Things are going well with the United Brothers School of Muñoz. The school is separated into morning and afternoon. We now have done a little bit of reorganization so that there are separate directors in the morning and afternoon. Each director also teaches a class and works along with two teachers so three classes are held in the morning and three in the afternoon. Discipline is a bit of a problem and the directors and teachers are trying out a detention system. They haven't had a very consistent method of discipline where all teachers participate in the same method but we just decided to do that after a recent meeting so I think the consistency will help as long as the punishment of detention is carried out well.
There is also a class for adults who are learning to read in the evening. We have the option of adding a sewing class also in the evening but I think we will wait to do that because I don't want the directors to have too much responsibility in overseeing everything. We'll possibly add that in the fall but we're trying to do things little by little to avoid mistakes that come from taking on too much.
The Virginia Tech student organization just came and volunteered for a week. It was a very productive trip! We began forming a women's group, meeting with women in the community of Muñoz. We conducted interviews in order to gain insight into their lives. We asked about their families, children, child raising practicies, time in the Dominican Republic, and work situations. Students taught the women how to make bracelets out of embroidery string. Some women really caught on. We bought the bracelets that were without mistakes at 50 pesos each and the students will sell them in Blacksburg, Virginia. This gave the women instant gratification for their work but also the skill to continue while the student organization is not present as well. After suggesting it, the woman also began collecting church seeds, stringing them, and making beautiful necklaces, which we bought many of as well.
Another large focus of the trip was to set up an internet center in the community of Muñoz where there isn't one yet. The center will serve as a small business to support Project Esperanza's efforts in the Muñoz community - primarily the United Brothers School of Muñoz. It will also be an education center for tourists who pass through the Muñoz community often fairly ignorantly on tourist excursions such as horseback riding, horse drawn carriage, go-carting, or four wheeling. They will be able to learn about Project Esperanza's developmental work in the community and use the internet or purchase art, food, and other items made by community members, giving them a pathway to directly support the community they are visiting. Volunteers painted the building and paid a local artist to paint a beautiful mural of a sugarcane scene on one of the walls. A local man built iron doors and another local man is still in the process of building the computer tables and cubicles. After that, internet will be installed, computers will be purchased and installed, and things will get up and running. I will oversee things closely at first but there are a few local Haitians who have been involved in Project Esperanza for quite some time that have strong language skills in English and Spanish as well as their own language Creole, as well as computer knowledge, and are in need of a job. So they will eventually take over and this will be a great job for them as well as a fundraiser for the school!
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