Our Affiliated Project: The National School for the Blind in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

 

 Quick facts about the National School for the Blind:

  • Ages served: All ages. Students attend classes here until they are ready to integrate into public schools (ideally by the third grade), although children may continue attending the School for as long as deemed appropriate by ongoing evaluations. Some students never fully integrate into public school.
  • Academic year: Typically begins in early August and ends the first week of June. Students enjoy summer vacation for the remainder of June and all of July.
  • Job training: In addition to core academic subjects, children learn vocational skills — like packaging and selling spices and creating artisan crafts and other household goods — to equip them to live independently.
  • Teacher Training: The School provides specialized training for public school teachers to ensure that students continue to progress after integration.
  • Parent outreach: Parents are encouraged to attend parenting classes and Braille workshops.
  • Physical education: Outdoor recreation is encouraged, as it is instrumental in teaching the children to move gracefully and confidently.
  • Nutrition: Children receive a nutritious breakfast, snack and lunch each day.
  • Medical care: Children’s health is closely monitored, and free medical care is provided as the need arises. The school has a small clinic for basic care, and collaborates with local hospitals to provide free or reduced-cost services for more complex health issues.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with neighboring Haiti, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest nation in the Caribbean. Popular among tourists today, it was also the first American land explored by Western Europeans. In fact, the capital city of Santo Domingo was the region’s first permanent European settlement. Founded in 1496, it remains the oldest continually inhabited city in the Americas.

Despite its wealth of history and natural resources — including exports of sugar cane, coffee and bananas — the Dominican Republic bears the scars of prolonged political turbulence. For three centuries, this strategically located island repeatedly changed hands between various European powers.

Even since gaining its independence from Spain (and later Haiti) in the nineteenth century, the Dominican Republic has continued to endure political turmoil, which manifests in the forms of rampant poverty, malnutrition and a high illiteracy rate. Tragically, those with disabilities are often marginalized and left to endure the brunt of these problems.

For this reason, the National School for the Blind serves as a beacon of hope for visually impaired children and their families. Located in downtown Santo Domingo, the school is one of the only places where children facing the dual challenges of poverty and impaired vision receive the specialized care and assistance that will equip them to overcome the difficult circumstances they face.

 

Quick Facts about the Dominican Republic:

  • Population: 10,882,996 (2018 est.)
  • Languages Spoken: Spanish (official)
  • Unemployment Rate: 5% (2018 est.)
  • Poverty Rate: 5% (2017 est.)

READ MORE STORIES FROM OUR PROJECTS IN The Dominican Republic:

Coming soon!