Dominican Republic COVID-19 Update

By Mariluz Heredia, Director of VisionTrust Dominicana


Dear Church, 

The Dominican Republic has been impacted by the pandemic in the last three months and changes have come in unexpected and difficult ways. In our country the situation is not different from other Latin American countries: schools are closed, we were in quarantine until last week and most of the businesses were not open. The positive cases for COVID-19 are increasing every day and the last 2 days it has doubled (around 1,000 daily). The health system is collapsing, and we have to wear masks everywhere we go.

Education
The teachers and directors of the VisionTrust Learning Centers are supporting the local education through online classes and some are even visiting the children to help them with school assignments. The closure of the school year has been irregular, and the children have come to the Learning Center to pick up their final grades and some of the centers have started registrations for the next term. The possible date to reopen the schools is August 24th but the ministry of Education is not very positive about it. And even if it happens, the protocol of reopening will have many restrictions. We are trying to figure out how the work can be more effective with these new rules. Probably our participation as a ministry in the centers might change a little but we have nothing defined so far. Let us continue to pray and wait to see how we can be an active part of the process by supporting the children and their families as we always do.

Economy
Our economy in the DR has been affected greatly with a higher rate of unemployment and an increase in the basic products for the families to make a living. I would say that around 60% of the parents are informal workers who make a living out of little daily incomes and many of them are not allowed to move around so easily. Also, the families with single moms who are staying home is another issue. To support the economy of the families, we have helped with the food bags/ boxes project and more than 400 rations have been distributed to the most needed families of every center.  We have seen the faces of happiness and relief of the children and the parents when we enter the homes with those food packages.

Some directors have used part of the VisionTrust funds received to help the families too. At DR015, (which is the specific VT Learning Center that FBC partners with), they have prepared breakfast and have provided face masks for the children.

Mental Health
Emotionally everyone has suffered at some level of anxiety and discouragement because being locked down and having children to feed and bills to pay is quite a challenge. We have been working hard to follow up on staff and the children with their families. We are sharing devotionals, prayers, home visits and counseling when needed. One of our biggest concerns has been the well-being of our children in the homes where the environment is toxic and unhealthy. We pray that the Lord keep the children safe from any kind of abuse.

VisionTrust Dominica (VTD) Staff
As for the VTD office staff, we are still working from home because at the beginning of the pandemic we had to end our contract on our rental space and right now we don’t have an office to operate. The idea is to wait a couple of months to see how everything goes back to “normal” and rent a new place without a Mission House. Please help me pray as I am looking for the right place that we can afford. In the meantime, we meet virtually, and we follow up with phone calls and I meet individually with the staff when required. We are using a form to fill out and report work hours and tasks performed during the week.
 
Finally, I want to request your prayers regarding our recent Presidential elections; we are thankful that everything went well. Our new president is Luis Abinader. Our hope is that his heart can be sensitive to the Christian values that we have always followed and that the Lord will give him the strength and wisdom he needs to lead this country.  

I appreciate your prayers, your emails, your words of support and mostly the love you have shown us during these hard times. For the DR, the struggles have been a constant for the past year and we continue to face difficulties, but in the midst of all of it,  we have tasted God’s goodness.  

One thing I am praying for myself is that the Lord helps me to be flexible, corrigible, and humble like Jesus.

Mariluz

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