Every journey begins with a single step . . . .
COPAs first single step was taken in 1991 when Sebert and Doreen Lane first travelled to the Province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. Barahona is in the south west of the country and far from the tourist areas which are 200 miles away in the North of the island. The benefits of tourism had not trickled down to this part of the island. The Community seemed without hope.
The villages of La Hoya and Bombita have been transformed thanks to 25 years of hard work by our volunteers, our sponsors, the committees in the US, UK and Guernsey, and of course the communities themselves.
During the first visit to La Hoya Sebert and Doreen were immediately struck by the extreme poverty in the village. As retired teachers they were horrified to find that the majority of the children in the village were not able to attend school due to a lack of school buildings and parents did not appear to have the resources necessary to buy clothes - much less pens and books.
With financial contributions, and by the efforts of many individuals and work teams, Community Partners Association have built a school in La Hoya which now serves as a model for the entire country. Since 1992, when the first classrooms were built, school attendance has increased from 40 children to over 350. A Dining Shelter serves as a gathering place for assemblies and other school activities. The COPA Mission House now accommodates resident volunteers and visitors.
And so the great day arrived. La Hoya had a real school. There was so much goodwill. It was then that we discovered the census carried out by the community indicating there were 200 children was very wide of the mark. Our work in La Hoya had only just begun!
La Hoya now has a fantastic education facility where pupils are educated to some of the highest standards in the country.
Bombita is small batey village largely occupied by descendants of Haitian immigrants. Depending only upon seasonal work cutting sugar cane, their living conditions are worsened by the lack of clean water supply, electricity and adequate drainage & sanitation. COPA responded to the plea for help in 1996. Contributions and work teams have developed a program similar to that in La Hoya, including a fine school and clinic.
Currently, 500 pupils attend the school which has recently received a large extension thanks to government funding and has also switched from providing half day sessions to whole day 'single tanda' education for pupils .
In the past COPA recruited a Health Adviser to provide support and training to the Dominican health care professionals in Bombita and La Hoya. However, they have now become self sufficient and only need minimal intervention.