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.
Dec 16, 2013

Looking Ahead & Evolving

registering students
registering students

Hello! A very special thanks to those of you who supported us in the recent YouthSpark matching day!

We will probably edit this project to increase the desired budget so it can continue, because you can see that we have almost reached our goal, but that goal was set four years ago, and it was meant to cover the school's expenses for about two years.

I want to share that the public school in the community of Munoz is rapidly completing a large addition so that rather than functioning 8am to 12pm, they will now function 8am to 4pm, quite an extension! As it is, they have some students attend in the mornings, and some in the afternoon. Now all students will attend all day long. This will greatly affect our school, as some of our students, those whose parents are for one, more responsible and proactive and two, have spent more time in the country and community, go to the public school for half a day where they are educated in Spanish, and go to our school for half a day where they are educated in French/Haitian Creole. This change is set to take place at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, in August. So we have to determine if we will continue with the school pre-K through 6th as we are now, and we will have a significant drop in students, or will do perhaps a Montessauri pre-school for those too young to attend the public school, and vocational training for teenagers and young adults in evenings or on weekends. These are some different options. My vote is that we continue the school as it is, but to make it feasible, we will need to be sure that we will maintain the same amount of students we currently have.

Surely once this change takes place, there will still be a percentage of students wandering the streets, not in any school. Munoz has three bateyes, or communities that are often also referred to as slums or refugee camps. Each batey has a school with Haitian teachers, focusing on educating the Haitian children, as ours does. There was a fourth school created as well a few years back during an unfortunate church split. The lack of unity among these schools is ridiculous, inefficient, and creates lots of small town politics. It is our desire that we collaborate with these other schools to form one school, because with the opening of the new full day public school, none of these schools will be able to efficiently operate, as all will be lacking students. We have talked to one so far which is in agreement. But the details will be complicated. Each school either operates in an owned church building or in a rented building. It is necessary that a collaborative effort be made and that a plot of land is purchased, and a building constructed to form one Haitian school. This is an ideal plan, and we have not had enough fundraising success up until this point to do that, but it is what seems to make the most sense. Surrounding the bateyes, the government owns all of the land, and it is for sale through the Central Bank. I have called to find out a price but learned that to do that would requiring visiting the capital and arranging for a representative to visit the area. I have to make a trip to the capital soon, so I plan on fitting that in on the trip. Recently the government bulldozed all of this land, knocking down mostly toilets, trees, and gardens, just to show batey residents that it was the government's land, and not theirs. Many people were upset by this.

Thank you for your continued support. Please stay with us as we work toward the goal of forming one, efficent Haitian school to serve the three batey communities, and to get it accredited by the government, creating a model curriculum for these specific students.

registering students2
registering students2


Oct 7, 2013

Still Going Strong!


I am sorry that it has been so long since you have received an update on the Christian Upliftment School in Kampala, Uganda. We recently were able to send Hellen $568.75 from funds accumulated throughout the summer. We have another $112.88 to be sent. This is still a long way off from the over $1,000 US a month the school needs to function properly, but it is a great start, and they are still going, despite what they lack!  

School & Personal Update from Hellen
I have not updated because I have been waiting on an update from Hellen. It turns out that she has been in the hospital again, still suffering effects from the car accident she was in months back. She said that she also had a case of malaria. She believes she will be out and back home on Monday and can send me a breakdown of expenses and pictures at that time. I know that the funds sent are so much less than the school needs, but it sure is great that we are still able to help out in some way. 

I recently spoke with Hellen on the phone as it was difficult for her to write much via e-mail. I asked her if the school is still functioning fine without her presence and she said yes, of course. There are seven teachers working, basically voluntarily, teaching 260 students! They ask for a small fee from parents but many cannot pay and others pay inconsistently, so this is all the teachers have to live off of. I asked if teacher pay is the school´s biggest need. She said no, and reminded me of the inspections going on this year that will determine whether or not the school is allowed to continue functioning in the building they are in. Their most urgent need is to make some building repairs. Then another big pressing need is consistent payment for teachers, as well as school meals, and materials to work with. 

I also spoke to Hellen a little to learn more about her personally. You probably know that Hellen's husband who founded the school passed away in 2006, but you may or may not know that she has 3 children, all in their teenage years, who she is also putting through school. Two boys and a girl. If you are waiting for a picture of your sponsored student, we hope this will move along a little quicker when Hellen is out of the hospital, although I am not sure how much access she currently has to a camera either, although she mentioned having some pictures to send. But bear with us! 

New Giving Opportunity - Global Giving Matching Day!

More than half of the funds we have raised recently has been through Global Giving. Global Giving has a matching day coming up for projects in Africa on Wednesday, October 9th. Start time: 7:00 am Nairobi, 5:00 am London. Let's see, this means that it's 12am EST, correct? There are $25,000 in matching funds and they tend to go fast, so try to get your donation in early. Donations are matched at 30% and there are two $1,000 prizes - one for the project that raises the most funds this day and one for the project that brings in the most unique donors this day. So spread the word and give CUSchool a chance at winning one of these extra prizes!
Social Media for CUSchool

Does anyone want to create a Facebook page for CUSchool to post updates and pictures and maybe gain more support and interest? I think it would be a great idea!

Let's stick together and continue to grow on what we have going to allow this school, and everyone involved in it, to thrive! 


Sep 24, 2013

Moving Along, New School Year

back to school
back to school

We are so thankful to all of you who gave during the GiveforYouth challenge in July, helping us to win a permanent spot on the new site! You truly proved that if everyone pitches in a little, we can reach BIG goals! It is community support such as this that we need to be able to run this program in the way envisioned. It takes a village to raise a child. Raising boys from the streets is anything but easy. But we continue to see their potential and to celebrate the small steps that they take, that will lead them to be productive and conscientious members of society in their adulthood.

We currently have 8 young men in the program ranging from ages 14 to 22. Two are in a transition phase where they live outside of the home, but nearby, and receive a stipend for a little food and rent aid. Their grade levels range from 3rd to 7th. A new school year just started and we are still working on getting back on track, arriving on time and prepared, doing homework, respecting teachers, etc. Summer vacation was probably the best summer we've had so far. Three boys attended English camp throughout the summer, all young men participated in our soccer team, and at the end of the summer, a visiting volunteer helped prepare the group for school with daily focus groups where they discussed things like their personal histories, self esteem, positivity, mental health, and working together.

The members of the program who are older than 18 were leaders in our soccer program throughout the summer, while those under age 18 were participants. This team functions for the boys in the program and for boys in a school we run in a nearby, marginalized community. We have a rule in the program that shows understanding when one is of adult age, yet not yet ready to transition fully to independent life, as opportunities for work are still extremely sparce, but requires that those who are older take responsibility over those who are younger. However, some do this better than others. In years past, members of this older group were players on the team. This summer, they really had to reflect on the fact that they are no longer children, and they need to think of the development of the youth they are responsible over in every aspect. Things that happened at soccer practice would lead into larger discussions on setting good examples, realizing that they are examples, selflessness, maturity, etc. Almost every bus ride home from practice was a volatile discussion, but by the end of the season, they led the team together like a well-oiled machine, and with pride.

We have been asked by the child services agency in the Dominican government to bring in a 13 year old boy from the streets that they recommend. We are working on preparing the current housing with iron bars on the windows and secure lockers before doing this. We didn't realize that the wooden windows were a security hazard, but both were broken out on two separate occasions within the past few months, and someone entered and stole during the day, often while the household members were at soccer practice. So we must invest in iron bars. As far as lockers, the wooden lockers constructed by a volunteer in 2007 have long worn out. It is time that we invest in some durable metal lockers. 

Today is GiveforYouth's one year anniversary. They are matching all donations at 100%, as long as their matching funds hold out. If you want to double your gift, today is a great day to do it!

Thank you so much for your support. We hope that you continue this journey with us.

soccer team
soccer team


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