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Dominican Republic: Leaders talk about helping youth, children

Leaders talk about helping youth, children

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

In a meeting with Sister Carol F. McConkie and Sister Jean A. Stevens, counselors in the Young Women and Primary general presidencies, the attorney general’s office of the Dominican Republic expressed an interest in working with the Church to promote the development of children and adolescents. Their goal is to keep young people away from drugs, violence and other situations of risk.

The meeting was hosted by Judge Marisol Tobal, Attorney General and Deputy National Coordinator of Children, Youth and Family, who visited with the sisters as well as Elder Claudio D. Zivic of the Caribbean Area presidency and his wife, Dina N. Zivic.

“Child abuse and neglect by parents, domestic violence, lack of formal and informal education, physical and emotional abuse, lack of sexual training, immoral music and other trends are causal factors and triggers that threaten children and adolescents, thus destroying the family structure,” reflected Judge Tobal. “An important part of the solution lies in prevention, not just in correction, so we sponsor recreation centers for youth and children who are at risk, including those who roam the streets every day,” said the judge, who also highlighted the ever-present challenge of lack of resources.

Carol McConkie and Jean Stevens visit with Caribbean in November.
Carol McConkie and Jean Stevens visit with Caribbean in November.

Sister Stevens described some of the strategies and programs that the Church has to promote the healthy development of children and adolescents and in turn the family and the Church. “We believe that every child is God’s creation, and so are His children. We teach them from an early age to sing a song called “I Am a Child of God,” which, along with other teachings, helps them to understand their identity and purpose as human beings.” She discussed the “Faith in God” program for Primary-age children.

Sister McConkie presented Church programs for the youth, including the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Besides providing important instruction for adolescents, she noted that these rules are useful for both youth and adults.

At the culmination of the meeting, Elder Zivic expressed the Church’s willingness “to engage our efforts and resources to support the national authorities in their task of promoting the development of children and youth in the Dominican Republic.”

The meeting concluded with the presentation of a painting of Jesus with the little children with an inscription from Matthew 18:5, “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”

In addition, Sister McConkie and Sister Stevens were hosted at the National Congress (House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic) and honored as special visitors. They were specially invited to the National Assembly Hall. The representative (congressman) present solicited 190 copies of the Proclamation of the Family to be included in the agenda of the 190 legislators to take part in the next session of the House.

Sister McConkie and Sister Stevens began their visit in the Caribbean Area on Monday, Nov. 18, with a visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico, then on to Santo Domingo and Santiago in the Dominican Republic, and concluding in Port au Prince, Haiti, after several meetings with leaders of organizations of children and youth in countless communities and visits to some homes.