Nazareth House is a home for disabled children and young people in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Dominican Republic is bordered by the country of Haiti to the east which shares the island.
Contact was first made with Nazareth House when our Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Bowden, visited the Dominican Republic in 2011 with her husband to help build homes and a school for Haitian refugees. The Haitian refugees had moved to the Dominican Republic after a big hurricane had struck Haiti in 2010 destroying homes and towns.
The Haitian refugees as well as many of the ordinary people in the Dominican Republic live in extreme poverty and a family may have to live on less than £1 a day (£7 week). Many, many people do not have birth certificates or legal certificates to say they can live in the country – this means their Government will not help them so they can’t go to school or receive medical treatment.
Nazareth House is run by a Carmelite nun called Sister Mercedes. She felt God call her to open an orphanage for disabled children. She currently has 20 children and young people living in her home all of whom have a disability. The children have come to her from hospitals, or had been left on her doorstep, or she found them living by themselves in the streets. Unfortunately, the children’s parents felt unable to care for them or were too poor to look after them.
At first Sister Mercedes did not feel she could look after the disabled children either but slowly realised that with her belief in God and letting His Love be her love, she could set up a home and care for them.
Running any home is expensive but running a home for children with disabilities is even more expensive as many need special equipment and important medicine every day. Sister Mercedes relies on the generosity of other people to keep the home open. In October 2019, she nearly had to shut the home down because she nearly ran out of money. It is very worrying what would happen to the children and young people if this were to happen.
When Mrs Bath and Mrs Bowden shared the story of Sister Mercedes with St Mark’s children, they wanted the money that we raise from our Christmas Jumper Day to be sent to the children at the home. Even though Sister Mercedes home is a long way away we can let our light shine and share our core Christian Value of Friendship with them.
During 2020, we hope to find out from Sister Mercedes if there is something specific for her home we could raise money for through our Money Project in the summer term.