In the 1990s Manfred Monnighoff, a German entrepreneur developed the Peace Villages Foundation Int., the first known Non-Profit Franchise Concept. For this Monnighoff left his successful business career in Holland behind to become a social activist. He joined grassroots NGO's around the globe and worked as a volunteer with the intention of helping to promote a "Culture of Peace". Learning to put his entrepreneurial skills to work and gaining important NGO management experience, enabled him to set up replicable and self-sustained development programs under the legal frame of Fundaciòn Aldeas de Paz, 2001 in Venezuela and later 2015 in the Dominican Republic.
The Peace Villages Foundation actually operates development and aid programs in three locations and two countries. Samana and Las Terrenas, two lovely coastal villages in the north eastern coastal province of Samana, in the Dominican Republic and since 2017 again in Santa Elena de Uairen, center of the Gran Sabana national park in the southeastern border region with Brazil, in Venezuela.
Monnighoff and the Peace Villages Foundation Int. started in 1995 a first humanitarian project in Merida, Venezuela, thanks to the collocation of his own life savings in form of a rotational credit. The work in Merida focused on children rights. Efforts were made to integrate street children and at-risk youth into a more stable environment, and at times into foster families. With the aim of creating a registered NGO in Venezuela, he succeeded in 2001 with the legal constitution of Fundacion Aldeas de Paz in Caracas, Venezuela and later in 2015 in Samana, the Dominican Republic. Aldeas de Paz has been based in Santa Elena, Venezuela since 2003 and has been operating in the Dominican Republic since 2015, focusing its resources and volunteer support on cultural exchange and social development programs.
During 2014 the social and political situation in Venezuela became increasingly difficult and programs based on volunteer participation had to be temporarily suspended until 2017 when programs started operating again! This has been decided based on the request of Venezuelan board members of Aldeas de Paz and the necessity for help with social development and aid programs in Santa Elena, Venezuela!
Organizational Chart : check our organigram
While our programs in the Dominican Republic are very successful and operations are open for volunteer participation, the Venezuelan programs in Santa Elena will be initially exclusively run by local Venezuelan staff and financed with the help of volunteer donations and the Rotational Credit System (RCS) of the Peace Villages Foundation.
Aldeas de Paz in Venezuela will be able to invite international volunteers later in 2018 when accommodations at the foundations grounds are reopened and a special access route to the location in Santa Elena near the Brazilian border is fully operational. However, we welcome interested Volunteers and Interns to contact us for more information.
Since January 2015 a second branch of Fundacion Aldeas de Paz has been inaugurated in the Dominican Republic. With great support of the local community the Dominican headquarters has successfully been established in Samana and Las Terrenas, both lovely coastal towns in the north east of the Dominican Republic. We are met with exceptional friendliness and kindness by locals and authorities! Our work in Samana and Las Terrenas is focusing on education and human rights, environmental protection and animal rescue.
Peace Villages promotes a Culture of Peace through enriching cross-cultural exchange for people of all races and nationalities and we practice voluntary community service where we provide additional opportunities in education, sports, health care and skill training. We assist our beneficiaries to develop their potential and improve their own lives.
Peace Villages offers Volunteers and Interns the great opportunity to work side by side with locals, learn new skills, study Spanish and immerse oneself in the Latin and Caribbean culture. We share the values of peace, justice and tolerance, fundamentally focusing on the preservation of cultural values and the empowerment of young people while valuing local knowledge and working with cultural sensitivity. Our Volunteer opportunities are truly the microcosm of a world where people join together giving priority to improving life for humanity and promoting a Culture of Peace as a practical way to both prevent and resolve conflict.
With our Youth Care and Community Work Program we aim to empower children and young adults by offering them additional educational opportunities and tutoring classes, as well as supporting and educating parents. With the help of local professionals we started the first ever educational and therapeutic initiative for children with special needs in Samana.
Our small Community Attention Center located in the heart of Samana hosts our special need school and offers computer literacy classes, English and German language classes. In different locations around Samana and Las Terrenas we offer environmental awareness and marine conservation programs as well as animal rescue and care programs.
Additionally we raise awareness for critical issues through our Social Media, Multimedia and Journalism Project. An awareness raising television program with the aim to help educate parents and attend adolescent issues is planned. With the help of our NGO Management and Administration Program we coordinate our efforts and keep up with the management of operations in the province. Within this program we support our staff to coordinate the various initiatives and logistical planning involved with the aim to become self-sustained in the community.
Our Medical and Dental Health Experience and Observation Programs provides interns and volunteers for the local hospital, neighborhood clinics and dental clinics to shadow and assist the nurses and doctors. While our Hospitality and Tourism Program offers interns the possibility to gain working experience with local hotels and tour-operators as well as help training local workers in the tourism industry. We are also promoting actively cultural exchange and sustainable, ecological tourism as a source of income for impoverished communities in the province. We are mainly concerned with the plight of children, youth and young adults from vulnerable communities and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Thanks to the great efforts of all the volunteers from around the world, Fundacion Aldeas de Paz is able to make a positive impact on the local community!
In 2016 Aldeas de Paz became a recognized hosting organization in the framework of the development volunteer service weltwaerts, founded in 2008 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Aldeas de Paz in the Dominican Republic in cooperation with the German Red Cross places volunteers in programs based in Samana and Las Terrenas.
Operations in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are independent from political, religious or business interests and maintain independence by completely being funded and operated through a combination of practical work and financial donations by international volunteers and a personal loan from the founder. Obviously donations alone where not guaranteeing financial stability and the continuity of the development programs and so already in the early days of Peace Villages in 1995 the Rotational Credit System (RCS) based on personal savings of the founder was introduced. Volunteer donations received by the Peace Villages Foundation are colocated independently of the volunteers placement location in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and are directly contributing to the long term sustainability of Fundacion Aldeas de Paz development and aid programs in both countries by continuously keeping the Rotational Credit System alive through realimentation.
A typical volunteer or intern needs to be enthusiastic, willing to learn, ready for a challenge, have a desire to take initiative, and dedicate a lot of caring and passion to the position. Friendliness, care, commitment, and patience are among important qualities. We welcome individual volunteers, families, and groups regardless of age, experience, or background.
You are never too old or too young to work with us here at Aldeas de Paz. We have had volunteers of all ages come to participate in activities that have been both rewarding and character building. We encourage families to come together so that they can work and grow while contributing to the community. Family volunteering has been a key experience to all of us.
We encourage volunteers & interns to form schedules which work for them. You decide how many hours you want to work and for how many days per week on which program. However, at our own school there is a minimum requirement of 22 hours during a five day week. We emphasize to focus on reliable commitment and quality versus quantity.
We encourage volunteers to have basic conversational Spanish skills. Even though previous Spanish skills are very helpful, you can as well learn by doing! We offer 6 free Spanish language lessons and vocabulary specific conversational lessons every week to help make the volunteers' time more enriching. Private classes with an amazing spanish teacher are optional!