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Dominican Republic partners celebrating SDOP anniversary

By Teresa Bidart

After more than thirty five years of partnership with poor grassroots communities around the world, Presbyterian Self-Development of People started a pilot project in the Dominican Republic in 2007. This pilot project represented a change in the ministry’s strategy for international funding. The new strategy was to focus our funding in one specific country and establish partnership with communities in other countries through intermediary partners. These partners include:

  • Regional Ecumenical Center for Consulting and Service (CREAS) in Argentina
  • Ecumenical Fund to Support Small Projects (CESE) in Brazil
  • Development Promotion Group (DPG) in India, Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) in Egypt
  • Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF) in Africa countries).

This focused funding was scheduled to last for three years in the Dominican Republic, while the Intermediary partnerships would continue.

SDOP’s work in the Dominican Republic focused on establishing partnerships with communities of economically poor and disadvantaged people. We established relationships with three non-government organizations:  Solidarity Center for Development of Women (CE-MUJER), Movement of Haitian-Dominican Women (MUDHA), and Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) Dominicana. These relationships played a crucial role in the establishment of partnerships with economically poor grassroots communities in the Dominican Republic.

SDOP established partnerships with 20 grassroots groups, seven of those in bateys in the Dominican Republic. Batey communities are shantytowns originally founded by the Dominican government in the late 1800s so that laborers, primarily Haitians brought from Haiti, would be available to work on sugar cane plantations. In the batey communities, SDOP provided funds to build water systems that are currently benefiting more than 10,000 people. SDOP funds drastically changed living conditions of thousands of women, farmers, fisherman, crafters, and youth, etc. in these extremely poor communities.

As SDOP celebrates its 45th Anniversary, our partners in the Dominican Republic express thanks and gratitude:

Graciela de la Cruz


“The Presbyterian Committee on the SDOP contributions has been very important in decreasing poverty by working in partnership with the Center of Solidarity for Women’s Development (CE-MUJER). Thousands of families have improved their living conditions because of SDOP funding. Twenty-five community organizations have benefited from these funds after 2010, when CE-MUJER started to be an SDOP intermediary partner; these groups have developed initiatives to generate income to improve their lives and the living conditions of their families. Congratulations to SDOP on your 45th Anniversary working to decrease poverty! We wish you success in the future!”


SDOP visiting Palmarejo batey

SDOP has assisted our community partners not only financially. We have felt respected and honored with this great solidarity. We have been morally supported in hard times and SDOP has always been present for us. The two major accomplishments were the construction of the water systems benefiting two batey communities (batey communities are shantytowns originally founded by the Dominican government in the late 1800s so that laborers, primarily Haitians brought from Haiti would be available to work on sugar cane plantations) that did not have access to clean water for more than 20 years. They were Batey Palmarejo located in North Santo Domingo and Batey Altagracia located in Sabana Grande de Boya. The SDOP support positively impacted communities in Batey Palmarejo, and Batey Altagracia in Sabana Grande. These people are greatly thankful for your support. They considered privileged by having this potable water systems installed in their communities. People of these two bateys send their blessings to all SDOP team.

MUDHA staff sends a big hug and we wish you luck in your daily actions in favor of the disadvantage people in our societies. God Bless you! Congratulations in your 45th Anniversary!!!”

BRA Dominicana

“SDOP has helped its community partners by transforming the precarious situation of families who did not have drinking water in their communities and were forced to travel long distances to get it. In this regard the support of SDOP for Dominican BRA in building small systems water in communities

María Castro BRA Promoter President of the community health committee, Comunidad La Cerca Monte Plata Province

brought major changes to the lives of community residents.  Support from SDOP also strengthened the community-based organizations. Our best achievements has been bringing clean water to communities in need and strengthening their ability to self-manage and empower themselves and reducing the vulnerability of families due to lack of water. BRA involvement with the SDOP has been fruitful, marked by strong institutional relations and achievements to help transform the lives of hundreds of vulnerable families in the Dominican Republic. On behalf of BRA, I want to personally thank SDOP for their generosity and dedication to the impoverished communities of the Dominican Republic.”

The well created by BRA Dominicana and the Presbyterian Church has been a blessing from God. Before its creation, we had to drink tap water, river water, and water full of pollution. Our lives have changed completely. The well brings good, clean water that taste great.  Before children were always suffering from parasites, constant diarrhea, worms, and skin diseases. Children now are healthier because and get sick less. This water has served our community as well as other nearby communities who use the well for their drinking water.

The new water system has also helped us to organize ourselves better as a community. We have maintained the organization that we created at the start of this project. We have our water committee by which we maintain the well and we collect a small donation from families every month to help maintain the well and repair it quickly if something is damaged.

Our community of La Cerca is more than grateful for the construction of the water system. We can only  tell BRA and the church that gave the funds for its construction that the Lord will shower you with blessings forever and will always provide you the means to continue helping communities in need!

Eduardo Guzmán Community Cinco Casas President of the Neighbors Association of Batey Cinco Casas

BRA Dominicana has helped us a lot with the clinic and all its projects, but one of the most important projects has been providing us clean water because water is life. We who live here in Cinco Casas, have survived years working under the roasting hot sun with the little bit of water that flowed from other communities and the local river. We never had our own system. Now, thanks first to God, BRA and the Church of the Presbyterians have given is a water system. We now have a well which we care for and maintain. We have damaged some parts but always have money to make repairs. We formed a water committee and together we ensure the smooth operation of the well. We remain united and organized as a community.
We have no sufficient words to thank BRA and the Presbyterian Church for this important work that has helped us to have healthier families. We thank you on behalf of the entire community!

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