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 24, 2013

Moving Along, New School Year

back to school
back to school

We are so thankful to all of you who gave during the GiveforYouth challenge in July, helping us to win a permanent spot on the new site! You truly proved that if everyone pitches in a little, we can reach BIG goals! It is community support such as this that we need to be able to run this program in the way envisioned. It takes a village to raise a child. Raising boys from the streets is anything but easy. But we continue to see their potential and to celebrate the small steps that they take, that will lead them to be productive and conscientious members of society in their adulthood.

We currently have 8 young men in the program ranging from ages 14 to 22. Two are in a transition phase where they live outside of the home, but nearby, and receive a stipend for a little food and rent aid. Their grade levels range from 3rd to 7th. A new school year just started and we are still working on getting back on track, arriving on time and prepared, doing homework, respecting teachers, etc. Summer vacation was probably the best summer we've had so far. Three boys attended English camp throughout the summer, all young men participated in our soccer team, and at the end of the summer, a visiting volunteer helped prepare the group for school with daily focus groups where they discussed things like their personal histories, self esteem, positivity, mental health, and working together.

The members of the program who are older than 18 were leaders in our soccer program throughout the summer, while those under age 18 were participants. This team functions for the boys in the program and for boys in a school we run in a nearby, marginalized community. We have a rule in the program that shows understanding when one is of adult age, yet not yet ready to transition fully to independent life, as opportunities for work are still extremely sparce, but requires that those who are older take responsibility over those who are younger. However, some do this better than others. In years past, members of this older group were players on the team. This summer, they really had to reflect on the fact that they are no longer children, and they need to think of the development of the youth they are responsible over in every aspect. Things that happened at soccer practice would lead into larger discussions on setting good examples, realizing that they are examples, selflessness, maturity, etc. Almost every bus ride home from practice was a volatile discussion, but by the end of the season, they led the team together like a well-oiled machine, and with pride.

We have been asked by the child services agency in the Dominican government to bring in a 13 year old boy from the streets that they recommend. We are working on preparing the current housing with iron bars on the windows and secure lockers before doing this. We didn't realize that the wooden windows were a security hazard, but both were broken out on two separate occasions within the past few months, and someone entered and stole during the day, often while the household members were at soccer practice. So we must invest in iron bars. As far as lockers, the wooden lockers constructed by a volunteer in 2007 have long worn out. It is time that we invest in some durable metal lockers. 

Today is GiveforYouth's one year anniversary. They are matching all donations at 100%, as long as their matching funds hold out. If you want to double your gift, today is a great day to do it!

Thank you so much for your support. We hope that you continue this journey with us.

soccer team
soccer team

Links:

Sep 19, 2013

Another Great Summer Camp & Scholarships

Summer English Camp Graduation 2013
Summer English Camp Graduation 2013

On August 2nd, we finished our third annual English immersion summer camp here in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It lasted 6 weeks and this summer 55 campers participated! We added a new group for youth ages 15 to early 20s. We had cut off campers at 14 in the past, but there was an overwhelming interest of this group, so we added the group and called them Watermelons, in addition to our other 5 fruit groups.

We continued with the four stations - Story, Arts & Crafts, Songs, and Active Games. 10 volunteers, all from the US, ran the camp, in collaboration with our Haitian teachers. 5 counselors were here throughout the entire summer, which created lots of consistency, and 3 counselors were returners from last year, which strengthened our program as well.

Also, as a surprise to all of us, we moved into a new and improved building on our last week, complete with a playground!

After camp, it was time to prepare for the start of the school year. We continued our three scholarships from last year. Freddy Jean Piet enters into his second year studying Modern Languages at the University of OyM. Eriverto Osvaldo has moved onto 6th grade at Sueno de Los Ninos private school. And Miguelina Joseph graduated from 7th grade at Sueno de Los Ninos, so she moved onto a new school for 8th grade and then high school. This school, Santa Rosa de la Lima, is one of the best private schools in the city, and we are proud that she is able to attend. She is loving it so far!

Oh, I almost forgot, there was a special scholarship set up this year for Eriverto's younger sister Aniverca who has cerebral palsy and has never gone to school before this year, just one summer of summer camp. She was registered in 1st grade at Sueno de Los Ninos, but unfortunately, the teacher was unable to continue with her integrated into the class, although they do have one student with cerebral palsy, but he appears to be more accustomed to goign to school and working in a classroom. So the plan is to attempt to place her in a special education school, at least for a few years, if the special scholarship continues, and then attempt to integrate her again.

Thank you for your continued support! Together, we are truly changing lives and working for a better future.

Marielena Camp Graduation 2013
Marielena Camp Graduation 2013

Links:

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!

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