Pray for Dominican Republic on Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pray for Dominican Republic on Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lectionary Selection: Matthew 5:13–20

Prayers for Dominican Republic:
Dear God help us to be the light of the world. Fill our hearts with love for every child, regardless of color, age, nationality, and religion. By caring for the children of the world let us shine your light as evidence of your love teaching the world how to love one another. As Christians, teach us to understand and accept practices and lifestyles that differ from ours. Help us to protect children through education and compassion instead of force and detainment. I pray that the world sees our service to these children and learns to make the rights of children and education a priority. Lead us to follow Matthew’s teachings to educate the masses and commit ourselves to the poor, the sick, the young and the old. Pray for teachers and educators of the Dominican Republic that they continue to love their overfilled classrooms. Pray for the police and tourists that they have compassion for the children working in the hot sun. Pray that Caminante staff never tires of petitioning for the rights and protections of children. Pray that the churches, networks of NGOs, and the international community continue to support Caminante’s mission to serve the children and families of the Dominican Republic. Amen.

Mission Stewardship Moment from Dominican Republic:
In the 2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor,  the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs estimates that there are 168 million child laborers worldwide with 85 million working in hazardous conditions, 12.5 million working in Latin America and the Caribbean and “the majority of child laborers in hazardous work”. In Boca Chica, every child working on the beaches or streets selling sweets and snacks or shining shoes is working in a dangerous situation. For these children, there are two main predators, the police and tourists.

As a child, I was taught that police are here to help and protect us when necessary, but for these children the police tease, chase, detain, and sometimes even physically hurt. While there are certainly police who have the children’s best interest in mind, their job is to ensure that the tourists are comfortable and protected. The working children are seen as an eye sore, annoying to tourists, and a potential thief. It is illegal for children under the age of 15 to work in the Dominican Republic and illegal to sell to tourists without a permit, so the police have the legal right to detain the children.

Caminante works with the police and legal officers to be the first call when a child is detained. Caminante then petitions for the release of the child into their care under the agreement that Caminante take them home to discuss the consequences and law with the child’s parent or guardian. Unfortunately, the working children, well known by the police are repeatedly detained and held longer and handled less gently. On a recent end-of-the-day trip to the police office, we found 5 boys waiting for us. Two of the boys had been there 24 hours before Caminante was notified. The other three were arrested a few hours before we arrived.

The police are not the only predators for child workers. Tourists are a major issue. Many tourists come to Boca Chica looking for sex – some seeking minors. In the Dominican Republic, like many poor countries, there are tourists who try to “save” the children by taking them out of the country. Most working children in the community have families and are not orphaned or homeless, but kidnapping is a very real vulnerability. So Caminante works to educate parents about the dangers of child labor and the legal rights of children. These educators reach out to child workers, not only to earn trust but also to lead them in fun recreational activities breaking up a long work day. When children become “former child workers” Caminante rewards them by supporting the child and family with a school uniform and school supplies

(Prayer and Mission Moment by Ashley Holst)

Mission Partners in Dominican Republic:

More information on Dominican Republic:

Global Ministries Missionary in Dominican Republic:
Ashley Holst, a member of Zion United Church of Christ, Marion, Ill., serves as a Global Mission Intern in the Dominican Republic with Proyecto Caminante. She works with street children in Caminante’s Outreach Ministry.