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 24, 2015

New Students

clay and magnifying glasses in pre-school!
clay and magnifying glasses in pre-school!

Parents in a neighborhood in town called Los Dominguez continually solicited help in sending their kids to school as many were turned away from the public school in the neighborhood and were therefore not in school. One girl came consistently to camp last summer so I began asking camp counselors for help with her transportation money to go to and from school. After a few months, I was finally successful. But the parents kept on coming. I told them how long it took to get one student's transportation covered and I did not have hope with more. 

 

Then we did some math and figured out that with the transportation spent already sending two boys home boys and this other girl via motorcycle to school each morning, that could go toward sending a van which would carry many more kids to school. So I began telling parents that we could send a guagua (van) if each gave 100 pesos per child, per week, excluding the three who were already going on moto. They all willingly agreed and in January, Los Dominguez kids began piling 30 into the van to travel across town to our school in Munoz each morning. Parents gave quite consistently until the past week or two. They must have found out that some parents pay less often than others so those who were giving more consistendly dropped back. However, we did some other fundraising for this specifically on the side and it has not been much of a problem. But we had to add a new teacher to be able to handle all of the new students! We also just had UCF spring break volunteers who helped build a roof for more classroom space in the back of the building. Now we are just working on putting and end to the horrific weak electricity that comes in surges and explodes light builbs.

 

 

Thank you so much for your support. 

roof for more classroom space
roof for more classroom space
trash can construction
trash can construction

Links:

Feb 5, 2015

We Moved!

group effort
group effort
On Jan. 24, our rental contract ended. The landlord sold the buliding so we were not able to renew the contract, and had to move out. He gave us  the first chance to purchase and although it was a great spot for the time we spent there, it is not an ideal permanent home. We had our eyes on a building down the street. 
However, this is a HUGE fundraising project. We did not have the funds raised by the time we had to move out, so we searched around for rentals. What we found were buildings of similar price to where we just left but way too small, or very nice, expensive buildings, that we could fit into, but still were too fancy for the school. 
Finally, we tried again to negotiate with the owner of the property we hope to buy. We struck a deal. He has given us one year to pay off the property. We have had to give a deposit of 300,000 pesos, which is around $6,750 US. If we pay the remainder within six months, this money goes into the total sale. If we pay the remainder in one year, half of it goes to the total sale. If we fail to pay by the end of the year, the deposit serves as rent for the year. The owner could then sell the building to someone else, raise the sale price, etc. so we are in full fundraising mode! 
The deal was to move in on the 24th and the landlord had promised that the building would be ready, as it was bing used as a carpentry shop and was therefore covered in lumber, machinery, and dust! Well, he didn't start moving out until we ran him down on the morning of the 24th! We worked hard on the 24th, 25th, and 26th (a Monday but a Dominican holiday, so no school) to at last completely clear out, clean, and paint the giant back room. We finished around 9PM on the 26th and received students the next morning. 

We have quite a few more things to do in order to make the building functional as a school. On of the most urgent needs is to put up walls to separate large open space into classrooms, an office, and a kitchen. This is a project that will definitely keep us busy! But my how the proper classroom space will increase the quality of the education.

moving equipment
moving equipment
spraying the whole place down
spraying the whole place down

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:

 

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