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Two of the Barceló Foundation’s regular collaborators explain us first-hand the devastating effects that the coronavirus is having on the most disadvantaged populations in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
Fourteen years ago, the Barceló Foundation, in collaboration with Comets of Hope, started the “Child Divers” project in Santiago de los Caballeros to provide schooling for the 300 children whose food supply was to search for food in the Rafey dump and thus put an end to child exploitation. Its President, Óscar Faes, assures “if in Spain, an advanced first world country with first class economic and sanitary means is going through a situation of collapse, imagine it here in the Dominican Republic“.
The poor conditions in family homes, lack of beds and medical supplies in hospitals and hunger are wreaking havoc on the people of the area. In fact, it is experiencing the highest mortality rate in the Caribbean region.
For this reason and in compliance with government orders, last March the Comets of Hope School, located in the neighborhood of La Mosca, temporarily suspended educational activity to its 323 students. But Óscar Faes and all the school’s staff have not stopped working for a minute distributing food to their students and their families so the situation does not get worse. “We are worried that parents will return to the dump with their children, looking for their daily sustenance, and that a situation that we managed to palliate together with the Barceló Foundation more than a decade ago will be reversed”.
On the other hand, in Guatemala the effects of COVID-19 are also being devastating. Xavier Gómez, vice-president of the NGO Vitamundi, with which our Foundation is developing several projects in the country, says “Guatemala is already an impoverished country, with a subsistence economy and serious food shortages, so you can imagine the difficult situation we are going through“.
The 160 young women with scholarships from the Barceló Foundation at the Ratzumkiche Women’s Promotion Centre also had to temporarily postpone their studies and return home when the authorities declared a state of emergency. “The Sisters of Charity of Santa Ana, who took care of the girls, are now helping the most vulnerable communities of Boloncó, without any kind of economic income, providing them with food and drinking water” – says Gomez – “but let’s hope that all this will end soon because we don’t have enough funds to face this global emergency”.
From here we want to thank all the collaborators of our international cooperation projects, for their effort and dedication to the most needy in these especially difficult moments of health emergency.