While I knew a few of my neighbors well growing up, I never had the neighborhood experience of club houses, multiple mother figures or pick-up soccer games. In many parts of the Dominican Republic, in contrast, the neighborhood is often still as or more important to a child’s formation as his or her immediate family. Neighbors are not like family, they are family; they share food; they watch each others’ kids; they keep an eye out.
When I think about the education of children in the Dominican context, I think of how important it is to have a challenging school, involved parents who reinforce behavior and skills at home and finally, a community of people who want the best for the children’s future. For me, the ideal neighborhood is one where there is space for good conversations, accountability, resource sharing and belonging.

That’s what I love about schools that Edify works with; they often have this same vision for their neighborhood. They know that schools, churches and other community centers can set the culture for the wider community. In schools that teach AMO curriculum (a holistic approach to teaching children the love of Christ and that He has a purpose for their lives), students are given prayer cards to bring ¬†home so that their mother can pray for them and their father can read a blessing over their head. To me, that is a fantastic example of transformation of the family and the community, using the student as an ambassador!

We’d love to hear from you: How can we actively imagine neighborhoods that have a culture of care rather than abuse, community rather than materialism, solidarity rather than disempowerment?

(This is the second in a series of posts on education outside of the classroom. For the first in the series, click here: education in the family.)