Every journey begins with a single step . . . .
COPAs first step was taken in 1991 when Sebert and Doreen Lane paid a short visit 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.
Sebert and Doreen were immediately struck by the extreme poverty in the village of La Hoya. As retired teachers they were particularly horrified to find that the large majority of the children in the village were not able to attend school due to a lack of school buildings and to the fact the parents did not appear to have the resources necessary to buy clothes - much less 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 350. A Dining Shelter serves as a gathering place for assemblies and other school activities. The Mission House now accommodates resident volunteers and visitors.
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, over 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 education (single tanda) for pupils.
In the past COPA recruited a Health Adviser to provide support and training to the Dominican health care professionals in both Bombita and La Hoya. However, they have now become self sufficient and only need minimal intervention.