Location: The North Coast, Dominican Republic
Important Donors: No current donors
Birth Registration for poor Dominicans and Dominicans of Haitian Descent is a serious issue in the Dominican Republic. Without birth certificates, students cannot attend high school in the Dominican Republic and young adults cannot apply for the identity card (cedula) needed to work. Complicated rules and new legislation has made the problem more difficult in recent years. In Spring 2011, DREAM partnered with Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA) on a Community Census and Report to help define DREAM’s Birth Certificate Project in the future. The report, named A Dream Deferred: Birth Registration and Access to Education in the Dominican Republic, found that 28.6% of the children in the community did not have a birth certificate.
Using the SIPA report as our blueprint, DREAM continues to work on this issue in all of our communities by training local community members in the birth certificate process so they can assist their neighbors.
In 2012, DREAM continued the success of its birth certificate program by launching a 20-hour technical course on documentation and human rights. For the North Coast course, DREAM adapted a curriculum developed by the Peace Corps’ Declaro Mis Derechos initiative in collaboration with World Vision and Centro Bono, providing a unique spin by recruiting participants from key institutions, including Caritas-Puerto Plata, Health Horizons International, Integracion Juvenil, Centro de Promocion y Solidaridad Humana (CEPROSH), and Dove Missions. Throughout the course, participants assessed the level of undocumented youth by conducting community diagnostics, identified and began the process of resolving real cases in their communities, and delivered educational workshops to local community members. Participants have been fully trained to assist and educate their neighbors on how to obtain their legal documentation.
The course graduated 30 community leaders from Gaspar Hernandez to Puerto Plata. Graduates now form part of a regional network, LUCEROS (Luchando por Derechos Humanos), which hosts monthly meetings to strengthen the network, track progress on casework, and support advocates in educating their communities. In addition, all DREAM students without documentation are enrolled in our LUCEROS program and receive support in securing their birth certificates and cedulas.
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