Dominican Republic

Stories from change-makers in Dominican Republic

Marelin Jessica Hilma
Sponsor Girl in Punta Cana
There’s the Punta Cana that tourists see, and there’s the Punta Cana that Marelin lives in.
Outside of the luxury resorts with private beaches, the majority of locals live in poverty. This extreme inequality creates a lot of potential for exploitation — especially of young girls.

“Children are being sexually exploited everywhere you look,” says Marelin. “I know so many cases I don’t even have time to tell you about all of them.”

Many girls sleep with tourists out of desperation for money. “The girls do it out of necessity,” explains Marelin. “They’re struggling financially and aren’t receiving a quality education.”

Marelin lives in a one-room house with her mother, who suffers from a long-term illness. Life isn’t easy, but she understands her right to have control over her body, and refuses to give that up.

And she’s partnered with Plan to make sure other girls understand that, too. Marelin leads a group of local young activists. They engage with young people in the community through workshops and events. And they help victims of exploitation get support and access to vocational training.

“Now I feel sure that no man will ever be able to sexually exploit me,” Marelin says.

Thanks to her bravery and activism, hundreds of other girls in Punta Cana can say the same.
Protect more girls like Marelin
Girl In Dominican Republic school
Jessica, though only 14 years old, knows what she wants to do with her life.
And that’s work in the technology sector.

How does she know that? It all started when she participated in a Plan program that brought advanced digital technology lessons to students in Dominican Republic.

“Being a part of this helped me decide to study networks and programming,” she says.

In communities like where Jessica lives, it’s often thought that certain subjects, like technology, are just for boys. But Jessica doesn’t care what others think. She’s passionate about learning, and knows that she’s just as capable as any male classmate.

And she has some words of wisdom for other girls interested in technology.

“To girls who are my age, I would tell them that if they like technology, don’t feel discouraged if people tell you that this is just for men. Your gender does not define what you can achieve.”
Learn more about our Education work
Plan Coordinator in Dominican Republic Speaking About Sponsorship
Hilma is a sponsorship coordinator at the Plan office in Dominican Republic.
She’s really been training for this role her whole life — because when she was just 5 years old, she became a sponsored child herself.

Hilma remembers the letters and gifts she received from her sponsor, and how special they made her feel. But she also remembers how sponsorship opened doors for her — doors that changed her life.

When she was 10 years old, Hilma was chosen to participate in another Plan program. She learned about children’s rights and was taught how to write stories and create radio shows.

“This opened the door for me to later become one of the leaders of my community,” says Hilma. “My life changed for good thanks to my involvement with Plan. I am a living example of how sponsorship can transform children’s lives.”

Hilma went on to finish college, and after graduation, she decided to work at Plan. She’s now paying it forward, helping children across her country find the same empowerment and resources that got her to where she is today.

“We are a family,” Hilma says about Plan. “It is the work that you do day-to-day that challenges you to be better, to give more. When you love what you do, it keeps you in touch with reality and touches the most sensitive fibers of your heart.”
Learn more about sponsorship

Plan International has been working to improve children’s lives in Dominican Republic since 1987.

Our work in Dominican Republic

Girl Showing Strength For Equality
Office & operations

Plan International Dominican Republic’s country office is in Santo Domingo, with programs in Azua, Barahona, Elías Piña, Independence, La Altagracia, Pedernales, San Cristóbal, San Juan, San Pedro de Macorís and Santiago.

Technical areas

Protection, health, economic empowerment, disaster preparedness

Number of sponsored children

As of June 30, 2022, people like you sponsor 19,109 children in Dominican Republic through Plan International.

Why sponsor with Plan?

Gender equality is a fight we must all take on together. Through sponsorship, you can change lives and create long-term impact in communities.

The full circle of Fate

When you sponsor a child through Plan, you form an incredible friendship.

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But that’s just the beginning. With Plan, you also have the unique opportunity to:

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Send them birthday gifts and cards.

Little Treasures icon

Give them special holiday presents called Little Treasures.

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Subscribe them to Plan’s educational kids’ magazine, Sunny Days.

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Arrange a visit (pending any travel restrictions), with individual travel assistance from us.

Each gift offering is safely hand-delivered by us, and given to your child with personalized cards from you. It’s likely that the child you sponsor will have never seen anything like these gifts, and with the exception of Little Treasures they’re available year-round to make the bond between you and your sponsored child even stronger.

Meet a child to sponsor