Things have been going pretty well with the United Brothers School of Muñoz. October was a wonderful month fundraising wise through GlobalGiving! Thank you to everyone who donated on the Bonus Day and also those who donated in memory of my grandmother who recently passed away. Funds raised in October will be sent to us in the end of November so that will help with paying teachers for the month of November as well as the months they are owed for last school year which we have not yet been able to pay due to a drop in income we have faced since 2009. Teachers were just paid their salaries for the month of September and are now owed for the months of May, June, July, August, and October. You see, in order for the school to function properly, we need just short of $1,000 a month to pay teachers (which still only supports a very minimalist lifestyle for them), pay rent on the building, and pay for a daily snack we have found it necessary to provide for students. We can only depend on about $700 each month from monthly sponsors and this is to cover all of our organization's expenses, not just this school's. Therefore, if we don't have random donations or fundraisers bringing in funds each month, we fall back. For right now we are trying to keep those four months from last school year the only thing owed and the goal is to keep up with payments on time this school year and little by little, pay back for the four months last year. As you can see, we have already gotten behind as October has come and gone and we have no funds to pay for that month. However, with October fundraising being so successful, we will be able to pay for November and October out of those funds! Thank you!
If you donated $100 or more in October then we will be contacting you asking if you would like your donation to serve as a student sponsorship. If you say yes, we will send you your student's profile along with a family picture. We still have many students in need of sponsorship, but have been encouraged with the sponsorships we have received this far as well. However, many students are still without books and uniform.
You may know that we have been working on beginning several small businesses. These small businesses serve to do the following:
-to generate income here in the Dominican Republic to support the school and other Project Esperanza programs
-to create work for locals
-to empower (as well as discipline and sharpen) locals mentally by leading them from a dependent life living off of donations from afar to a life where they can be in a position of power and control over their own lives and the education of their children
The business that we have been able to grow the most so far is an art shop. We now have an online shop as well which we hope people will consider for some unique Christmas gifts. We have a Spanish speaking IT volunteer coming for several months at the end of the month who would be wonderful to oversee the launch of an internet center should we have the funds available to purchase the remaining equipment. And you can read about the movie theater efforts here on our website.
We have two women here working with the art shop which allows them to be in the community where the students and their families live day after day. They have been able to observe and interact quite a lot and have been quite helpful in some situations by reporting some concerning cases of abuse, which I am then able to communicate with the teachers and director of the school about and we are able to keep an eye on. I always say that Haiti is a country that was founded on abuse. It was founded on slavery that was much more abusive than even the United States, England, and other countries that were involved in the slave trade and this seemed to instill abuse into the way of life in some respects. Therefore, while working with Haitians, we find people using abuse as common practices without so much ever having received correction or a consistent example of another way of living and have to address such issues often. We are happy to report that our teachers don't use any sort of physical abuse as punishments, such as slapping kids with belts or having them kneel on rocks, although they did in the beginning.
Quite honestly, we didn't have to do much to address these issues other than treat the teachers themselves well and provide better facilities and materials to reduce the stress of the overcrowded classroom situation. In some situations we have had dialogue over proper punishments and inproper punishments but the behaviors really did fade themselves out mainly due to the change in environment and proper treatment of teachers themselves, to the best of our abilities. Now with these two women present daily we have more opportunities to address such situations in the students' living environments, whether addressing them verbally or through trying to relieve the stress the parents face. One of the women, Alicia, has been trying to get mothers interested in yoga as a stress reliever they definitely are not used to. As always when introducing something new, there is little response, but we plan to continue promoting it until it becomes a fun weekly activity!
Thank you, always, for your support! With the holiday season coming up, we hope you will consider sponsoring a student as a gift to a loved one or purchasing items from our online store. Lastly, if you are interested in visiting, we now have a hostel for volunteers and visitors. We would love to show you around in person! Thanks!