Maritza: “I worry about people that have no one who cares about them”
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. In this edition we decided to switch things up. We spoke to an inspiring woman who is helping countless of adults and children in Higuey. Her name is Maritza German. She runs an orphanage and has a school for the blind. BOP was inspired by this woman’s story.
“I am 62 but I have the spirit of a 15-year old,” Maritza says laughingly as she calmly sits in her house in Higuey. She had a long day at work. “This morning I started at 8:30 and I am just finishing now.” It is 6:30 in the evening.
Maritza has always had a soft spot for people in need. At first she started with her career as a secretary. But when she saw that there were no facilities for deaf and mute people in her town she decided to change. “I have always been a person who wants to help others that are in need. At that time in 1987 I noticed that there were a lot of people that could not hear and could not express themselves. It was like a sign, when I saw an ad in the newspaper that introduced a study in Santo Domingo that taught sign language, psychology and pedagogy. So, I started the studies. It was intensive but worth it.”
“There was a need in Higuey for someone to teach deaf and mute people how to get independent. When I finished my studies in Santo Domingo I started teaching right away. I started a school that was financed by the School for the Deaf and Mute in Santo Domingo. It was about teaching people sign language, how to write and also how to speak. Teaching them how to communicate. It was so nice to see people progress. We had 80 adults and 6 kids in our school.
Because I love studying and helping others I decided to go back to school another time. This time it was about teaching blind people how to read and self manage, because I also observed that there was a need for that in my town Higuey. After I finished these studies I started teaching them too. I taught them how to do chores around the house, read braille, but also how to massage. It is all about making people self reliant. It worked. I have people who went to my school who work at the Melia Tropical in Punta Cana now. They are trained masseurs. I feel it’s great that Melia gives these opportunities to them.”
Even though Maritza was teaching the deaf, mute and the blind she still worried about the children she saw sleeping in the streets in Higuey. “I can’t help it, I worry about people with disabilities who have no one to care about. When I walk in the street, I see children with nothing. They beg or try to do little chores, or they simply do bad stuff to survive. I just could not let this sight go, so I formed a group to start an orphanage. At first we started brainstorming to see how we could manage this. A house was needed, financial help and people to care for the kids. There was a lady who borrowed her house with a big patio to us.
Another couple was willing to live with the kids in the house and so our orphanage Un Mundo Mejor Para la Ninez (English: A better world for the kids) started in 2000.”
The Orphanage Maritza runs is only for boys, because they do not have the facilities to both facilitate boys and girls together. “We need a bigger space to have boys and girls together. Although the house has space for 40 kids we only have 25 at the moment because we survive on donations. With that what we get now we are able to let these kids live comfortably. The boys come to us from the Fiscalia Menores. This is an organization that picks kids of the street and places them in homes. Most of the children we get are either abandoned by their parents, or have no parents anymore. Some still have family, but they do not take care them. Once we had 2 brothers brought to us. Their mom could not take care of them and was killed shortly after they stayed in the orphanage. One of the brothers who was 13 at the ran away to his family, because he did want to stay with us. But he returned, because he said that with us he felt loved and with his family he didn’t. Of course we accepted him back with open arms.”
For Maritza it is important that the kids get an education and obtain work when they leave the orphanage at 18 or 19 years old.
“We bring our kids to school. When they are done with high school we cannot send them to an University because we simply do not have the funds. We do make sure that they get a job with the partners we work with. Chic hotel, Paradisus, and Melia all have employees that were in our orphanage.”
Maritza is careful to express what the future will hold. She was able to get a piece of land where they will be constructing a big orphanage in the future, because the place they are in at the moment is not theirs. She dreams of having enough space to facilitate boys and girls in this new house.
Maritza was awarded with awards by the government for her service for people in need. She gets emotional and shy when talking about it because being in the spotlight is not something she aspires. “I do this to help people. I do this out of love. Money is not important to me,” a teary-eyed Maritza explains. “All I want is a better world for these kids and other people in need.”
You want to help Maritza and her orphanage? Send a message to [email protected] and we will put you in contact with her.