Fundación de Libertad works with a network of partners primarily in two provinces of the Dominican Republic. Below is a brief description of projects in these two regions, along with links to more detailed descriptions and partner organizations.
Located between the Cordillera Septentrional (Northern Mountain Range) and the Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range) is the Valverde Province of the Dominican Republic, in the heart of the Cibao agricultural valley. The main community partners in this province include Batey Libertad (the namesake of Fundacion de Libertad) and the nearby Batey Dos and municipalities of Esperanza and Maizal.
Batey Libertad is the home and inspiration to many of the projects and partnerships within Fundacion de Libertad. These include the original pilot demo and training of trainers in the Grassroot Soccer method of HIV/AIDS prevention education — a program developed into Fútbol para la Vida by peer educators from Batey Libertad and other network communities, and now a national program called Deportes para la Vida run by the DREAM Project. Community collaborations have included construction of a community center and health clinic with University of Vermont (UVM) service-learning courses, home construction and sponsorship of high school and college students with Education Across Borders, community health clinics and preventative care through a network of health care providers, and development of a community gardening project with UVM and Seeds of Self Reliance. Batey Libertad has three women’s groups, a Haitian workers group, mens and womens soccer teams, two churches, and a community run literacy program.
A number of communities in the province work in collaboration with Batey Libertad on multiple fronts. For instance, Futbol para la Vida programs expanded to Batey 2 and public schools in Esperanza and Maizal. Libertad is also part of a network of rural communities in the region with health promotion programs organized by the Institute for Latin American Concern. And the men’s and women’s soccer teams of Batey Libertad have assisted dozens of teams in the region by facilitating equipment donations and organizing soccer matches and tournaments, a project supported by the Batey Libertad Coalition since 2003 that continues to build youth leadership capacity, facilitate cultural exchanges around sport development, and address racial tensions between Dominicans and Haitians.
Puerto Plata Province
Located on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata is one of the main tourist destinations on the island. However, remnants of the failing sugar cane industry still prevail across much of the landscape, including the many bateyes and Haitian barrios where migrant laborers struggle to find work in the overgrown cane fields, construction industry, and tourism-related activities.
In the shadows of a closed sugar mill the community of Saman, a Haitain/Dominican barrio of Villa Montellano built in the marginal lands of a river flood plain, has lead the growth in our HIV/AIDS prevention education program throughout the province, including Futbol para la Vida programs in the neighboring sugar cane bateyes of Caraballo, Pancho Mateo, Los Algodones, La Union, and Cangrejo. These bateyes have also been the site of extensive survey research among youth on knowledge and attitudes of HIV/AIDS.
Following the service-learning model pioneered at Batey Libertad, Saman has also worked with Dartmouth College to build a community center and park, and jumpstarted a community garden with a University of Vermont class. Equipo Saman has also become a fierce soccer competitor in the province, as well as a rival of Batey Libertad where many family and friends maintain connections.
Other community projects in the province have included running Futbol para la Vida camps with street kids in the city of Puerto Plata in conjunction with Project Esperanza, in the public school of Batey Caraballo, and at the annual summer camp of the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project in Cabarete. The DREAM Project is one of the main partners in the Libertad network and operates education projects throughout the region, including a community center at Batey Caraballo and a signature teacher training site in Cabarate.