Our Child Survival Program (CSP) not only helps young children survive the vulnerable first four years of their lives; it also provides mothers an opportunity to be trained in vocational skills so they can help increase their family income.
In the Dominican Republic, participating churches encourage mothers to go back to school to learn to read and write and to take vocational training courses that range from hairdressing to computers.
In most cases, these mothers are single moms. In others, their spouses are unemployed or have informal part-time jobs with very low pay.
This is the case of 33-year-old CSP mother Marcia from the community of Manganagua in Dominican Republic. She has been in the program since she was two months pregnant with her daughter Neidi, who is now 4 years old.
Marcia witnessed how Neidi’s development was faster than that of her two older children. In fact, Neidi began walking when she was just 8 months old; her siblings had not walked until after they were a year old.
In the last four years, through the CSP program, Marcia has received medical help for her daughter when needed, along with other regular benefits of the program.
Nevertheless, the cost of raising three children has made it necessary for Marcia to leave her children in care of her sister next door so Marcia can work. Marcia cleans a house in another community, for which she is paid RD$3,000.00 (US$81.00) a month.
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But with house rent of RD$3,500.00 (US$92.00) plus the cost of food and other needs, it’s challenging for Marcia and her husband to make ends meet. Marcia’s husband, Jose, is an agricultural worker at a farm with a salary of RD$6,000.00 (US$162.00).
Marcia longs for a chance to help her family improve their living conditions.
She first saw an opportunity for change when she began to participate in the sewing course at Iglesia Comunitaria Monte de Sion Church. There she learned how to repair clothes. At the end of the training, Marcia received a surprise gift.
“After I took the sewing course, the church chose some mothers to give sewing machines to. I was one of the chosen mothers. I have my own sewing machine now.”
Even though she doesn’t have a shop yet, Marcia has begun to repair some torn items of clothing that her neighbors have brought to her.
“I have repaired clothes for my neighbors and, in return, they have given me some money, which I have used to buy the chicken to feed to my children.”
Marcia is happy to be able to do things for herself and her family that she used to have to pay someone else to do.
“I have learned to repair my trousers and to make curtains and cushions. I have repaired skirts and blouses of my daughter. And I have repaired and made Bermuda shorts for my boys.”
Monte de Sion Community Center is now preparing to provide further training to Marcia and other mothers who have learned the basics of sewing.
“I am waiting for the vocational course on clothes design and cutting so I can learn to make clothes.”
Marcia is starting to see a new opportunity to generate income without having to be away from her children the whole day.
“If I have a sewing shop at home, I won’t have the need of going outside for work. As a dressmaker, I could work right at home.”
Monte de Sion Community Church is serving a total of 100 mothers in its Child Survival Program; nearly half of them have already participated in vocational training courses. Sewing, making decorative candles, cooking, upholstery, baking and computer basics are among the skills taught to the mothers at the center.
Every CSP center in the Dominican Republic provides vocational training opportunities to the mothers in the program so they can generate income to help their families.
In a community like Padre Las Casas in the province of Azua, in the south of the country, the mothers participating at the CSP center have begun training in hairdressing and sewing, among other skills.
If the mothers don’t have their own equipment when they complete their training course, the local church arranges a schedule for them to meet their customers at the vocational training center. The mothers are allowed to use the center’s equipment to do the work and begin generating an income.
The goal is for them to earn enough money to buy their own equipment and set up their own shops.
This sincere love and concern expressed by our church partners toward people in need help convey the gospel of Christ in a powerful manner.
Marcia received Jesus as her Savior and she has seen how the Lord has changed her own life and her home.
“I have changed a lot. I am living in a better home condition. My lifestyle and way of being have changed a lot. I have learned how to treat my children.”
Children in the CSP program receive the biggest benefit of all; young Neidi is ready to continue her development through Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program .
Irene, director of the CSP at the Luz de Esperanza Student Center in Manganagua, shares with us,
“It’s always very rewarding to me to see the children who finish the Child Survival Program. They are used to being in all the activities. They have learned to love the child development center. It’s completely different from those children who come directly from the community without coming through the Child Survival Program.”
Marcia is grateful for the change that has taken place in her life since joining the Child Survival Program:
“As I’ve been in church, things in my life have been being corrected slowly. I have changed a lot. I give thanks to God for everything. I have changed for better. I live more in peace. God has given me a lot and I am thankful to Him.”