small shack of cinder blocks and palm reeds. A woman, and her 5 children came to greet us. The children were dressed in tattered and filthy rags, picking the seeds from limes to sell to local farmers. They would make just enough money to provide each person with one small meal per day if the harvest would allow. The children were malnourished and dehydrated. They were unable to attend school due to the lack of transportation and funding for tuition and supplies. The daily life for this family was simply surviving until the next day, one day at a time. Their mother was not able to provide more for them than this. My heart ached for her. As we prepared to leave this family, not knowing what the next day would bring them, we gave them the food and water we had. We prayed they would be able to find sustainability in the future.
In the years following this first trip, we made many trips to Dominican Republic, and each year I became more determined to help families like this one, live a happier, healthier, and more sustainable life. We would bring small amounts of clothing and shoes with us in our bags to hand out along the way on our travels. Each year, I knew we could be doing more than the previous years.
As time went on and our own family began to grow, I could not stop thinking about the family in Jimani. I knew one day, we would be able to help families like this one strive for a better future.
2015 - NEVER TURN BACK
It was in the spring of 2015 that our family decided to begin shipping our outgrown clothing, shoes, and toys to family members waiting for the boxes to arrive in Dominican Republic. They traveled into the rural villages to distribute the provisions, and when I received the pictures, I fell in love. We were finally able to help.
As our hearts soared, we spoke to friends, family and community members about the extreme need of the families in Dominican Republic, and donations began to arrive on our doorstep.
In November of 2015, we more than doubled the number of boxes we shipped, and planned a trip to be in Dominican Republic upon their arrival in December. Our family worked to make packages and gift bags for each child, woman and man we had donations for. Each bag was filled with clothing, shoes, toys, pencils and notebooks. We traveled into rural villages hidden in sugar cane fields and neighboring areas surrounding the country’s capital, Santo Domingo.
It was on this trip that I realized the severity of the poverty in the country. Families who are living in small villages, hidden under the lush palm trees; severely malnourished children walking bare foot amidst burning garbage and broken glass, unclothed. Babies with large empty bellies, children unable to attend school, and mothers and fathers unable to find work. I was determined to make a difference from this day forward and never turn my back.
2016 - Non-profit Established
On our return to New York in January of 2016, donations from our local community, and the families within, began pouring in the door. I began to work to create a foundation to help the people of Dominican Republic as much as we possibly could.
On October 3, 2016, Debajo De Las Palmas- Under The Palms In Dominican Republic Inc. was certified to operate as a non-profit organization.
In December of 2016, we packed and shipped 28 boxes, 6 square feet apiece, to Dominican Republic, where they awaited our arrival. Our family distributed the provisions into the rural villages surrounding the capital, orphanages, and the largest children’s hospital in the country. In December of 2016 & January of 2017, we were able to provide for over 600 people, including 513 children. Our clothing bundles provide enough clothing for one week.
Our work continued to grow in 2017 and we returned to Dominican Republic with 28 more boxes, infant cradles and bathing tubs, breast feeding supplies, educational materials and much, much more more in December.
We hope to be able to travel more often beginning in 2018.
Founder & President