A MISSION FOR THE CITIZENS IN CIUDAD ALTERNATIVA
Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic
For a year and a half, I have been working in Ciudad Alternativa, an institution originated in the Social Pastoral and the Ecclesiastic Communities of the Catholic Church. With more than 30 years of experience working for a more habitable city from everybody’s rights, Ciudad Alternativa has not only fight for the right to housing, but also for the right of basic services, such as light, water, culture and recreation, gainful employment, access to health and education, right to organize and ask for more social investment and public policy that can generate well-being and inclusion. This is a formation and articulation work of organizations and citizens that work for building a better world, something that we, Christians, call Kingdom.
I arrived to Ciudad Alternativa after years of assuming internal obligations in the congregation. I needed to live the experience of an external space for learning and helping at the same time in an area in which has always been related to everything that God has put on my way, social commitment. From parochial pastoral, biblical formation, the accompaniment in my first stages of formation and institutional obligations, I have felt that the social area -from my faith and my consecration- has been a meaningful aspect.
In this experience I have been part of different processes:
- The evicts in La Cienaga and Los Guandules on behalf of the government, where thousands of families found a place to fight for their lives on the banks of the rivers Ozama and Isabela in Santo Domingo. There, they made their dream come true with lots of effort and hope since they had no place to live in the city. Every Thursday, neighbors of these neighborhoods, after a long workday or after doing their housework, found some time for searching together the way in which the government could get back to the dialogue with them and stop treating them as a bump in the road that they wanted to get rid of.
- Another opportunity was the organization of the Third Division of Citizen Forum in the National District. Here I learned a lot: I learned that together we were stronger, we had more ideas and success possibilities; that we could have different political views -or none- and work for our local council hand in hand; I learned the importance of identifying the actors involved for getting improvements in our neighborhoods and the public policies where civil society has more influence. It is a slow, patient and persistent work, because there are many obstacles that you find along the way.
- Finally, I want to share with you my experience in the Political Formation School Mama Tingo, where I was responsible to accompany. Mama Tingo was a peasant in Trujillo’s time who was murdered for fighting her right to land (the land is owned by the person who works on it). Ciudad Alternativa along with COPADEBA (a committee for neighborhood rights) created this formation space using her name for young leaders from a critical thinking that awakes and generates in our more popular neighborhoods a seedbed of communitarian leaders who are sensible towards community problems and who are able to accompany different processes from different organizations and areas. Each student and group contribute from their own experiences and we build knowledge and proposals along with people who have large trajectory in topics such as neighborhood rights, social organizations, gender, culture, economy, pedagogy, social investigations, law, etc. The school prioritizes young people from popular neighborhoods, women, single mothers, people from LGBT communities and immigrants. In this cycle, we have had the opportunity of also sharing with disable students, with physical and listening disabilities. A diversity that has meant efforts and also a lot of wealth.
This is just a minimal part of everything that this extraordinary group of people who are part of Ciudad Alternativa makes. A diverse group as well, in experiences, areas, capacities and personalities, but all of us have joined in this space that generates transformation from a professional work and with much service vocation.
Thank you God for this opportunity.
Marisa Folgado Martí
Dominican Misionary Sister of the Rosary
Sabana Perdida Community