Pablo, overcoming adversity to save the planet

Pablo Zapata, one of the outstanding leaders of USAID’s At-Risk Youth project.

By: Entrena and USAID/DR

Pablo Zapata, is a young man from Villa Penca de Bajos de Haina, San Cristobal. He has faced a very difficult life, marked by violence within his family. He became a father at an early age, having to overcome the difficulties of providing for his baby, and putting his dreams aside, to face this new challenge responsibly. 

Following a friend’s invitation, he learned about USAID’s Alerta Joven project, and discovered his love of helping and empowering vulnerable youth by getting involved in all the activities taking place in his community through this initiative. Pablo decided to join the Haina Alert Network, of which he is currently president and contributes voluntarily to the development of his hometown Haina.

He combined his commitment to the environment with his entrepreneurial talent and created his micro-enterprise: “Creativo RD”, where he designs accessories using recycled materials. Pablo looks to raise awareness in Dominican society about recycling and the abuse of the environment on a daily basis through lectures, garbage collection days and through his social media. 

About USAID’s At-Risk Youth Project

USAID’s At-Risk Youth Project has been in place since 2012. Its goal is to help create opportunities for youth between the ages of 11 and 24 in low-income communities affected by crime and violence. It helps create opportunities for youth in these communities to pave the way for a better future and break the cycle of crime and violence that affects all sectors of the Dominican Republic. 

The project encompasses several approaches, including:

  • School reinsertion and retention 
  • Vocational technical training 
  • Job placement
  • Teen pregnancy prevention
  • Health
  • Referral for identification documents
  • Positive masculinity

With a US$25 million investment, the project has proven the solidarity of the American people by impacting the lives of more than 145,000 young lives in more than 500 neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic. 

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