Soy niña, soy importante (SNSI), or "I'm a Girl, I'm Important" by Fundación Tropicalia, is a summer day-camp in the Dominican Republic that serves girls ages 9-12 years old and provides a safe, nurturing environment where girls can simply be girls. The camp, an initiative of Fundación Tropicalia, gives young girls the guidance and tools they need to be self-reflective, critical thinkers and make timely life choices. The curriculum includes: Education in Values; Artistic Expression & Development; Development of Interpersonal Relationships, Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness; Sex-Ed and STD Prevention; Gender & Violence; Nutrition and Sports.
SNSI has enriched the lives of hundreds of girls and their families. All told, SNSI has registered nearly 2,000 participations, which includes many girls who re-enroll in the program year-after-year. We hold annual fundraising campaigns for SNSI, and recruit volunteers to help implement the camp. These efforts help us expand and refine our programs, and engage supporters both locally and internationally.
SNSI addresses several socioeconomic issues affecting girls and women in the Dominican Republic:
- Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world with an upward trend in teenage pregnancies under 15 years of age. Of every 1,000 teens between 15 and 19 years old nearly 100 have been mothers.
- Teen mothers are at a significantly higher risk of dropping out of school.
- Girls between the ages of 5 and 14 spend 40% more time doing housework than boys their same age.
- Education, access to sexual health and protection of the rights of girls are key to stopping and reversing these trends.
These national and international statistics show that adolescent girls are at special risk in developing rural communities. Young women face other challenges, including domestic violence and job inequality. Every summer, SNSI seeks to serve the most impoverished girls in Miches and provide a transformative experience. Through SNSI, a girl learns about her value in society, and is given the tools necessary to dream up a different kind of future.
Fundación Tropicalia founded the SNSI summer camp in 2013. During this pilot phase, we served 100 girls aged 10 to 15 and soon learned that 15% of our campers were already married, divorced, had been pregnant, or were mothers; we quickly realized that our preventive curriculum was reaching these girls too late. In 2014, we adjusted the camper age group to 9 through 12 years old and also increased the number of participants to 250. With this increase came additional funding as we introduced a company-wide fundraiser and matching-gift program in the United States, working with fiscal sponsors Friends of Educa and Dominican Foundation.
In 2015 we launched the SNSI website and launched Friends of Fundación Tropicalia in partnership with our fiscal sponsor The Ocean Foundation, effectively allowing us to fundraise online. By 2016, we began SNSI’s social media accounts and attracted new funding partners, attracting national and international attention to our cause.
Our volunteer program has also seen an evolution. During the first year of camp we worked with local volunteers and schoolteachers. As the camp grew, and to widen the girls’ interaction with outside resources, we began recruiting volunteers from Santo Domingo--mostly professional Dominican women who take personal vacation time to be with us and the girls from Miches. Their participation adds unexpected and tremendous value to SNSI.
In 2017, we reached a record of more than 300 girls in three camp sessions. In addition, we launched our Ambassador’s Network to support fundraising and awareness efforts. In November of the same year, and in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we organized the conference, Gender Equality in Dominican Republic: Rights and Opportunities, which received support from UN Women and the Dominican Ministry of Women.
In 2019, we began structuring our camp content around a specific theme and objective – My identity, wealth of my people. Establishing a conceptual theme to our program enabled us to increase girls’ engagement, awareness and acceptance of their value, culture, identity and ultimately their self-esteem as they move toward becoming agents of change for their communities and families.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we restructured camp in 2020 in order to accommodate the realities of social distancing and launched SNSI in a Box, delivering the magic of camp directly to our girls’ doorsteps and helping them overcome the challenges presented by extended periods of confinement and isolation. Each box explores a specific topic that’s especially relevant to our girls’ lives during these times, like how to improve their biosafety, define their long term goals, and understand their rights and options for reporting abuse or violence. Click here to learn more about SNSI in a BOX.
OUR IMPACT FROM THE START
US Dollars Raised
AN AWARD-WINNING PROGRAM
Latinoamérica Verde, 2019. Soy niña, soy importante was selected among the 500 best programs in the region by 2019 Latinoamérica Verde Awards. This platform exhibits different social initiatives in the region, classified into 10 categories aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
SABER Awards Latin America, 2019. Soy niña, soy importante won in the Caribbean category for its communication and outreach strategy.
Silver STEVIE Award, 2019. Silver in the category of NGO and Social Causes Communications Campaigns and Public Relations.
iNOVA, 2019. Silver in the Non-profit Campaign and Corporate Social Responsibility categories.
- REDUCA, 2016. Soy niña, soy importante was recognized by the Latin American Network for Education (REDUCA) as "Best Innovative Practice in Inclusive Education".
- Ethical Corporation, 2013. Soy niña, soy importante was shortlisted as a finalist in the category "Most Effective Domestic Community Investment" among more than 400 candidates from all over the world.
"The girls of Miches today are the young women, mothers, business owners and community leaders of tomorrow. They will play a fundamental role in breaking generational poverty cycles, and forging a new path toward prosperity in our community."
About Fundación Tropicalia
Established in 2008 by Tropicalia, a sustainable tourism and real estate development of Cisneros Real Estate, Fundacion Tropicalia drives sustainable, socioeconomic development in the town of Miches by implementing programs for the local community in four key areas: the environment, education, productivity, and socio-cultural advocacy. We engage local stakeholders and establish multi-sector partnerships to develop innovative, high-impact programs and identify shared-value opportunities, tailoring solutions to the most pressing social problems in the region. Throughout the years we’ve impacted more than 10,000 people in Miches directly or indirectly.