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.
Jul 15, 2014

Great Summer Camp Coming Soon!

Our four scholarship students are finishing up this school year strong. Miguelina Joseph passed the Pruebas Nacionales, which are a national exam after 8th grade, and will be moving on to high school in August! 

This summer will be the best summer camp so far! It is our fourth year running the camp, and we have more resources than ever, and done more planning ahead. Thanks to Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, we are providing breakfast every morning for campers. We have some movie nights planned throughout the summer, and a parents' day with presentations on the last day of camp. We are also planning a trip to the zoo after the 5th week of camp where students learn about animals! We have several campers bussed in from various communities and still need support for that so if you can chip in at this time, that is what the funds will go toward. To sponsor a camper to go to the zoo, donations of $15 are sought. Sponsors will receive a picture of their camper at the zoo, along with a thank you note!

Here is a video of week 1 of camp. 

Thank you always for your support!

Links:

May 28, 2014

A New Boy

Louran
Louran

In February, a new boy showed up at BINGO night at our school in Munoz. He spoke bits and pieces of English and let us know that he is 14 years old, born in July 1999, has no parents and he had just come to the Dominican Republic from Haiti. We got him started in school and after observing him for a few weeks, told him that once this school year ends, he can have a spot in our group home for boys from the streets. So at the end of June he will move in. In the meantime, we pay a family in Munoz to include him in on their meals. Here is his story as he told me:

 

He says that his mother gave him to his father to raise him but his father passed away. His mother lives with “a man she likes” and he thinks she may have moved to France because he thinks the man has family in France. He saw her perhaps five years ago. She lived in Mibalet which is the Central Plateau region of Haiti. He knows that his birth certificate is stored with a woman he knows there. He has a twin brother who was apparently adopted at some point. After his father passed away, he lived in Gonaives with his stepmother.

 

In September 2008 there was a flood that was fatal to many in Gonaives. I assume this is the flood that he is referring to. He said that he was playing marbles with some other kids and the water came rapidly. He ran up a mountain and stayed there for three days with others, but his stepmother and the other kids he was playing marbles with died. He then became a street kid in the area without any real home or family.


Then not long ago he won a singing contest. He won 1,500 goud, which have basically the same exchange as pesos, two beach chairs, some chicken seasoning, and some t-shirts. He gave away the seasoning and t-shirts, and sold the beach chairs. So now he had more money. A group of men confronted him and convinced him to go to the Dominican Republic with them. They confronted him because they wanted in on his money.They came as a group of seven. Four or five were sent back to Haiti by guards and after walking for days, Louran ended up in prison somewhere not far
from Santiago. While in prison, they made him clean the floor with brillo pads and bleach until the cracks between the tiles were white. They also made him sickle the grass. He somehow ran away and continued on his way until he
came to Santiago.

 

Someone let him stay with him for a few days but suggested that he go to Puerto Plata where he could find more opportunity for school. He took a bus to Puerto Plata and arrived at night. He met a man picking up trash in the night and asked him if he could stay with him. He said he would work for the man for his stay. The man said that he can’t do the same work as him, but he would let him stay, and there were schools in his area as well. Darius has been letting him stay with him ever since. He has had perfect attendance at school so far. He reports passing days without food but is very thankful for the money and food items volunteers him.

 

We have constant needs for the group home. We currently have 9 young men we are helping, and the amount of help they receive depends on their age, as we lessen the help as they get older. You may remember that we have a plot of land but have not yet build. Our biggest needs right now are a new door on the home as the current one is broken, and lockers.

 

June 25th is matching day beginning at noon EST. All donations up to $1,000 are matched at 100%. Please help us to make the most of it! Thank you!

Links:

May 12, 2014

Still hopeful

David, at work in the DR
David, at work in the DR

While we have not been able to raise enough money to fully support this school's needs, we were able to send enough funds in February to give all of the teachers and staff a small stipend and a bit of hope and encourage them in their important work.  Recently, another group that works in Puerto Plata, DR contacted us inquiring if they could send school supplies this summer.  This greatly encourages us as before we started sending minimal aid, the school had nobody to help at all and now another group has also seen the need.  The more people who know about the school and who can talk about it, the better.  We are hoping that more funds will come in to Project Esperanza on the June 25th matching day as we are trying to raise money ahead of time in order to send our Director, David, back to oversee and report back regularly with photos during the 2014-2015 school year.  The goal is to raise enough to cover his salary so that he can remain in Haiti, and also support the school's basic needs.  We are planning to visit the school in July to talk more with the teachers and get photos of the students.  We are also thinking about starting a student sponsorship program for the school at the same time.  If anyone wants to donate school supplies, they could be delivered during the July visit.  Contact us at Project Esperanza for more details about how to send items.

Mesi anpil for your support!

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