Some of you recently reached out to enquire how “quarantining on the beach” felt…? Well, not like what you may imagine. So I thought I would volunteer some information on how isolating from the pandemic recently turned into fighting food shortages for 10,000 of my neighbors. An unexpected nudge from life I would like to share with you now…
The story starts in Cabarete, a small beautiful beach town on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic where I live most of the time for 2 years now. Home to a culturally rich population of over 25,000 people, where locals primarily make their living off of tourism which provides basic necessities for the majority of the population.
Yet, on March 18th 2020, the Dominican Republic was forced to shut down its borders in response to the COVID-19 crisis, leaving Cabarete no tourism to subsist on for an indefinite amount of time. As a result, 80% of the local population is now unemployed and is considered “food insecure” meaning they have less than 3 days of food available – and no savings to speak of in a country where the average salary is $250/month.
So with a few friends we decided to join forces to create Cabarete Sostenible (or Sustainable Cabarete) www.cabaretesostenible.org: a coalition of NGOs, community leaders, food providers, elected officials and volunteers uniting to solve the current food-shortage crisis. Personally I am heading marketing, filmmaking and coordinating the efforts of the NGOs when it comes to fundraising. I also brought the Positive Solutions team in to help support the effort.
Our goal with the Cabarete Sostenible coalition is two pronged:
- In the short term, we provide for nutritious food sourcing and distribution to the neediest families.
- In the mid-to-long-term, we aim to develop permaculture design and the immediate implantation of shade houses, seed banks and large-scale farming, providing the local population with the means to feed itself moving forward.
Over the last 3 weeks we started an initial fundraising effort while asking for volunteers to apply both locally and internationally, on the ground and online (www.cabaretesostenible.org/volunteer).
We have also started the distribution of Ration Packs to hundreds of families, consisting of rice, beans, proteins, fruit, greens, soap, bleach and more. Thanks to our coalition food partners, feeding one person for one-week is carrying a purchasing cost for us of less than $4 per person per week. That’s right: $4 feeds a person for an entire week!
In parallel, for the mid to long term, Cabarete Sostenible is starting community gardens, permaculture projects and vertical farms throughout the community, while training and tutorial video courses are being produced to jumpstart the community effort for sustainable food program development.
All financials are transparent, independently audited and 100% of monies donated go toward the food supply programs. Everyone on the ground is freely donating time, money, work and expertise.
Yet the idea is to go beyond providing a local solution to residents of Cabarete. The potential for starvation is a very real consequence to the COVID-19 crisis for a lot of communities in the developing world and we are hoping that the model we are creating here can be used and adapted elsewhere: in South America, Africa, and even areas of Europe and the US.
So feel free to share and pass it on! Thank you and stay safe.