The Batey Foundation is a non-profit, secular, non-political entity that’s mission is to raise the living standards of the present generation of children and their families living in the Bateys of the Dominican Republic, who are severely affected by poverty, disease, and hunger, while promoting sustainable development for future generations.
The Batey Foundation was born out of the a fundamental commitment to change the oppressive reality, extreme poverty, daily human rights abuses and social injustices that are ever-present on the bateys of the Dominican Republic. The founders of The Batey Foundation came to have a fundamental belief in the power of this commitment along different paths, yet ones that innately share similar experiences, observations of the human condition, and tests of one’s value system.
Matthew began studying, working, and living in Latin America in 1996. He first saw poverty with his own eyes in early experiences in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, and was shocked, saddened, and overwhelmed by what he witnessed. Over the next few years he spent many months traveling throughout South America, living in rural Andean indigenous communities, with homeless shoe shine boys, in urban slums, and hitchhiking with students, social workers, and activists, attempting to learn and digest as much as he could about the realities of poverty. Throughout this journey he came to have a better understanding of the human rights abuses and the oppression that occur inherently with these types of poverty, as well as the complexities of development and relief work and the difficulties in changing this reality. He made a decision to commit to the fight against these human rights abuses and social injustices and began doing development, relief, and advocacy work throughout Latin America. Matthew has worked with the Pehuenche people in southern Chile in an attempt to save their ancestral lands, with Visions International in The Dominican Republic, Peru, and The British Virgin Islands bringing American students to do valuable service work in these countries, as a Human Rights Observer in a Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico, and with ProWorld doing development work in rural mountain villages in and around the Sacred Valley of Peru. Recently, his work has focused predominantly around exposing high school, college, and graduate students to the abismal conditions, harsh realities, and severe abuses of human rights that occur on the bateys of the Domincan Republic, in the hopes that a passion within them will be ignited as well.
Josh has always been fascinated by the human condition. As a Philosophy major during his undergraduate years, he focused his studies on the enlightenment thinkers and changing ideas of equality, political independence, and personal freedom. Over the years Josh's interested evolved into how existing economic, political and social structures affect the human condition, specifically in the world's poorest regions. In 2007 he graduated from graduate school having studied global development, specifically in Latin America. Since then, Josh has worked with high school and college students, teaching courses specifically focused around Latin America development, as well as leading service trips to work in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. His experience in these communities has affirmed his commitment to sustainable development in the world's poorest regions and the need for a better understanding of the issues by all of us who were lucky to be born in more developed countries.
Jan is a soon to be graduate from the University of New Hampshire's Outdoor Education Program. Jan first became involved in Latin America during high school service trips to Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Since his travels abroad in high school he has continued exploring both nationally and internationally, most recently completing a trip to Peru, Chile and Argentina. Jan started working with the Batey Foundation as a project his senior year through the University of New Hampshire. From this project he has helped to develop the marketing materials for the Batey Foundation. His desire to help support the mission of the Batey Foundation and the development of Dominican batey's drives him to help promote the Foundation.
Héctor obtained his undergraduate degree in social work from Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA and is currently a second year graduate student at Boston University’s School of Social Work. He has over ten years experience in the mental/behavioral health field. Héctor began his work with The Batey Foundation after taking an international social work course with Matthew Toms, where his commitment to support those living in the bateyes was cemented. Hector’s passion for the promotion of human rights began at an early age but it became more prominent after his travels through South America and through India. His passion for working with people living in the bateyes of Santo Domingo was also driven by his childhood in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Growing up in such close proximity to the Dominican Republic but having such a different experience in access to resources was humbling and was one of the main driving forces behind his dedication to the people living in the bateyes of the Dominican Republic. In addition to running the The Batey Foundation’s Scholarship Program, Héctor recently began a program that brings former students back to the bateyes around Santo Domingo so they can continue expand upon the work they began in the bateyes. Héctor was recently asked to be a guest presenter at the annual Global Student Social Work Student Conference hosted by Fordham University and the United Nations and at the annual Bachelor’s of Social Work conference.