Doreen & Sebert

A Brief History of COPA

In 1991 Doreen and Sebert Lane, who were retired, paid a short visit to the Province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic.

Barahona is in the S.W. of the Republic and far from the tourist areas, which are found mainly about 200 miles away in the North of the island.

No benefits of tourism had trickled down to this part of the island.Street scene

The Community seemed without hope.

The Lanes were immediately struck by the extreme poverty of the area, but as retired teachers they were particularly horrified to find that the large majority of village children were not able to attend school owing to a lack of school buildings and to the fact the parents did not appear to have the resources necessary to buy clothes - much less books.

StreetkidsIn La Hoya there was just one old dilapidated classroom with 40 children attending and it seemed that there were hundreds more who did not attend. The school contained only a few old desks and there was no other equipment whatsoever. They found just one book! A teacher told them he had to buy his own chalk. The school had no electricity supply, the corrugated iron roof leaked badly and looked unsafe. The school had no water supply or sanitation.

The Lanes returned to Gloucester and told their friends and Church (Lonsdale Road, Methodist) about their experiences and that they felt compelled to return to La Hoya to work with the community to build a proper school. They also visited North United Methodist Church in Florida where, as frequent visitors, they were Associate Members, and enrolled their support too.

As a result, COPA was founded in England and in Florida to support their work and within a few months the Lanes were back in the Dominican Republic working voluntarily with the community to establish the first COPA school.

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