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Last month, on February 7th the Patronato Benefico Oriental (PBO) celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Forty years of helping and improving the lives of hundreds of children in La Romana. Starting off as a daycare center and later evolving into a school, it is an example and demonstration that if you act out of love others will be inspired to follow and together you can accomplish great things. This will be the first in a series of articles to commemorate PBO’s years of success.
Back in the 1970’s, a group of concerned local women had been helping a priest, Father Abreu, in La Romana with the daycare he had opened. When he died they offered to continue running operations, but realized in part to Monseñor Polanco that they were not organized or even had a bank account to sustain the daycare. Xiomara Menéndez was confident that they would be able to carry on and maintain their work; so in 1976, they founded the Patronato Benéfico Oriental (PBO) a non-profit organization created to help the underprivileged.
The ladies carried out meetings with volunteers but it was still very difficult for them since it was the first time they were structuring their operations. Slowly, people began noticing their efforts and that they were in it for the long haul, and more people and companies join in support.
It was very difficult, because when you start, nobody knows what you’re doing or trusts what you are doing, because not even you are sure.
– Xiomara Menéndez
Central Romana was one of them. They recognized the amazing labour PBO was doing and donated the land to build what would become the Hogar del Niño Padre Abreu in honor of the priest who started it all, in an effort to help the children in La Romana and the surrounding areas. As it grew, Oscar de la Renta, who was part of the Casa de Campo Community and also aiding the La Romana community with a school, spoke to Xiomara Menéndez about incorporating education along with the daycare center. In 1984, the school began academic instruction.
To this day, the organization is supported by donations from individuals and businesses along with the various events that are organized throughout the year such as Café de la Leche, A Night for the Kids, Hogar del Niño Annual Weekend, Casa de Campo Corre, and others that we will go into further detail in our next article. Hogar del Niño´s mission is to “provide underprivileged children with basic needs and through education give them the opportunity to be a productive adult.” They provide them with the tools to make a better future for themselves and their community.
Over 1,500 children arrive each day at Hogar del Niño from as early as 5:30 am and staying as late as 7pm, all between the ages of newborns through 18 years old. This includes 200 babies in the nursery room, over 600 toddlers in daycare and over 500 children in the school. The organization also provides special schooling for hearing-impaired and blind children. It also has a vocational school where over 235 students receive classes in sewing, industrial preparation, installation and electrical maintenance, plumbing and office programs. The families of these school children do not pay for their children’s attendance. Rather, the crib room and day care programs charge 8% of the cost of the services, which is subsidized by the foundation. PBO covers expenses through donations from individuals, businesses, foundations and fundraising.
Over 200 employees work at the institution, from doctors and dentists to cooks and cleaning personnel, from specialized teachers for early stimulation in the infant room to professional engineers at the vocational school. For a child to be admitted, both parents need to be working. If one is home and able to care for the child, the child is not admitted into Hogar del Niño to provide that opportunity to another child that might need it the most. More than half of the children come from a one parent home. A parent must come to the school for a meeting with a social worker and psychologist. Each home is visited every year during the summer to confirm the need for this help still exists. A social study is kept on each child and their family. In order to prevent school age children being on the streets trying to earn money, they are given more flexibility with their entrance requirements.
They also offer many programs to the children inside and outside of the classroom in extracurricular activities, which we will elaborate upon in our next article. Let’s continue helping PBO’s incredible organization and fulfill their beautiful mission for the children!! Stay tuned! See information on donating below.
Contact the Hogar del Niño, Patronato Benéfico Oriental (PBO):
Tel: (809) 523-8901 or (809) 556-3181
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Patronato Benefico Oriental
Donate: via Paypal or Check
Contributions in U.S. dollars are tax-deductible in the United States. If you want to make contributions in Dominican pesos, please calculate your gift at the current exchange rate. However, gifts in Dominican pesos are not tax-deductible in the U.S. Contributions of appreciated securities are a very tax favored way of showing your support. If you would like to do this, or make your donation through Wire Transfer, please contact us by email at [email protected] or call (809) 523-8901. Checks in US$ to: PBO US or Patronato Benefico Oriental of the United States (Tax I.D. # 52-1273588) Checks in RD$ to: PBO or Patronato Benéfico Oriental.
Pictures courtesy of PBO.