Pastor Veronica Taveras’s heart broke as she witnessed the children in her community of Batey Bienvenido skip class so they could earn money for their family.
Many of them worked as shoe shiners and even prostitutes. If they didn’t earn enough that day, their parents would punish them for their inadequacy.
Wanting to reach and help these children, Taveras started an after-school program of sorts —preparing hot meals for the children and teaching them stories from the Bible along with basic reading and writing skills. But she still wanted to do more for the children in her community.
Leaders like Taveras, who see a need and work to fill it, are the heart and soul of Christian Reformed World Missions’ partner ministry in the Dominican Republic—the Center for Transforming Mission (CTM).
CTM Director Mario Matos helps leaders like Taveras take the next step in improving their ministry. “There are many well-intended leaders who see a problem and want to respond,” said Matos. “We invite these leaders to consider all aspects of why people in their community are poor and why they suffer.”
Training events with Mario helped Taveras realize the variety of ways that she could further improve her ministry and help the children in Batey Bienvenido.
“Veronica wanted to feed the children but quickly learned there was much more going on in their home life,” said Matos.
As she learned more about the abuse in the children’s homes, Taveras began inviting parents to classes and helped them understand the harm they were doing to their children.
“Family violence has been greatly reduced in the area since these classes started,” added Mario.
Taveras also began connecting with other leaders in the CTM network. She learned more about other children’s ministries in her area; through those connections, she was able to provide children with medical appointments, school supplies, and even scholarships.
“Veronica’s program has greatly impacted the community of Bienvenido,” said Matos. “Her love and dedication is truly a sign of hope in a hard place.”