Soy niña, soy importante (SNSI), or "I'm a Girl, I'm Important", 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 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.
The SNSI program was founded in 2013, and during this pilot phase of our camp we targeted 100 girls aged 10 to 15. We soon realized that 15% of our registered campers were already married, divorced, had been pregnant, or were mothers. It became evident that we had to start with a younger age group for our programs to have more impact. In 2014 we adjusted the camper age range to 9-12 year old girls 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 our SNSI website and partnered with The Ocean Foundation as our fiscal sponsor which allowed us to fundraise via digital means. By 2016 we launched SNSI’s social media accounts and attracted new funding partners, raising international profile.
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.
IMPACT FROM ITS START
Honors & Awards
- Ethical Corporation. Soy niña, soy importante was shortlisted in 2013 as a finalist in the category "Most Effective Domestic Community Investment" among more than 400 candidates from all over the world.
- REDUCA. In 2016, Soy niña, soy importante is recognized by the Latin American Network for Education (REDUCA) as "Best Innovative Practice in Inclusive Education".
"The girls of Miches today are the young women, mothers, small 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. The foundation works with the community and establishes multi-sector partnerships allowing for innovative, high-impact programs and the efficient use of resources.
SNSI has enriched the lives of hundreds of girls and their families, many of whom face limited economic opportunities, teen pregnancy and unemployment. All told, SNSI has sponsored nearly 1,000 enrollments, which includes many girls who participate over successive years. The foundation holds yearly fundraising campaigns for SNSI, and recruits volunteers to help organize the camp, expand and refine programs, and engage families throughout the region.
Since its inception, Fundación Tropicalia’s programs have directly and indirectly influenced the lives of more than 8,000 people in the Miches community, benefiting hundreds of girls and families, many of whom face limited economic opportunities, teenage pregnancy and unemployment.
The Fundación Tropicalia team relies on years of direct experience to advance sustainable development through high-impact initiatives, local stakeholder engagement, and shared-value opportunities to drive business solutions to the most pressing social problems in the region.