Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic

by The Bienvenido Project (FUNFONAVI)
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic
Offer Hope for 300 Youth in the Dominican Republic

On July 20th, the President of the Dominican Republic issued a new state of emergency for the country. In Santo Domingo, where our project is located, a curfew has been in place from 7pm to 5am Monday to Friday and 5pm to 5am on Saturdays and Sundays. This has become our new normal.

Like much of the world, we have anxiously been awaiting an ease in restrictions. We are so ready to open the doors of our project again! Now a month past the normal start date for school, we have also been waiting to hear the country's education plan. As of Friday, September 18, the latest news is that the country's schools will be fully remote beginning October 11. This was a huge shock as we work in a country where few have reliable electricity let alone computers and the internet. Next week, we will be meeting with the private school we partner with for our school scholarship program to learn more. We will then be able to assess the needs in our community and develop a plan for how to move forward. Although we don't have the specifics yet, we know we will need your help!

There is still much to celebrate, though, and thanks to your faithful support we have been able to keep the families in our community from experiencing starvation. Twice last month, 135 parents received a bag of food filled with rice, beans, cooking oil, milk, pasta, flour, and other staple items. These same individuals also attended a seminar on COVID-19 Preventive Health and Hygiene which was led by a Bioanalyst who is currently working with COVID19 tests and is a survivor of the disease herself. At the end of this event, hygiene kits were distributed with hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, masks, and vinegar to use for cleaning. More than 600 individuals will benefit from the food and hygiene kits that were provided to these parents!

To continue helping us keep the families in Bienvenido from going hungry, please keep donating to our COVID-19 relief efforts. Every dollar makes a difference!

We hope you and your family are well, and are learning to celebrate the "wins" amidst so much uncertainty and hardship!

On behalf of The Bienvenido Project,

Laura Collazo

United States Coordinator

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When the coronavirus made it's way to the Dominican Republic, and restrictions and safety precoctions required us to cease our normal operations, our biggest concern was how to keep the children in Bienvenido from going hungry. For many in our feeding program, the meal they eat with us is often the only they will eat for the day. And for familes who were able to provide some form of nutrition for their children, their meager earnings became non-existent when they were no longer able to sell their goods in the streets.

We quickly worked to re-organize our efforts and ensure we were doing everything possible to keep children and their families from starving in Bienvenido. You can read in detail about our Covid-19 support work, but in brief, we partnered with a local store to create customer accounts for families in Bienvenido. Our goal is to provide 800 pesos (aproximately $15 USD) to 150 families twice a month.

Thanks to the financials gifts of many through our new project on GlobalGiving and local Dominican Institiutions, we have been able to support 105 families. Just this week we were able to set up a booth at a local store and 143 individuals stoped to donate food to be distributed in Bienvenido. We hope to soon be able to share that all 150 families are being supported.

All of us at The Bienvenido Project hope you and your loved ones are healthy, and that all of your own needs are being met. We know this is such a diificult time for those around the world. In the same way you have kept us in your thoughts, you are in ours as well. You're part of our team, and whether we know you personally or not, we care for you!

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Hello supporters of The Bienvenido Project, 

My name is Cassidy Gallagher and I am very excited to tell you about what I have planned with The Bienvenido Project for this upcoming May. We are hosting the Promotores Adolescentes program, a four-week health sciences summer camp for adolescents in Bienvenido! The focus of the program is Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health (ASRH) and will include educational workshops, skills training, and community engagement projects surrounding related ASRH themes (eg. sexually-transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS). The program is planned to take place May 4th and May 28th with the goal of sending 25 adolescents to participate. The purpose of this program is to educate and empower youth to tackle the sexual health problems that teens in Bienvenido face, while simultaneously learning about a wide range of community health topics. Activities will include: Health Education Workshops, Nursing Skills Training, Leadership & Personal Development Workshops, Community Health Projects, Professional & Career Development Workshops, Field trips to academic and health institutions, and Community Day to celebrate the accomplishments of program participants. 

In order to prepare for this amazing program, we are dedicating the upcoming GlobalGiving’s 2020 March Little by Little Matching Campaign towards raising funds for the Promotores Adolescentes camp. The campaign will run from Monday March 23 - Friday August 27. All donations up to $50 will be matched 50% and/or new monthly donations will be matched 100%. We would appreciate any and all support that you have to offer in order to make the Promotores Adolescentes program an interactive, inspiring, and truly unforgettable experience for all the teens participating! 

A little more about me, I am a junior nursing student from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing with a double minor in Global Health & Hispanic Studies. You may remember me from my independent project that I conducted in Bienvenido last June 2019, conducting research on the main health problems within the community. After analyzing the data we collected, I have decided, in accordance with the stellar leadership at The Bienvenido Project, to return this summer with the focus on researching Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health (ASRH) in Bienvenido. My research project aims to measure the outcomes of the Promotores Adolescentes program and its ability to empower youth to promote ASRH within the community. By doing this, I hope that the adolescents can target the social determinants associated with the high rate of problems—such as HIV/AIDS, STIs, teenage pregnancy, prostitution, substance use—and implement small-scale projects in the community to solve some of these issues. This research project is very exciting as it is placing the responsibility to find solutions to these issues in the hands of the youth, the true agents of change for the future. We hope that adolescents who participate in this program will feel empowered in their roles as community health promoters (“promotores adolescentes”) and continue to encourage the people of Bienvenido to adopt healthy behaviors and lifestyles for generations to come. 

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It’s hard to believe February is already here... Happy (belated) New Year!!! There are two events we want to share with you before we get too far into 2020. Enjoy!!!

On December 21, 500 children, in four shifts, were fed a traditional Dominican holiday meal and then sent on their way with a bag of candies, grapes, and an apple. The dance team also put on a show during each round of meals, and the youth recognized individuals to thank them for their dedication to the project. Like every year, it was day filled with so much excitement! If you'd like to see more from this event, please check out this video on our Facebook page.

From January 19 to 23, we had a team from Grand Rapids, MI come to visit. They have been supporters of our project for almost 10 years, and their visits are always filled with so much love and fun for the kids. We especially appreciated their repair work at the project this trip. It was much needed and aided in creating a much more welcoming environment.

We look forward to another year of partnership with all of YOU, our supporters. As we always say, and truly believe, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

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The Collazo Family
The Collazo Family

My husband, Tony, and I (and two boys) have been working with The Bienvenido Project for over six years, and even though we lived in Santo Domingo for two of these years, we have never had the opportunity to attend the project's annual holiday dinner. This year, our dreams of a Caribbean Christmas are coming true though. In less than a month, we are headed to Santo Domingo to spend a week helping to prepare for the 12th annual "Noche Buena" celebration.

Noche buena means "good night," and for the children of Bienvenido it truly is a really good night! This celebration is our biggest outreach to the youth in the community and extends much beyond our regular attenders; last year over 450 children came through our doors! It's a night of music and laughter, but the most anticipated part is a huge Christmas feast. In the Dominican Republic this looks like roasted chicken, slow cooked pork, pastelon (a lasagna style dish made with plantains in place of noodles), rice with pigeons peas and coconut milk, potato salad, and the most exciting part, grapes and apples! Now grapes and apples might not seem like something to get excited about, but these fruits are not local in the Dominican Republic and are definently a special treat. Think how excited you get about christmas cookies, candy canes, or hot cocoa with marshmallows this time of year... grapes and apples are this in the Dominican Republic.

A feast like this is costly for a low budget program like ours, yet we whole heartedly believe it to be worth it. Just look at the smiles on the kids faces last year! (Note: select subtitles for English)

We wish you could all join us for a Caribbean Christmas next month (and if you ever want to, please let us know. We'll make it happen!), but there's still a way to be part of the festivities even if your Christmas will be white. For every child that attends Noche Bunea, we need to raise $5.50, and this year, we hope to invite 500 children to celebrate with us. Would you consider making a child's night? Or ten? Or 100 :)

To make your donation go even further, December 3 from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm EST is the day to give! Our project is eligible for Giving Tuesday matching funds, and the more that's given this day, the more bonus funds we receive. Donations should be made right here through Global Giving.

For all of our American supporters, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving this week. And for every one of you around the world, thank you for your support!

Until next year,

The Collazo Family (United States Coordinators)

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Organization Information

The Bienvenido Project (FUNFONAVI)

Location: Bienvenido - Dominican Republic
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Laura Collazo
GREENWICH, CT United States
$175,530 raised of $200,000 goal
1,949 donations
$24,470 to go
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