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Considering that we have been involved in Paraiso since 2006, people periodically ask us why we have not yet established anything more permanent in the community.  The reason that this process has taken as long as it has is because we are so deeply committed to working in partnership with the community.  One of our key beliefs is that any intervention in the community should have the community’s active assent and participation.  Otherwise, we run the risk of spending great time and effort with little to show for it.

An example of what can go wrong: at a different site (in northern Nicaragua), a large non-governmental organzation (NGO) determined that access to safe drinking water was a key need for the community.  The NGO held a community meeting and got their approval, and proceeded to spend a great deal of time and money digging wells in the community to provide drinking water.  The outcome a few years later: some wells are still working and providing water to the community as intended.  Some wells are broken and non-functional and the community is unable to repair them.  Some wells are on private property and the general community has been locked out–the well dug by the NGO is being used by certain people and denied to others.

As a non-profit organization, we are given great trust and responsibility–both by the community where we work and our donors and supporters.  We are entrusted to make the most out of the resources available and to make a lasting difference in the community.  If we try to impose our ideas without adequately involving the community, we run great risk of replicating the Nicaragua NGO’s errors: spending valaube resources for little benefit.

Our approach is time-consuming and requires great trust and commitment between us and the community.  Howver, this level of involvement and engagement is what we feel will make the greatest lasting difference in Paraiso.  As we grow, we would endeavor to keep this same level of commitment to other communities in the Dominican Republic.


Dominican Aid Society of Virginia

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