A group of businesspeople, professionals and families of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent have come together to collaborate with the Ferries del Caribe Foundation to build 199 cement homes for underprivileged families living in subhuman conditions on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, the company announced Monday.
The new homes, which offer their residents running water and sanitary services, replaced the same number of mud huts the impoverished families built in the Batey Isabela community in Barahona, Dominican Republic. During a recent visit to the town, executives of Marine Express, which runs the foundation, handed over the keys to 42 families that will move into the most recently built dwellings.
“For approximately six years we have assumed the task of providing this community the necessary elements so that they have the quality of life, health and safety that every human being deserves,” said Néstor González, president of Marine Express. “We have been building concrete houses in Batey Isabela through donations and the proceeds of the fishing tournaments sponsored by our foundation for this purpose. Our aim is that all families have a secure roof over their heads.”
The 42 homes that were turned over to their new residents were built with the proceeds from the 5th annual fishing tournament hosted by the Foundation, as well as contributions by Casa de Campo Marina and Marine Express. The amount invested was not revealed. Marine Express operates the ferry that connects Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic via routes between Mayagüez, San Juan and Santo Domingo.
“For every dwelling built with the proceeds of the fishing tournaments organized by the foundation, Marine Express Inc. builds the same amount of homes,” said Marine Express Vice President Maribel Mas.
Another 20 homes are planned to be built with the money generated through the sixth edition of the fishing tournament slated to take place March 29-31 at the Casa de Campo Marina in La Romana, the executives said.
“These will be the last [cement homes to be built] because they replace the last huts left, but the foundation will not stop helping and promotion community support for this area,” González said, noting that the foundation also finished building and enabled the Batey School, developed a computer center equipped with seven machines, and built infrastructure to deliver drinking water to the Batey community.
Once the new homes are completed, the foundation will have met its goal of turning Batey Isabela into a “nice community with all basic facilities and a hygiene level well above the living conditions of those Dominican families had. We can see that improving the quality of life motivates them to be better.”
With most of the work completed, the Ferries del Caribe Foundation will now set its sights on the Sabana Perdida Sector of Santo Domingo, where it will build facilities for handicapped children in the area.
“Currently about 67 children receive help in facilities that are not appropriate for their conditions and it is our interest that they get a better quality of life,” he said.