Project Esperanza

Project Esperanza is a non-profit organization that began as and remains a Virginia Tech student organization. Project Esperanza serves to connect the Blacksburg, Virginia community and the Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic community through service. Our programs are designed to work toward breaking the cycle of poverty present among the lower social classes in these two communities, as well toward breaking the cycle of apathy present among the upper classes.
Feb 5, 2015

We Moved!

group effort
group effort
On Jan. 24, our rental contract ended. The landlord sold the buliding so we were not able to renew the contract, and had to move out. He gave us  the first chance to purchase and although it was a great spot for the time we spent there, it is not an ideal permanent home. We had our eyes on a building down the street. 
However, this is a HUGE fundraising project. We did not have the funds raised by the time we had to move out, so we searched around for rentals. What we found were buildings of similar price to where we just left but way too small, or very nice, expensive buildings, that we could fit into, but still were too fancy for the school. 
Finally, we tried again to negotiate with the owner of the property we hope to buy. We struck a deal. He has given us one year to pay off the property. We have had to give a deposit of 300,000 pesos, which is around $6,750 US. If we pay the remainder within six months, this money goes into the total sale. If we pay the remainder in one year, half of it goes to the total sale. If we fail to pay by the end of the year, the deposit serves as rent for the year. The owner could then sell the building to someone else, raise the sale price, etc. so we are in full fundraising mode! 
The deal was to move in on the 24th and the landlord had promised that the building would be ready, as it was bing used as a carpentry shop and was therefore covered in lumber, machinery, and dust! Well, he didn't start moving out until we ran him down on the morning of the 24th! We worked hard on the 24th, 25th, and 26th (a Monday but a Dominican holiday, so no school) to at last completely clear out, clean, and paint the giant back room. We finished around 9PM on the 26th and received students the next morning. 

We have quite a few more things to do in order to make the building functional as a school. On of the most urgent needs is to put up walls to separate large open space into classrooms, an office, and a kitchen. This is a project that will definitely keep us busy! But my how the proper classroom space will increase the quality of the education.

moving equipment
moving equipment
spraying the whole place down
spraying the whole place down

Links:

Nov 11, 2014

2014-2015 Scholarships

Jon and Kerenchy
Jon and Kerenchy

We are proud to be sending more students than ever to school on Change My Stars scholarships!

First, let me just say that summer camp this summer was better than ever! We reached more kids, engaged more volunteers and local teachers, and even took a trip to the zoo in Santo Domingo after week 5 where the theme was animals. It is already apparent that next year we will have to split into two camps - one in Padre Granero where we have had it the past two years, and one in Munoz. This summer we bussed dozens of kids from Munoz to the camp in Padre Granero, and 13 kids from Los Dominguez. Check out vidoes (made by volunteer coordinator Joanne Ng) here.

Alright, for the past few years we have had 3 kids on scholarship. This year that was upped quite a lot. Here are the 2014-2015 scholarship recipients:

Eriverto in 7th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Piterly in 8th grade at the Centro de Educativo Padre Granero, hopefully soon to be moved to Perpetuo Socorro.

Miguelina in 9th grade at Santa Rosa de Lima.

Freddy studying Modern Languages at the University of OyM.

Aniverca at Escuela de Educacion Especial.

Kerenchy in 7th grade at Colegio Mundo Feliz.

Engly (Jon) in 5th grade at Colegio Mundo Feliz.

Wadner in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Naomi in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Chinaider in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Milena in 5th grade at Sueno de los Ninos.

Wow! That was a lot of back to school shopping! :)

We hope to run a winter Change My Stars camp but are short on volunteers at this point. If you are interested in volunteering with us in early January, check out this link.

Thank you always for your support!

2014 camp
2014 camp
Wadner & Naomi
Wadner & Naomi

Links:

Nov 11, 2014

Communication Breakdown

Well, the charger for the camera was apparently lost and this has kept Hellen from being able to use it. She did not lose it but was never able to receive it, unfortunately. I honestly cannot report on whether she has been able to or should have been able to purchase a new one because she has been very out of touch lately.

The last we spoke more consistently was via e-mail in July. She had let me know that she was having legal problems with the teachers holding her accountable for pay. She was not able to pay them regularly since the school did not receive enough money through donations and from parents to pay them regularly, but they were not very understanding about that apparently. Funds were sent in July and she confirmed their receipt but then has been very out of touch.

I have been so busy too so it took me months before I called her. When I called her she said what I had assumed and hoped was not the case. She has been in and out of the hospital. This seems to have been the case ever since she got in a car accident maybe two years ago. It seems that her health has been consistently poor since then. I asked her to please put me in touch with someone else working with the school and she said she would but I have not heard from her. Due to many obligations, I can't dedicate much time to this until mid December. But after that time, I will be much more diligent about calling her, finding another contact at the school who can communicate in her absence, and also reaching out to more groups in Kampala.

So I'm sorry I do not have more details.

Thank you always for supporting the school and the children!

Links:

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