Transforming Futures in the Dominican Republic

Samaritan’s Feet has partnered with Daniel Oscar, president of Enfocado en la Gran Comision, a ministry in the Dominican Republic that engages an average of 6,000 local churches each year, to provide thousands of pairs of shoes across the Caribbean country. In August of 2023, Daniel’s team received their second container of 17,500 pairs of shoes. Samaritan’s Feet sat down with Oscar to talk through what this means to him, his ministry, and his country.

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Samaritan’s Feet (SF): Tell me a little bit about the needs within the Dominican Republic.

Daniel Oscar (DO): Despite the growth of the Dominican Republic in terms of tourism, politics, and several lines of the economy, between 30% and 35% of the population lives in poverty, a situation that affects over 3.8 million people. These people are facing basic needs like foods, shoes, clothing, homes, and medicine. Lack of shoes exposes people to health issues, mobilization problems, and can affect their wellbeing and holistic growth, which means, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. The shoes from Samaritan’s Feet help meet the needs of many people in poverty and at the same time empower the local believers to share their faith with joy and boldness.

SF: Share a little bit about how your organization determined how and where to distribute these shoes.

DO: The shoes from this latest container were mainly placed among vulnerable communities affected by a flood that caused disasters in the Dominican Republic in November 2023. And, among vulnerable communities during our Christmas season outreaches titled “The Marvel of Christmas: God is with us” from December 11, 2023, to January 30, 2024. Overall, the two containers of shoes have been placed in around 45 municipalities of the 32 provinces of the Dominican Republic.

SF: Generally, what can the impact be of distributing shoes to local groups in need in your country?

DO: I can say that shoe distributions, in the context of church missions, are greatly helping in the socio-spiritual transformation of the people in the Dominican Republic.

SF: It sounds like you’ve had many opportunities for impact as you distribute these shoes across the country. Can you share a few stories that were especially meaningful for you?

DO: Allow me to tell four special stories here.


Cristo Rey Zero Violence
Over 30 churches collaborated in an extraordinary way in Cristo Rey, once the most violent area in Santo Domingo around Christmas, and for the first time in decades, there were no reports of crime in that area during the holiday season. Pastors worked with the neighborhood association, distributing shoes, evangelizing, providing food and aid. One family of six, identified during the efforts, all received shoes and a new house, courtesy of the pastors’ efforts. More than just footwear, the initiative is helping people with their addictions and violence.


Peace Within Gangs

On December 30, two enemy gangs in the Los Guandules area gathered for a Christmas celebration, receiving shoes and food. Most of these young individuals have parents in prison because they committed a notorious massacre in 2017, meaning they do not have parents to meeting their basic needs like shoes, food, and school supplies. At this event, these young individuals expressed a desire for a different future. Participating churches organized discipleship groups, aiming to nurture and mentor these young individuals.


Reuniting with Family

Rosa Medrano, a former wrestler in Cristo Rey, rescued a drug addict with a pair of shoes. Her Go Christmas outreaches included a street concert and distributing SF shoes to the homeless on December 24 and 25. A homeless man, later discovered to be a Christian leader fallen into drugs, prayed for the evangelistic team after their visit. Discovering he was the brother of a pastor in San Pedro de Macoris, the team cared for his pneumonia and reconnected and reunited him with his family.


Shifted Focuses

Pastora Yesenia Then, the main pastor of Centro Cristiano Soplo de Vida, a mega local church, shifted gears during a planned evangelistic tour in Santo Domingo. Originally expecting thousands at a closing event, she redirected funds and mobilized over a thousand believers for flood-affected neighborhoods. The crusade was canceled, and the church focused on personal evangelism, distributing 500 shoes from Samaritan’s Feet, and meeting immediate needs with purchased supplies. This unprecedented move prioritized aiding flood victims over a large-scale event.

Samaritan’s Feet is so grateful for our partners like Daniel who help give hope through the gift of shoes. Take a look at some photos below of our work together.