A Life-Changing Experience in the Dominican Republic

FAQ’s

Who are Holy Child Volunteers?

Volunteers are lay individuals who wish to share in the mission of Christ and in the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Child, which is “to help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in God’s presence.” Holy Child Volunteers do this by serving at the mission site of the Sisters of the Holy Child in the Dominican Republic, which encompasses both a school and medical clinic. Holy Child Volunteers provide quality education and service by teaching in the school for one or two years. Every year, four Holy Child Volunteers live in community and discover that by focusing on the needs of others they themselves grow personally, spiritually, and professionally.

Whom do you serve at the Dominican Republic mission site?

Annually, we serve 400 children and teens at our school and nearly 10,000 individuals at our medical clinic. Read more here.

Who is eligible to be a Holy Child Volunteer?

Applicants must be at least 21 years old; proficient in Spanish (both writing and speaking); have earned a four-year college degree; and be willing to commit to at least one year of service.

What is the length of the commitment for Holy Child Volunteers?

Holy Child Volunteers serve for 10-12 months—usually from August to June. Some choose to continue beyond this initial commitment. This determination is made annually following a conversation between each Holy Child Volunteer and the Program Director.  The 2017-2018 volunteer year will start with an orientation in New York on July 26, 2017 and will conclude on June 30, 2018 in the Dominican Republic. (Volunteers will fly directly to the Dominican Republic at the conclusion of the multi-day orientation in New York.)

Do I need to know Spanish to be a Holy Child Volunteer?

Yes. Spanish is essential. All Holy Child Volunteers are responsible for knowing Spanish. If you do not know Spanish and wish to be a Holy Child Volunteer, you need to learn it in the U.S. before your arrival. You could also learn it in the Dominican Republic before our program begins in August. However, July and August are the two hottest months in the Dominican Republic. (Most of the persons we work with in the Dominican Republic speak both Spanish and Creole. Creole is not necessary–but if you have studied Haitian Creole, great! If not, concentrate on Spanish!)

How do I apply?

To apply to be a Holy Child Volunteer, complete our application. In addition to the application form, a completed application also includes:

  • Two Essays: One in English and One in Spanish
  • Current Resume
  • College Transcript
  • Three recommendations
  • Montessori School Observation Form

Once we receive your completed application, we will contact you to set up a phone interview.

What compensation do Holy Child Volunteers receive?

A small monthly personal expense reimbursement, as well as having their room, board, and medical insurance covered. Due to limited funds, we have had to consult with those accepted into the program about the possibility of their raising or contributing funds so that we can continue to accept lay volunteers each year.

Is there public transportation?

Public transportation here is unique—and sometimes stressful. One has to adapt to very crowded public cars and buses, with drivers who are not always careful.

Is there internet access?

We have internet access which is a great help—but a challenge to this benefit is electric outages.

What do Holy Child Volunteers wear?

Informal attire that is acceptable in the U.S. for going into town or to Church is often seen as inappropriate here. We have been criticized and told, for example, that shorts are ok for around the house or in the neighborhood, but are not appropriate for going to Church or a meeting. Although U.S. styles are seen more and more here, we ask you to dress modestly and professionally, remembering that you are seen as missioners and represent a religious group (our religious order!). In the batey, “dressing professionally” would mean wearing slacks (or skirts) and a T-shirt. Once you arrive, you receive five t-shirts with our emblem to wear in our school.

How is your mission connected with Fe y Alegría?

We are associated with Fe y Alegría (Faith and Joy), an organization sponsored by the Jesuits which has schools for poor children throughout the Dominican Republic and many other nations of Latin America. Ever since we began our work here in 1995, we have helped out in various areas: working in the nearby Fe y Alegría School as teachers, teachers’ aides and “librarians;” teaching there in a weekly literacy program for adults and youth; going once a week to a Haitian worker camp (batey) to help out in educational efforts there. (There are hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the DR.)

In 1998, Fe y Alegría asked us to concentrate our efforts in Batey Lecheria, for it is well known here that the Haitians are the poorest of the poor in the Dominican Republic and victims of racism and exploitation. So we now go each day to the batey, principally working with children in our educational center, which uses the Montessori approach as far as possible. Some volunteers have also offered to help in their free time with adult literacy, religious education, or in our clinic. In 2002, due to the number of visitors, our congregation purchased the house next door, which has been a God-send! Our original house, which we still use all the time, belongs to Fe y Alegría.

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