'Invisible' Children in the Dominican Republic

Invisible. something most children do not want to feel. Jeff VanDerMolen, Kids Alive International's Vice President in Latin America, says many children in the Dominican Republic legally do not exist: "We're finding that the births of many children have never been registered. Essentially, from a legal standing within the country, they're invisible children."

Kids Alive Dominican Republic is finding that it is common for parents not to register their children when they are born. Many children are born at home, and those who are far away from the central registration location may not get registered. And this is multi-generational: parents who are not registered are not registering their children.

Without registration, children are not allowed to progress in school, jobs are difficult to find, and they cannot open a bank account or get their drivers license. "All of these things are not available to these kids because they do not have a legal standing with the government...a national identity card," explains Jeff.

Getting registered after birth is not an easy process. Jeff explains: "It takes great effort. It is something the government is trying to address, but they are not really making progress. In many cases we have to investigate where the parents are registered, where the child came from, who can attest to that child, who can make a representation to the government office that this child is in fact from this area, born to these parents, and of this family."

Having to go through this process with families has presented Kids Alive with many opportunities to care. Jeff says: "As we walk through this with a child and with a family, we become in relationship with them. We are helping to solve a pretty significant issue with them; the relationship that's developed allows us to share the love of Christ with them."

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Posted on December 14th 2012

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