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.
Mar 27, 2014

Little by Little

bricks
bricks

Our fundraising efforts for the Christian Upliftment School have grown slowly but surely over the past two years. We were able to send $500 to Hellen again in February and are letting funds accumulate for another transfer. Hellen reported that the funds came just in time to do some repairs on a classroom and the fact that the inspector sees that they continue to work on it is what keeps the school opened. I let her know that it is very important that we receive receipts of payments made, even if she is buying bricks out of a truck who doesn't usually provide receipts. She said that she was adament with the man she contracted to do the roof to come and pay the payment voucher and was late in sending me an update as she was waiting for his signature. So she took the request seriously! 

She sent pictures, which are attached. We would love to have contact with a volunteer or missionary in the Kampala area who would be willing to do visits to the school and perhaps help Hellen learn to use Google Drive so she can report things like teacher attendance and student attendance. We also are looking for a donated camera to send with someone who is traveling to the area in late April and has volunteered to take the camera to her. Please e-mail GrassrootsSchools@gmail.com if you can donate a camera for this cause or if you are in the Kampala area or know someone who is and could do school visits. She currently takes pictures on her phone and reports having a really hard time getting them to me via the computer. She had to print these ones off and scan them aparently, but if she has a camera with its USB cord she can just upload them.

Hellen says that things are going well with the school in general. Their biggest needs are the remaining funds for the school repairs, more funds to properly pay teachers and purchase materials regularly, and funds for school meals.

She sends a huge thanks to everyone who is supporting the school!

roof
roof
working hard
working hard
boy studying
boy studying
learning
learning

Links:

Feb 20, 2014

Bedtimes & Businesses

Lately we have had to enforce and reinforce bedtimes. We have a rule that the older one gets, the more that is expected of him as far as discipline, setting an example, and helping out with the younger ones. One of our "older brothers" does a great job at this, while the other does not do as well. It is likely time that the one who does not do as well, moves out into adulthood, and leaves that space for someone else. That time is probably around the corner, but in the meantime, we have to stay on him about when to enter into the home for the night, when to make the younger ones enter into the home, among other things.

John, a Peace Corps worker in the community, has started a "Contruye Tus Suenos" class, (which means "Build Your Dreams") with them which meets once a week and learn about running a business and creating a business plan, etc. At the end of the course, there is a competition in the capital among others who have gone through the same course. The winners receive a small grant to start their own business.

The plot of land that we purchased for this program almost a year ago is being purchased by the Dominican government to expand the public school. We don't really have a choice in this, but have a different piece of land picked out up the road, which might actually work out better, and the government is apparently going to pay more for the land than we paid for it, which we plan to invest some of the profit in the Nintendo business. I say "apparently" because this has been going on for three months now... with the government constantly assuring that the following week the deal will take place and a check will be delivered, and nothing has yet happened. And so things go sometimes and there is really nothing we can do about it except wait. And we can't actually refuse to sell the land at this point either because all of the neighboring plots are being sold.

Last night we had a community BINGO night in our grassroots school in Munoz. A group of volunteers are here for the week so they helped put it on. At the end of the night as we were cleaning, they asked me about one young man they met during the night, letting me know that he spoke broken English and had said he was homeless. I asked our staff about him and no one had met him, which is rare, as everyone knows everyone in the community. So I spoke with him and it turns out that he is a street kid from Haiti who recently came over to the Dominican Republic, and truly is homeless. He said that he had received some schooling in Haiti, but his parents died and he ended up in the streets. I told him to come to school tomorrow afternoon at 1:30, and every afternoon. We decided the afternoon school was best for him after talking about the amount of schooling he had received previously. The volunteers got him some food. They asked if there was a shelter for him to stay at, and there is not any such thing in Puerto Plata, unless it is new and I haven't heard about it yet. However, he had found someone to let him stay in their house, at least for a few days. But I told them that we have a group home with two boys this same age in it, but we couldn't take him in right now. One, there is no space, and two, I don't know if he fights or steals or what so we wouldn't enter someone into the home upon an initial meeting. But we could watch him over time and see. He said his name is Lauren.

Thank you so much for your support! Little by little, we do what we can. And we couldn't do it without your support.

Links:

Feb 10, 2014

Maranatha School Begins a New Chapter

Maranatha School began the 2014 semester with some new energy.  With a passionate new Director (who is from Ouanaminthe, Haïti, but had been teaching in the Dominican Republic) in place to manage funds raised and better support the teachers, there have been several parent meetings and teacher meetings in January to reorganize and plan for the future.  We were also able to purchase 20 locally made chairs (we thought that this would help the community more than purchasing the fairly common plastic chairs for sale) for the smallest students, as they had been brining their chairs from home every day!  The Director reports that they were all excited about the new furniture and that everyone was studying hard!  We were also able to purchase a few supplies, like chalk, to get the year off on the right foot.  We have been discussing the importance of uniforms with the parents as well. Haitians are used to school children wearing unifroms to school and most see this as a priority for their school and students. In February and March, though, we hope to focus on providing some textbooks for the school along with some more chairs and desks for the older students.

The pictures of the chairs and kids attached here a fuzzy, because they have been taken with a cell phone. Hopefully, we will find a used camera soon to improve the quality of our reports. 

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