back to my roots

Nelson Mandela once said:


“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world - none of us can truly rest.”


Personally, I never had a chance to see this with my eyes up until a trip that I had to my hometown which is a small city in the Dominican Republic named Hondura Campo. What started as a flashback to my childhood memories transformed into a picture that I kept on seeing - poverty, child labor and increasing rates of pregnancy in young girls.


As part of the Melo Rodriguez Foundation, I was inspired to help everyone in need and spread joy and happiness all around the world, starting from my hometown. I personally trust and believe that every person deserves a chance to move towards a better future and achieve the common goal of goodness.

The (Worsening) Economic Climate In Dominican Republic: A Link To Lost Generations

With an average wage of 3,000 to 6,000 pesos ($62-$125) per month, the cost of labor in Dominican Republic is beyond humiliating. Yet, people have everything to lose and don’t want to risk losing their jobs.


In times when the world is already shrouded in darkness, it is obvious that people in the Dominican Republic are facing great problems and difficulties in their lives. Their pain, frustration and inability to change anything has made them lose hope because of the past and present in our country.


This even motivates kids to join child labor before their school age, eventually becoming school dropouts and failing to see the benefits of personal growth. On a greater note, more than 30% of the population in my hometown is below the poverty line.


As a cherry on the cake, abortion is illegal in my hometown under any circumstances. Thanks to this law, more than 1 in 10 teenage girls is pregnant before the age of 20, which is twice the rate of world class standards and three times greater when compared to the United States average.


The poverty, lack of education, child labor and illegal abortion are some of the most important factors that contribute to the economic climate in Hondura Campo. However, it is also the start of a problem that could eventually become bigger, affecting more and more young people.

My Initiative Through The Melo Rodriguez Foundation Was To Help Young People Thrive And Motivate Them To Succeed

What I found after visiting my hometown was nothing short of shock and desperation. However, as an individual that managed to go from a situation like this and aspire towards success, my only goal is to help my brothers and sisters and be their helping hand in times when they have no one to call or turn to.


Because of this, I established the Melo Rodriguez foundation and decided to contribute to my hometown.


After all, our actions are bigger than any words said - and in this specific situation - I truly believe that my actions will make a difference and go into the future and present of this world.


As I said in the beginning, I recently came back to my hometown as part of the Melo Rodriguez foundation - to give students uniforms, notebooks, pencils, school equipment, ice cream and cake - in the first trip where I went as a foundation.


More importantly, as a student whose mother recently passed and father is out of the picture, I was motivated to donate $5,000 in the form of a scholarship to college, motivating the youngsters in my home country to succeed and win it.

The Hand Me DWN! Thrift Store Is Also Here To Make A Change


As part of the Melo Rodriguez foundation, I feel blessed to work with many individuals and organizations whose goals and vision align with ours. One of them is The Hand Me DWN! Organization which is essentially a thrift store that gives people immediate access to cool clothes and a lot of products at affordable prices.

The background of this organization, however, is a vision that makes a change in our society and helps people that are in dire need of assistance. In that way, by purchasing each of the products from this shop, you are helping people from all over the world that go through dire times.


Both the Melo Rodriguez foundation and the Hand Me DWN! Organization are committed to the idea of creating a better tomorrow for everyone in the world.

Final Words

In the end, the Melo Rodriguez foundation emerged as a family owned private charity foundation that aims to help the youth and people in need. As such, it is definitely something that young girls and boys need in order to stimulate and motivate themselves to push harder and escape this chaos.


For me, this is not only an initiative.


It is a milestone that I have been looking forward to - and possibly the turning point for many young lives in Hondura Campo who don’t want to lose everything and are motivated to follow my footsteps.


On a wider note, I am urging everyone who wants to help me with my foundation and help the people in the Dominican Republic to join us in this venture and together walk the steps towards making a joyous world possible. With this venture, we believe that we can be a stepping stone for many young individuals looking to aspire and get the education that they deserve with great scholarship programs.


After all, there is nothing more beautiful than learning, developing and making a better version of yourself. For my brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic, this may be the last chance they get to a better and brighter future.


I hope that it will bring nothing but positive mindsets, lifted spirits and for at least one moment, hope…. That nothing is lost yet.



Marilyn Melo