The United Brothers School of Munoz

by Project Esperanza
Vetted

Everything in Munoz has been going well! Students returned from winter break refreshed and ready to learn! The new gate has been really helpful in maintaining the privacy of the school. We still have students that wander out during the day (especially during recess, many want to go and buy a snack) but we are working on changing this mentality with our teachers. We previously had an issue of tour guides trying to lead groups into the school during hours to give out candy and sweets, which disrupted the day and was not healthy for our students. We have talked to many of the guides about this and it is finally seeming to improve!

 

Little store is something we do at Christmastime and before school begins in order to distribute donations in a way that rewards students for school attendance. The last one was chaotic, but went very well. There was plenty for all our students to choose the items they wanted for Christmas and pick a few gifts for their families. Thanks to our teachers for helping to organize!

 

Our teachers have also done a good job of adjusting to the Creole-Spanish only curriculum, when they are used to teaching in French. We are looking forward to see the growth by the end of the year!


Thank you again for all your support!

Links:

We finally got the gate fixed at the entrance to the school from the road! It had been an issue for quite awhile now. It is an iron sliding gate. It is the landlord's responsibility to fix but he had not fixed it. We asked if we could fix it and deduct the money from the rent and he said that he would fix it. This went back and forth for months, and actually years. We built a wooden gate inside of the iron gate at one point but it lasted just a few years. He demanded us to not fix the iron gate, saying we would get ripped off, and kept saying he was coming to fix it that weekend or that month. Finally, this past month, we did not pay rent until it was fixed. Although he did not come, he had his man in charge fix it.

 

So now we can lock the kids in during school! :) We have no doorman so with the teachers being busy teaching, if one wanders off, they have to either leave the class to get the child, or let the child go. We also have no shutting classrooms so that makes classroom management a bit more challenging. We have two normal sized classrooms, one small class that takes place in a very small room, and one class that meets outside under a roof. So this is why kids running off is a problem at times. Hopefully one day we'll have our own building, but up until now we have been renting.

 

Christmas break is just around the corner. We have many donated clothes, shoes, school supplies, and more we plan on distributing to our students, parents, and teachers through a "little store". They have earned points through attedance and now can redeem them at the "little store".

 

The Dominican Republic has a 13th month law which means that in December, employers have to provide a Christmas bonus to employees which is an additional month's pay. So we have been trying to save up to provide that but it never is easy! Although we pay between the 1st and 5th of each month for the previous month, in December, employees expect their pay before the 24th and it has to be two months. So it's a challenge! But it helps them to have a nice Christmas.

 

Thank you so much for your support!

Links:

puppet show
puppet show

We had a great summer here in Munoz! We had four volunteers who were here the entire summer, as well as several others who came and went. They have now all left and we hope they can return again one day!

 

The summer was great, but there were some great challenges for the community as well. In June, a fire broke out in one of the three bateyes and burnt 34 houses to the ground. We were able to distribute many donations our wonderful supporters and volunteers gave to help out families in this time of extra need. The government has shared plans to rebuild but nothing has commenced yet. In conjunction with Sewing My Future run by Julie Baker, we received a donation from the ... foundation to make school uniforms for the fire victims and are working on that currently. 

 

This summer was a bit of a crazy time for all Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, as there was something going on by the Ministry of Interior Policy and Foreign Affairs called Regularization. June 17th marked the deadline where people without proper documentation were able to register their identity, and then given 45 more days to submit certain required documents such as a background check, commercial reference letters, notary acts, etc. Those who did this were to receive a residency card, and those who did not were to be deported. We were able to reserve some spots for community members during the last few days as many put it off to the last minute and were standing in line and sleeping outside of the office for days, trying to get a chance to register.

 

This summer, one volunteer, Kiki, especially immersed herself and engaged with the Munoz community. In her free time after camp, she took kids to the beach, led them in recycling activities, and just shared her time with them, getting to know them and their families. 

 

Ashley and Kayla led a dance class two days a week for the girls. Ballet, tap, and jazz is actually a foreign form of dance where the norm in the batey is provocative dirty dancing tied to the high percentage of involvement in prostitution. They even rounded up donated tap shoes. 

 

We ran two weeks of English immersion camp during the month of July. Simultaneously we ran a five week camp in the other community where we work called Padre Granero. AB conducted research on the success and methodology of the camp. You can view stats from her research on the camp program's blog in the very near future. 

 

We also had a visit from the Berryville Baptist Rascals who put on an awesome puppet show one Friday morning! The kids and community members thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

We also had a sad loss this summer. Jimmy, one of our artists and a skilled electrician who had just done some work for us in the school in Padre Granero passed away in a motorcycle accident in July. His wife Miranda is also an active artist in the shop. They have two children ages 5 and 3. If you would like to support his wife as she really needs it during this time, please consider purchasing one of her bracelets. 

 

One last bit of news is that the cacao project is developing a bit! The Northeastern University students who joined us over Spring Break have done some fundraising toward the project and plan to come back during Spring Break 2016 to get started planting some seedlings! 

 

School began on August 17th. We had a great two weeks of teacher training before the start of school. We are happy to welcome Joseph Justine as our new director. 

 

Stay tuned for more updates to come!

songs station at English camp
songs station at English camp

Links:

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:

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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Organization Information

Project Esperanza

Location: Winchester, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.esperanzameanshope.org
Project Leader:
Caitlin McHale
Director
Winchester, VA United States

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