The difficult life of Los Palomos and other neglected children in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic remains like many other Caribbean countries marked by persistent socio-economic inequality. In a country that is home to hundreds of luxury resorts, approximately one-fifth of all Dominicans live in shacks, mostly without access to running water, proper sanitation and electricity. The widespread poverty particularly affects the most vulnerable segment of society: children. More than one million children in the country live in poverty and over half a million children under the age of 15 are without parental care. Children frequently don’t attend school and are forced to participate in the labor force. Many of these kids can be seen living homeless on the streets where they beg, clean windshields or hustle shoe shines to earn a few pesos for food. They are commonly called ‘niños de la Calle’ or ‘Palomos’, a slang that translates to rascals, pests or nuisances. They are partly Dominicans and partly Haitians without legal status or rights. What they share is that their lives are marked by a vicious circle of dangerous exposure to drugs, crime, violence and sexual exploitation.
We are changing that by supporting Matthias Ludwig’s boxing project for vulnerable Dominican children
We are the co-initiator and exclusive financier of a project run by former German box champion Matthias Ludwig supporting around 20 of the poorest boys aged 8-14 from the barrios of Santo Domingo Este by providing them with free box training and a meal three times per week. In his teens, Matthias went through times: confronted with drug abuse, neighbourhood gangs, and violence on a daily basis, he did not see much of a future in life ...until he came in touch with boxing. The sport put him back on the winning track: within a few years, he became German box champion, represented his country in international competitions, completed professional training as a baker and today Matthias is happily married, proud father of 2 boys and runs a small but flourishing bakery in Santo Domingo. Through the sport and constant mentoring, the kids should develop both the skills and personality to become masters of their own fate to overcome the socio-economic circumstances limiting their prospects in life. The kids are helped and encouraged in their schooling and educational needs. At the same time, the box training helps to release and absorb any aggressive potential and thus prevents and controls aggressive and violent behaviour. Former WBA world champion in cruiserweight, German-Turkish boxer Fiat Arslan is the honorary patron of the project. With their project, they are delivering a punching strike to help the poor kids of the barrios and change their life with boxing just how it changed their life many years ago.