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.
Nov 11, 2014

2014-2015 Scholarships

Jon and Kerenchy
Jon and Kerenchy

We are proud to be sending more students than ever to school on Change My Stars scholarships!

First, let me just say that summer camp this summer was better than ever! We reached more kids, engaged more volunteers and local teachers, and even took a trip to the zoo in Santo Domingo after week 5 where the theme was animals. It is already apparent that next year we will have to split into two camps - one in Padre Granero where we have had it the past two years, and one in Munoz. This summer we bussed dozens of kids from Munoz to the camp in Padre Granero, and 13 kids from Los Dominguez. Check out vidoes (made by volunteer coordinator Joanne Ng) here.

Alright, for the past few years we have had 3 kids on scholarship. This year that was upped quite a lot. Here are the 2014-2015 scholarship recipients:

Eriverto in 7th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Piterly in 8th grade at the Centro de Educativo Padre Granero, hopefully soon to be moved to Perpetuo Socorro.

Miguelina in 9th grade at Santa Rosa de Lima.

Freddy studying Modern Languages at the University of OyM.

Aniverca at Escuela de Educacion Especial.

Kerenchy in 7th grade at Colegio Mundo Feliz.

Engly (Jon) in 5th grade at Colegio Mundo Feliz.

Wadner in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Naomi in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Chinaider in 9th grade at Perpetuo Socorro.

Milena in 5th grade at Sueno de los Ninos.

Wow! That was a lot of back to school shopping! :)

We hope to run a winter Change My Stars camp but are short on volunteers at this point. If you are interested in volunteering with us in early January, check out this link.

Thank you always for your support!

2014 camp
2014 camp
Wadner & Naomi
Wadner & Naomi

Links:

Nov 11, 2014

New Partnerships

Breakfast program
Breakfast program

We have some very exciting new partnerships budding! One is not as new as the other.

The first is The Center for Research and Education run by Martine Michel-toure in New York City. She has sent food items to help with school meals. We are finally able to provide a daily breakfast to our little ones!

The other new partnership is with Sewing My Future, run by Julie Baker in New Hampshire. Julie has already worked with seamstresses in the Munoz community and is partnering with us with our fair trade art shop and school, which both are in the same building. She came in October and set up one of our artists with an embroidering job, sewing and embroidering baby booties. The plan is to employ this woman to teach girls and women in the community to sew, and those who are able to reach a certain level will be able to find employment through the art shop and Sewing My Future, as Julie has a growing clientele base and lots of experience.

I mentioned in the last update that we now have less students due to the public school opening full day and providing meals to students. So we are heading in the direction of providing more vocational training and this is a start!

The cacao project is still in the works. A donation of $60 can provide a family with a cacao tree in a new community garden/sustainability center we are working to set up in a spot centered between two of the bateyes. After 4 years, this tree should be able to provide between $80 and $140 US for the family each year through the sale of seeds!

Thank you always for your support!

Judith
Judith's class

Links:

Oct 13, 2014

A New Kitchen

Back to School
Back to School

Well Louran, who was featured in the last report, moved into the home successfully just in time to start the new school year in mid-August. Before we could move him in, we had to create a new cooking situation! Perhaps a quick history of this program is needed in order to explain how meals are prepared. 

 

We began the program with a street census in 2006. We had a day program where boys from the streets could come for meals and lessons. After discovering that some were homeless, we began the residential program. Early on, staff prepared meals for the boys. Throughout the years, they came to an age where they were able to prepare meals for themselves, and we found that it was good for them to do so. Those who were 11 when we met them are now 19 years old. You understand. 

 

We were hesitant to take in younger kids too quickly as the responsibility of raising up the first group and transititiong them to adult life proved to be a daunting one. But in 2012 we brought in two 12 year olds. It was apparent that we should prepare meals for them, and so we did. Sony moved in in 2013, adding a third to this cohort, and then Louran made the fourth. At this point, it made sense that these now 15 year olds began cooking for themselves. Ideally, they would have meals prepared for them until they are 18, and then from 18 to 21 bridge into a halfway house situation where they receive a small weekly stipend and prepare their own meals. At 21, they move onto independence. However, we do not have the program set up with proper facilities and the ability to pay staff and they have some free time, so it makes sense that they cook for themselves. A program where meals are cooked for them up until age 18 should also be one where their days are full with schooling, vocational training, and jobs, and since we are not yet to that point, the reality is that a young man in this situation sitting around with free time and having meals prepared for him gives him the wrong idea.

 

So in order to move them out of our home where meals were prepared and to give them a space to prepare their meals, we built an outdoor kitchen in the yard area, put in a tap, and a picnic table. They love it! We did not set things up in their home, because the boys in the halfway house program who live in the same house would be tempted to eat the food of those under 18.

 

So there is some insight into that. Things are going well. Everyone has great attendance at school, some behavior issues, one extreme case of ADHD, but things are always moving in the right direction!

 

Thanks always for your support!

New Colegio
New Colegio
Louran
Louran's New Shoes!
Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor Kitchen
Picnic Table
Picnic Table

Links:

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