Educate Haitian Immigrant Children in the DR

by Project Esperanza
Vetted

 

We recently had the opportunity to attend a trauma training conference in Santiago, which we then gained knowledge and materials from that allowed us to do a training with our teachers. After sending staff to the training on trauma informed care for children, we have been working on implementing better discipline that is sensitive to past trauma children may have experienced. Teachers have started using behavior charts, to reward good behavior and give children a visual when their behavior is worsening, rather than immediately sending them out of the class.

We believe it will take multiple meetings and tranings with the teachers to be able to see what we hope to see in the implementation stage, but we are thankful that it has begun. While teachers wanted to vent and complain about frustrations they face, listening to the affects that trauma has on children and their behavior was helpful in encouraging them to express patience with such problematic students. a list of catch phrases such as, "Use your words" used at the pre-school level when students get frustrated were shared with the teachers as well

While we are fundraising to pay off the new school building, we are still working on getting our accreditation, so we don't need to rely on another school to enroll our students in the Dominican system. Once we have it, we might be the only Creole-Spanish language school with this targeted curriculum in the Dominican Republic!

Thank you for sticking with us and helping us make our dream of owning our own building and being a fully accredited Haitian Creole-Dominican Spanish school a reality!

Links:

1st grade
1st grade

The school year ended successfully on June 15th. During the last weeks of school, we met with parents and encouraged them to register at the regularization office. Regularization is a process where immigrants register their identity, get finger printed, photoed, and then are given a receipt. They are supposed to go back and submit certain documents such as a notary act, commercial letters from registered businesses, neighborhood watch letters, background checks, and more. If they submit everything in time, they are supposed to receive a residency card from the Dominican government. This is only for people who have been in the country since 2011 or before. Many of our parents were not taking it seriously, or were waiting until the last minute, and the big threat was that anyone who did not go and register before June 17th would be deported. After that date, many people packed up their stuff and went to Haiti out of fear of being deported and losing their stuff. But until now, August 4th, there have been no deportations. However, many have received their residency cards, so that is a success!

 

We also took parents, teachers, and students to an office set up by the Haitian government in Santo Domingo where they were giving passports, birth certificates, and Haitian ID cards, all three for 1,000 pesos, which is around $22 US. This is a very good deal and opportunity but we were met with some corruption there with the employees working there, unfortunately. Some people got through the lines whereas others were told to return. It is a four hour bus ride.

 

As soon as school let out, we got to work putting up classroom divisions and doing other preparations for the next school year. This is why it has been an extremely busy summer! But the school doesn't even look like the same building now. We hired a new director and teacher training and planning started on Monday. We are looking forward to a great new school year! All of our classes will now be in the morning as we have sufficient space to hold them all. And one of our teachers has connections with a vocational school government funded who say they will start doing vocatoinal classes in the afternoons!

 

The new school year starts August 17th. We still have many more needs before the new school year! However, things are looking good. We hope to make this the year that all of our students are sponsored. Thank you!

2nd grade
2nd grade
camp
camp
rennovations
rennovations

Links:

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:

last day of summer camp
last day of summer camp

The end of last year's school year was strong. Thanks to some donations from a local restaurant who represents an organization from the US, we were able to provide meals three times a week for the last three months. After the last day of school, we held a "ti magazen" which means little store in Haitian Creole. Volunteers set up donated items such as soaps, clothes, shoes, toys, school supplies, food, and hygiene items like a little store. Students were awarded with points calculated by their attendance and some other special initiatives like their participation in trash pick up. Entering in the order they arrived, they shopped at the store! We plan to do this at the end of each trimester, so in December, April, and June. If you would like to send items to contribute to the store, please e-mail Info@EsperanzaMeansHope.org. 

 

Then, a week after the school year ended, began our English immersion summer camp! Boy was this summer a success! The volunteer coordinator Joanne created a video for each week of camp which can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/user29596794

 

After summer camp, we held teacher training. We were blessed to have Martine Michel Toure, a Haitian American from New York with a masters in International Education, come participate in the training. She was able to reach the teachers on a deep level, and being Haitian, they really appreciated having a Haitian American instruct them.

 

On August 18th, we began the new school year. The first day of school was unlike anything we have seen since the school opened in 2006. Normally the first week of school there are very few students. They begin coming more regularly the second week, and then the third week is pretty consistent. That is just the way things are here. But this year, the first day of school was packed with both students and their parents. I had never seen so much concern from parents either. And this has not stopped. We are now a few months into the school year and each week we have several new registrations. We have had to invest quite a bit in more benches and tables as we did not have enough space.

 

On January 24th we will have to move into a new space which is yet to be determined. However, we do have a dream location. It is not for rent but for sale. We have rented 5 different buildings in the area for the school until now, and it is time to buy. In addition, the school having its own property is a requirement for accreditation that we are yet to meet. The dream building is a carpentry shop just down the street from where the school is currently. It has plenty of space and at $140,000, for what it is and the location it is in, it is actually a good price. We have done lots of research and it seems like the best thing around. So that is something we are working hard on!

 

Thank you always for your support!

4 passports for students
4 passports for students
family of students who need sponsors
family of students who need sponsors
morning director and students
morning director and students
pre-school teacher patrolling the playground
pre-school teacher patrolling the playground

Links:

Working on About Me pages
Working on About Me pages

Teachers recently formed a committee among the older students in the school and have been teaching them about taking responsibility over some things in the school and learning to manage things as well. They led them each to make a small contribution of money, with one of them being the treasurer and money handler. They then used this money to purchase jugs of water so that water is always available for drinking in the school. This is an expense that the organization has not covered, but they found it to be a need that the school had. We also have some donated fortified rice and recently purchased a stove, pot, plates, and utensils. We have some oil as well. We mainly lack the ingredients to make a sauce to serve with the rice. We are very impressed that teachers are taking the initiative to teach students about collaborating and taking responsibility over some of the school's needs. This really shows their appreciation!

Last week was Holy Week here and there was no school. It marked the end of the second trimester, so we gave out report cards last Saturday. This trimester was truly a great one! Volunteers led students and teachers in learning about solar energy through constructing their very own shoe box solar ovens and a larger one made out of plywood to serve the entire school. We tried them out by baking cookies and hot dogs. After two hours, the cookies were hot goo, but some of the hot dogs bubbled and cooked! Other activities that took place this tremester include each student filling out an "About Me" page to share with their sponsors, and

Also, in February, a Delta Sigma Theta group from Chicago visited with the desire to learn about the documentation issues facing Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. We invited a representative from the Haitian consulate in Santiago to join them on their visit to answer their questions. They also raised funds to help 4 of our students, 3 parents, and one teacher to get passports! The passports have not yet come in, but they were paid for the day of the visit and should be arriving any day.

The four students who are receiving passports are 4 of our 5 sixth grade students, (the 5th received his passport from his sponsor). All will be traveling to Haiti in late May or early June (the exact date has unfortunately not yet been announced and has been moved up from late June due to the World Cup taking place in late June) to take the national exam. So they are in their final month preparing for that! And then everyone is looking forward to Change My Stars summer English camp!

Thank you for your support!

community bingo
community bingo
shoe box solar oven construction
shoe box solar oven construction
Getting passports
Getting passports
shoe box solar oven testing day
shoe box solar oven testing day

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Project Esperanza

Location: Winchester, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.esperanzameanshope.org
Project Leader:
Caitlin McHale
Director
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
$9,214 raised of $20,000 goal
 
52 donations
$10,786 to go
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