In March of 2000 a group of 12 high school students and three teachers from Academy of the Holy Names high school in Tampa, Florida traveled to the town of La Victoria in the Dominican Republic. It was supposed to be a one time experience to fill an interim week. The group worked and stayed with the Sisters of Schoenstatt, a group of catholic sisters whose mission is to work with the poor. The sisters selected 12 families for them to visit.
Totally unprepared for what they would encounter, the group had packed “small luxuries” for the families they planned to visit. They packed kitchen utensils, oven mitts, kitchen towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. Before our first family visit to one of the “campos”, one of the sisters tactfully suggested that the toothpaste be removed from the care packages for fear that the children would eat it.
The group was shocked by the inhumane conditions in which these families lived. Many of the adults and children were severely malnourished, the children had distended stomachs due to parasites, hygiene was almost nonexistent, rotting teeth ruined their smiles, no running water, dirt floors, and huts constructed with mismatched pieces of tin for palm fronds.
Immediately the pioneer missionaries became aware of the dire need in La Victoria. Friendships were made between missionaries and members of the community of La Victoria. The missionaries vowed to return to La Victoria the next year with more aid and have been returning ever since. We now have many long lasting friendships with members of the community and success stories of those whom we have helped, and who have helped us along the way.
In the year 2006, we officially founded this nonprofit organization with the purpose of educating, providing medical care and job skill assistance to the community of La Victoria. We continue to advance our mission with the help of many. We have had missionaries join us from throughout the nation in our endeavor to advance our mission in La Victoria. As of 2012, we have had over two-hundred missionaries travel with us to La Victoria. We have established a medical mission trip (now in its third year of planning); and, we continue to work towards providing business loans, and educational opportunities (including scholarships) to our adopted members of the La Victoria community.
Today Seeds of Hope for La Victoria is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board meets monthly to discuss the existing projects and programs. We continue to support programs that help families to help themselves. These programs include:
- Home visits to educate families on hygiene
- Providing support and encouragement for children attending school
- Paying for emergency surgery and medical care as necessary
- Helping the breadwinner of our families to find ways to make a living, including providing micro-business loans
- Teaching and encouraging families to grow vegetable gardens to feed themselves as well as sell or share their crops with others
- Providing yearly dental care by a U.S. mission dentist and oral surgeon
- Building concrete block houses for families that have shown determination and progress and/or live in dangerous dwellings
- Paying tuition, travel expenses and books for selected college students
- Financing periodic day camps and field trips for children in the program
Since 2000, a group of missionaries, students as well as adults, travel to the town of La Victoria to visit the adopted families. Our missionaries bring food, clothing, shoes and teach members of the La Victoria community how to harvest and maintain sustainable food sources. The missionaries paint houses that have been funded and constructed by Seeds of Hope members. However, the most important mission of each trip is to show these families that someone cares for them and to provide abundant “Seeds of Hope”.