Stories of Change

Sofia, president of the women's association Rancho Pedro Arriba. Photo: Adele Williams / CWS

“Now the women of Rancho Pedro Arriba have a plan.”

There are 27 families in the village of Rancho Pedro Arriba in the Dominican Republic, near the border with Haiti. For better or worse, these families have to work together to overcome the challenges with living in an extremely isolated community.

Even getting in and out of Rancho Pedro Arriba is tough. Public transportation stops once a day at a crossroad nearly four miles from the community. Four people here own motorcycles. When they are not working away from the village as security guards, they can give you a ride to the nearest town, but it will cost 500 Dominican pesos (about $9). When those four people are out of town, you’ve got to rely on either a mule or your own two feet to get where you need to go. And when it rains, cars and motorcycles can’t use the steep, muddy track. 

Working together to survive is a fact of life here. The women’s association has 16 members who team up to work for the benefit of the community and grow vegetables improve their diets. Sofia Ogando is its president. She remembers one time when the group of women had a good harvest of tomatoes; they walked to neighboring communities and sold their surplus. “Neighbors also came to buy in our community. We made some money that year,” she remembers. 

Now, that association is adding three new groups to their team. CWS, along with our partners Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas and Growing Hope Globally, is planning to help the women make that tomato harvest the rule rather than the exception.

Together, we’ll be supporting the association’s members as they plant vegetables together. The program team includes experts who will spend time in Rancho Pedro Arriba, leading workshops and offering advice. Over the next three years, we’ll be there to help the community become more food secure. Hopefully, by the end of the program, the association members will be confident enough and will have the skills to start self-sustaining, income generating activities. 

We’ve got big dreams with Sofia and her association. And she believes that the program will strengthen the unity among the group so that they can achieve more together.

“Now the women of Rancho Pedro Arriba have a plan.”