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.
Sep 19, 2013

Great Summer, Now Back to School!

We have been blessed with a new building! All summer we searched for a new school building as we knew that the one we were in last year was a little expensive for the amount of space it provided. It also was in an area of the community where the water pressure is so low that it doesn't even rise from ground level up into the taps. We found an apartment for a bit less rent money and a bit more space with better access to water, but the downside was that it had no yard area, whereas the one from last year had at least a little. Plus, it was not a house, but an apartment connected to other apartments and on the second floor. Nonetheless, we were going to go for it. 

As time neared to pay the deposit and move, Willy, our first grade teacher, told me of a great house he found in a neighboring community that is a little.. actually quite a bit wealthier, which means better access to water, electricity, cleanliness, and peace in general, not to down talk the barrio by any means. One day during summer camp we left the group to go check it out. While on the way, we passed a yard and building with a playground that used to be a restaurant. I had noticed it before. It had a large "For Rent" sign and a phone number. I pointed it out to Willy. We immediately stared at it and commented at how perfect it would be for the school. I quickly called the number and spoke to the landlord who told us the rent - about $40 more per month than our current building. 

The landlord's wife was next door and would come to open it. Once I got off the phone, we celebrated and expressed our disbelief that a building with a yard so big and beautiful with a playground could cost just $40 more than the building we were previously in. Willy, who had just been talking about the persecution he was facing and health problems he continued to experience, which he believed to be a result of his involvement with the school and effort to advance it despite of jealousy and competition among other community members, something that has unfortunately come up a bit among our teachers and I believe falls under the category of spiritual warfare, said, "I think.... I think it's God that is giving us this building." I (Caitlin) agreed. He didn't mean literally giving it to us to own, but led us to it to use for the school.

 

After checking out the building, we saw that it didn't have enough space inside to house all of the classrooms, but it had adequate porch space in the front, side, and back, and with the Caribbean climate, this is perfectly fine. I ran back to camp and after it ended and local campers were dismissed, led volunteers, teachers, and the campers who travel to camp with us to check it out. Everyone was pleased with it. The landlord said that someone else was looking at it and deciding about it. After missing out on great houses in such situations before, I shared this with the volunteers and let them know that the deposit money was not yet available from organization funds. Three volunteers generously fronted the money so that we could move in that weekend! So English camp had a new home for the last week! 

We quickly discovered that a big lesson kids would have to learn was playground etiquette. It was heart warming yet also heart breaking to watch teenagers pile up on see saws, swings, and a slide, as though they had never been on a playground in their lives, and maybe some of them had not been. So we did demonstrations of waiting in a line behind the slide, having just one camper on a swing at a time, and taking turns. The first day before we sat them down and talked about this, we were lucky that the most serious injury was a busted lip!

One last announcement is that we have a new morning director and new afternoon director. Wanbert, school co-founder and director since 2010 has stepped down as director and will be working as a teacher in the

morning and afternoon. Pastor Milien has proposed a man named Vladimir Romulus as morning director and one of our teachers Met Prosper will be serving as afternoon director. Spreading out the responsibility in this way will undoubtedly cause the staff to work more in a team fashion and will make the overall effort more productive. We had a meeting this morning that ended up lasting 3 hours! After spending the summer with volunteers, teachers have learned a lot about the life of a volunteer and therefore a little more about the base of the organization. We hope to bring in more volunteers this year to use their skills to support our teachers and staff.
 
 Don't forget - we are starting a new school year and need sponsors for each of our students. We have had around 100 register so far and have 11 sponsored for this school year. School started September 9th so we need more sponsors! It's $100 for the year. E-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope.org for more info. 

Also, Global Giving will have a Matching Day on October 23rd where all funds will be matched at 30%. Bonus prizes will be giving to groups bringing in the most unique donors and the most funds. Let's brainstorm about how we can win one of these prizes and make the most of this opportunity!


Thank you for your support!

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Sep 2, 2013

A Great Summer

snacks
snacks

Supesta has had a great summer! Although we have not received a ton of support through Global Giving, another donor sent in funds to cover our summer expenses, which include paying the coach, transportation two and from practice and games three days a week, snacks, water, and equipment. We have had 40 boys consistently practicing with us between the ages of 7 and 18. Four young men in their early twenties who have been members of the team throughout the years help the coach in running drills and exercises, as well as acting as referee during scrimmages. We divide them up into two groups as we obviously have a large age range. Some fights have broken out at practices, but all in all, this summer has been a great time of boys becoming friends and growing as a team. We have a talk at the end of each practice, which is one of the most important parts. We give life advice and often hand out a Bible verse to discuss for the day. We have given prizes to those who remember the verses, for those who have the best attendance at soccer practice, and for those who have the best discipline.

School starts on September 9th and this will cause us to only be able to have soccer practice, at most, once a week. Some kids go to school in the mornings, some in the afternoons, and others at night, so this makes it impossible for us to practice during the week. We haven't made solid plans for the school year yet but do hope to keep meeting once a week to keep the team together, and then pick things back up next summer.

Thank you for your support. Without it, we would not be able to do much soccer-wise with this awesome group.

at practice
at practice
scrimmage
scrimmage
the team!
the team!
Aug 5, 2013

Volunteers in the Community

solar oven
solar oven

We have been having a wonderful summer with volunteers staying in Muñoz, right by the batey we serve! They have traveled to another community where we have a school in the mornings to do an English immersion camp, but have stayed in the area in the afternoons and been doing "eco-construction" projects. These are all low cost projects we hope to introduce to the community. We have our school garden full of the super plant moringa, a human compost toilet, a food compost, solar oven, rocket stoves, solar lights, and volunteers also experimented some with home made water filters. We hope to build on all of this in the future.

We now are searching out a new house in the area for volunteer housing and the area that was used for volunteer housing this past year will be used for the school. We have lots to work on before school opens on September 9th. We had one day of medical check ups for students and family members. Project Helping Hands medical team came for the day and did general consultations. After people got their check ups, we led them to a handwashing station in the school yard, and also gave explanations about the other projects we were working on. Volunteers were also available to register students for the new school year.

We are looking forward to the new school year! If you would like to sponsor a student, the fee is $100 annually and you will receive your student's profile. Thanks for your support!

food compost
food compost
eco-construction group - solar lights
eco-construction group - solar lights

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