Francisco del Rosario Sánchez Neighborhood
The community of Francisco del Rosario Sanchez is located in the northern part of the city of Santiago. There are more than 1000 Dominican adults living in this area, with families averaging three or four children. Approximately 600 Haitian adults live in this neighborhood as well, and their families tend to have four or five children.
Most of the people in Francisco del Rosario Sanchez work in Zonas Francas (Free Zones) making minimum wage. Free Zones are complexes full of factories which produce products that will eventually be exported to the United States or Europe. They are called duty free or “Free Zones” because the factories are not required to pay taxes on the products which are made there. The government allows this because it creates jobs for the community, and the businesses benefit because they do not have to pay high labor costs. Individuals who are not employed by Free Zone factories often own small food businesses which operate on the streets.
La Escuelita is a preschool which is dear to the hearts of Jose Luis Melendez and his wife, Daisy, who operate it. Their program is for children between the ages of 2 and 4 years of age, which fills a huge need for the community since the local public schools do not accept children until they are 5 years old. And unfortunately, public schools in this community can only accept a limited number of students each year. Jose Luis and Daisy have developed a partnership with the public schools which secures public school entry for each 5 year old who is a graduate of La Escuelita.
Students at La Escuelita are taught basic educational concepts such as colors, vowels and an introduction to art. They are also taught basic Bible principals. They learn about God, the Bible and they learn how to pray.
La Escuelita is meeting many needs in the area of early childhood education for the community of Francisco del Rosario Sanchez:
- Children are provided an opportunity to spend the day receiving an education in a safe environment as opposed to wandering the streets.
- Students are taught about love and respect as they receive positive attention from people who genuinely care about them.
- The school provides children with age appropriate basic concepts in Christianity and general education.
Jose Luis and Daisy are ministering to this community not just by educating its children, but by developing intentional relationships with their parents as well. Entire families are being shown the love of Christ and this community is being impacted in an amazing way as a result.
These children are attending their first day of school for the 2018-19 school year.