The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. This Spanish-speaking nation is a major tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches. Consequently, the majority of the labor force works in the service industry. Agriculture is also a major industry. Many middle- and lower-class Dominicans work in luxury hotels and 5-star resorts, yet they barely earn enough money to support their families. The average income is $37 dollars per day. Forty percent of the population lives below the poverty line. High unemployment rates (14%) and underemployment- highly skilled workers in low-paying jobs- are major problems facing the Dominican people. For this reason, World Compassion Fellowship has focused efforts largely on development and empowering people with skills that will increase their chances of finding employment.
Since 2014, WCF has conducted weeklong intensive English Camps in Santo Domingo and an impoverished rural area known as 36 Kilometer, as well as business seminars for about 110 entrepreneurs and small business owners in Santo Domingo. In 2016, WCF sponsored its first weeklong intensive Computer Skills Camp in both locations.
Most Dominicans are very eager to learn English. Worldwide, English proficiency is an invaluable skill that employers seek in their prospective employees, as it is the universal language of business and the Internet. English proficiency is especially important in the Dominican Republic, since tourism is one of the country’s most important industries and many companies are now establishing call centers in the DR. Our intensive English camps are aimed at teaching the basics of conversational English.
Business training is in high demand as well. Economic development is needed to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line (currently 40% of the population) and reduce the unemployment rate (currently at 14%). Our seminars are designed to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners through teaching on Business Ethics, Business Plan Development, Marketing, Resource Management, Employee Care, Project Planning, Risk Management, Budgets/Finance and Technology Tools. The seminars conclude with small group sessions for more direct mentoring and question/answer sessions.
Computer literacy is a highly valuable skill that allows individuals seeking jobs to stand out to employers. While many youth in Santo Domingo have access to computers at school or at home and have varying degrees of knowledge of how to use them, the majority of youth in 36 Kilometer do not have basic computer skills. In our Computer Skills camps, students learn the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, and HTML, according to their skill level. For some, especially university students, this is very helpful for completing school assignments. For others, it opens up doors of opportunity for future employment. Long term, WCF hopes to continue developing and empowering youth and adults through computer skills training in Santo Domingo and 36 Kilometer.