The Village Mountain Mission Project takes place on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is an independent country that occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean. Formerly a colony of Spain, “The DR” is approximately the size of West Virginia, and shares the rest of the island with its neighbor Haiti.
The villages we serve are in the province of Puerto Plata, on the north slope of the Cordillera Septentrional mountain range. Historically, the area was settled by Native American tribes until the arrival of Columbus in 1492. The sudden appearance of Europeans was a dramatic change, with new diseases such as smallpox devastating the local population, killing 90% of the natives within a few years. Over the next few centuries, the Spanish and French built colonies and imported slaves from Africa, creating a plantation economy on the island centered around sugarcane.
The Dominicans struggled with independence and political strife for most of the 19th century, with the United States stepping in to stabilize and protect the young republic in 1916. Since then, our two countries have been intertwined, with both the government and the people of the DR appreciating and encouraging American participation.
Today, the Dominican Republic is a representative democracy, and home to more than eight million people. Unfortunately, its economy is weak, with unemployment as high as 85% in the rural villages. For a large number of families, the day-to-day task is finding food and water. However, in spite of the little they may have, they are a warm, friendly, humble people and very appreciative of the work we are doing to help them. We work closely with the villagers, and they help in the decisions on which homes that we build.
While building houses to help poor villagers is our main goal, we also want you to experience as much of the culture and sites that the country has to offer. Your schedule will have a basic framework of two work days followed by an off day. There are several scheduled activities possible:
• A visit to the Christopher Columbus Museum and church built with materials from Christopher Columbus’s church of 1494 that is still used regularly.
• An afternoon at the beach, followed by some free time in Luperon where you can purchase juice, ice cream, and various souvenirs.
• Swimming in one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Caribbean. You can swim and climb 7 levels of these falls from the Río Damajagua and experience nature’s own water slides for an unforgettable trip.
• Put on a carnival for the local children, including events and prizes to interest all ages. Email us for some carnival ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org