This post is also available in: Spanish

Since I first arrived in the Dominican Republic 9 months ago, I have slowly been getting used to life out here and little by little getting to know the sights and sounds of la Romana and Casa de Campo. During this time I have become familiar with two charities; the MIR foundation and the Hogar del Nino, and despite having attended fundraising events for both charities, I had up until recently only a very basic understanding of what both charities do. However, last week I was given the opportunity to visit the Hogar del Niño and discovered that it is much more than a children’s day care centre.

On arriving at the Hogar, the first room I saw was not a play room, or the crib room or even a classroom, it was a dentist’s office, which was the last thing I expected to see at a day care centre! It was then that I realised how special the Hogar del nino is – providing comprehensive care to every child in the home, it has 3 part-time dentists, a pediatrician, a pharmacy, nurses, a counselor, a psychologist and of course teachers, to fully care for the children in every way. Next stop was the Crib room, which I personally found enchanting – row after row of white cribs, all filled with tiny babies being cared for by an army of trained nannies, with a maximum of 5 babies per nanny. The room has more than 200 babies all of which are bathed twice a day and fed 3 or 4 times – with the milk donated by the Cafe de La Leche. Just outside the crib room is a play area for the older babies – toddlers really, who were all having a great time playing and making a lot of noise! After the crib room I visited the Hogar’s school for the deaf, which currently has 75 pupils as well as 3 blind students, which was a delight to see, brightly decorated, well-equipped rooms, filled with happy, polite children, grateful for the chance to get an education. Next door was the Hogar’s beauty school, which trains the Hogar’s young ladies to be able to work in Salon’s, in fact the first group of trainees graduated last year and are already working in salons in La Romana! Finally, I visited the Hogar’s school facilities, including classrooms (all beautifully painted by volunteers), a computer suite, a newly-built library with the capacity to hold 20,000 books, a basketball court, outdoor play areas and a dining room. As I was leaving I was lucky enough to see the younger pupils filling in to get their lunch, and to be honest I was a little jealous – the food looked so good I wanted some! My overall impression of the Hogar was one of awe, the atmosphere is so welcoming and homely, all the staff smiling and friendly, the buildings are bright and colorful, but most importantly the children are happy. The Hogar del Nino is a truly wonderful place and if you haven’t visited then I strongly recommend a visit – I’m already planning my next trip and thinking up schemes to help out more! To visit the Hogar del Nino, find out more or make a donation, their contact information is: Dominican Republic: PATRONATO BENEFICO ORIENTAL Avenida Libertad #5, La Romana, Rep. Dominicana Tel. 809-523-8901, 809-556-3181. Fax. 809-550-9661, United States: PBO of US 2600 S.W. 3rd Ave., Suite 600 Miami, Florida 33129 Tel. 305-854-4234, Fax 305-854-0796 If you do visit the Hogar del Nino and would like to write an article about how you feel about it, do not hesitate to contact us – we would love to hear from you!