Our Affiliated Project: The National School for the Blind in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
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 19th 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.