domingo, 20 de septiembre de 2015

Brain Games!

Every day that I am at the school, I have to take bottles away from kids during recess to keep them from kicking them around like soccer balls. The recess area is in the back by the bathrooms, pre-school classrooms, kitchen, and storage room. The pre-school classrooms are made of sheetrock and the storage room and kitchen are made of plywood. So running into them could cause holes and the lock on the storage room was already broken off once by someone running into the door.

Yesterday a group of sixth grade boys had their own little ball and were playing. They whined and complained when I took it away and explained to them why they couldn't play. They followed me back to the office and promised that they would not run into the wall. I told them that when they get into playing soccer, they won’t even see the walls or think about it but will just be running after the ball. And that I was sorry, but until we had access to the outside area, we could not run during recess or any time during school.  

They continued to whine and complain. I told them that there were other fun things to do that were quiet and didn’t involve running, and then remembered the cool game that had come in the latest barrel that Cole and Adam sent. It has pieces of different random

shapes, sizes, and colors along with connectors to connect them together. On the box, it has examples. I brought it out, put it on a table, and told them that I would give 10 pesos to the person who made the best creation out of these pieces before recess was over. Five boys (Ivens, Jon, Ronalson, Frandly, and Renaldo) participated. Some of the soccer players had gone to get snacks or do something else.

I don’t like the idea of bringing money prizes into the school, but on this occasion, I wanted to make an exception to get them quickly
into a new game, as there were only 7 minutes left until their recess was over. Their teacher, named Mentor, observed and encouraged them. After the 7 minutes were up, he and I judged. We chose two different creations as our favorite, so we called Claudion, the doorman and asked him which was his favorite. He chose yet a third creation, so I looked out the door to see who was nearby. A student from prior years, Peterson, was outside the door listening to a little hand radio. I called him in and he chose Jon’s creation, as did Claudion, thus breaking the tie! I awarded Jon with the 10 pesos and we took pictures.

I want to come with mini marshmallows and tooth picks one day soon and challenge them to see who can make the highest tower out of a limited number of materials! Looking forward to a few days of a Bible and science after school program Hillsong Church volunteers are coming to do in October!

Don't forget, if you haven't sponsored a student yet, the cost is $100 for the year.

domingo, 19 de julio de 2015

Is this the same building?

Wow! We have been so very busy these past few months! School ended on June 15th, just two days before the regularization deadline. Regularization is something the government is doing where foreigners without proper documentation register, submit a certain number of required documents proving the amount of time they have spent in the country and what they have been doing here, and the end result is a residency card. The threat is that those who do not complete this process will be deported. So June 17th was a scary time and we moved forward the last day of school to accomodate. 

Thankfully, to this date, no deportations have taken place during this process in Puerto Plata, and many are starting to receive their residency cards!

It has now been just over a month since school ended, and boy have we done a lot with the building! First of all, thanks to your wonderful support, we met our goal during the 60 day Indiegogo fundraiser. We raised $20,000! We had some great matching gifts there that spurred us along, and a donation of 12 RCI time share points to throw a raffle into the midst. The drawing has been done and was video-taped, but we are editing the video before the announcement. Special thanks to Good Kharma Foundation who donated $4,000 toward matching and an extra $16,000 on top of that!

Let me tell you what we have been up to. We ended a great school year, handed out reports cards, and began English camp on June 29th. We just ended our third week of six weeks of English camp. Last week was especially special as one of our members of our board of directors, Edna May Hermosillo who is a French teacher in Atlanta, Georgia at Pace Academy, brought 3 fellow teachers and 16 middle school students to run the camp for a week! They also were each paired with a local buddy to do afternoon excursions to the cable cart, beach, a scavenger hunt in a batey, cooking lesson, and more.

Building-wise, we have done a lot in this past month! From the time we moved in the building, we had already made an office with plywood walls as well as a storage room and kitchen, also with plywood walls. Someone advised that we try building with sheetrock, as it is not really any more expensive than plywood, and it looks better. We started by putting up two sheet rock rooms in the back, which will be our pre-school and kindergarden rooms. We put doors on both classrooms as well. Then, before we could do the classroom divisions in the front part of the school, we needed to even out some uneven floors. One of our artists suggested a pastor in Munoz who did nice cement work, and put us in contact. He did a great job with the floor, and then inquired about the cost of the sheetrock. He explained that he could do the remaining classroom divisions for the same price as the sheetrock, and it would last decades longer. We began planning for that. He then said he would need to up the price a few hundred dollars, but we were already sold. So that work began. 

The walls went up, the finishing cement went on, and
the doors were put in. The right side of the building has chain-link walls. It will do for now. After all, we have to finish paying off the building! We just wanted to make it functional rather than oen large open space with 140 energetic youngsters and no divisions. But the right floor was looking really bad, so we flattened it out as well.

Now, the bathroom. Our 65 gallon tinaco (tank on the roof that stores water in communities where water only comes through the pipes one or two days a week) was NOT doing the trick. We
Old tinaco with new tinaco.
purchased a 600 gallon tinaco and installed it. The bathrooms the builder's owner had made were not working either. Both wooden doors had fallen off the hinges and both ceramic sinks had fallen to the ground and broken. We raised the walls with block, put a plywood roof on, put in sinks with a stand under them, aluminimum doors, lighting, toilet paper holders, and a cement floor in one that was looking rough.

I forgot to mention that there were only a few light switches and plugs in the whole big building, so we employed an electrician from Munoz to do the lighting. He also installed a
Bathroom doors being installed.
wall fan in each room and repaired our super strong stand alone fan that had come unscrewed. Unfortunately, shortly after completing the work, Jimmy was killed in a motorcycle accident this past week. We will truly miss him as he was our Mr. Fix It in Munoz, his kids are our students, and he and his wife often participated in artist trainings and sold in the shop, as his wife still does.

The last tasks we need to do to prepare the building for the new school year is to:

1. Figure out why water is not going up into the tinaco. We have been having to pay a water truck to put in water, but it should fill up when water comes through the pipes twice a week. This is a matter of continuing to bug the plumber, who has already come to check it out but did not actually solve the problem.

2. Figure out why the lights are flickering a bit when they are turned off. One long light burnt out a week after it was installed.

3. Put windows in the back two rooms as even with the fans, there is less ventilation and it is super hot back there.

4. Paint! Faith, Hope, and Joy Foundation who helps with our school and camp meals is donating $250 toward this. This week volunteers will do a white coat over all the new walls, and then colors!!

So far, we have raised $41,481.70 toward the building. We have spent $9,452.25 on remodeling and $36,741.57 has gone to the owner. We estimate we will need another $5,500 for rennovations and with the total cost of the building is $130,337.08. We have until April 24, 2016 to pay off the remainder. If we pass that, we will be charged interested. So here we lack $93,595.51.  We are currently working on a fundraising strategy as to how to close that gap. If anyone has any ideas or wants to help out, please contact us!

martes, 28 de abril de 2015

Moving Forward!

It has been an amazing couple of months since the blog was last updated! So much positive change and new experiences for the kids! We had a volunteer group come called Black Women Empowered who came and taught African dance for a day at our school. We quickly realized what a challenge it was communicating to a hundred kids spread out for exercises, as they wanted to clump and basically be touching the instructor, haha! The back room space is great because volunteers and leaders can stand up on an elevation to give space and better sight for the children. This element of our building proved helpful when two volunteers came to do fitness classes. It also introduced them to Jeffrey, who teaches drumming and dance lessons. Jeffrey plans on staying long term and continuing dance lessons on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, for children that have maintained a longer lasting interest into learning the art. Creative Arts is a powerful outlet for children in high risk situations as it lessens negative emotions and provides a safe environment. We are very thankful for our volunteers.

Montague Rotary Club from Prince Edward Island, Canada, has blessed us in donating books for the school! We have two pending book orders and are working towards an organized library system in the future. 

We have the incredible opportunity to send two teachers to Matenwa Community School for teacher training at the end of this month! They have also agreed to send two trainers to us in August so that the rest of the teachers get the training as well! This is such an incredible step towards bettering our schools and empowering our teachers as well.

Our fundraiser for our Padre Grenero School has raised $17,216 with  $927 left in matching funds! 5 days remaining! If you donate $1000 you get a classroom named after you. Three classes have been named so far and there are six yet to be named! We have some ways we want to bless those who are fighting for the purchase of this building with us. If you donate $100 you get a t-shirt. Every $10 enters your name into a free vacation raffle. The winner gets 12 RCI time share points! We are more than halfway to our goal and we can't do this without you all!

Give towards the school through this link! 

Thank you so much for your continued support of Project Esperanza. We have the incredible privilege of seeing life change every single day, and we wouldn't have that opportunity if it weren't for you.

domingo, 15 de marzo de 2015

Hope in Action!

Hello, all of you wonderful Project Esperanza supporters! My name is Emily and I am a long-term missionary volunteering with PE! My focus has been tutoring the kids that are falling behind in reading at the Padre Grenero School. So, every day I usually have about four to five students and we read one book in Creole and one in Spanish. Every child reads at a different pace, so each day is different. It’s amazing! I get to see progress educationally and observe how they socially interact with me. Now that they have gotten to know me, spending one on one time with the kids gives me the chance to pour that time solely into them; to encourage them, love them and get to know more about their lives.

This month, we had the honor of hosting two volunteer groups. They used their spring break to invest in this beautiful place, and
that is something we are so grateful for. They spent their time here working with the children at both schools and accomplishing many different projects for Project Esperanza. We had one group that painted the outside of the school with our logo, along with the phrases, “Paz para Hispaniola”, “Colegio Esperanza”, and “Juntos Somos Fuertes.”

We had the other group that educated the children of the importance of recycling and followed through by making really cool recycled trashcans. I see them used every day in the school. They also did physical activity and art projects. Science projects, art and
physical education are supplemental activities we invite volunteers to do in our grassroots schools that add to their curriculum in their native languages of Spanish and Haitian Creole.

We got to hold our first movie night in the new space! We popped popcorn and watched Princess Bride. Both volunteer groups were a part of this, and dozens of people from the community joined us.

We still have the indiegogo fundraiser going on with the goal of raising $20K toward the purchase of the school in 60 days! $2,245 amount has been raised with 47 days left. Please chip in if you haven't already!

We appreciate and honor you! Thank you for all that you have done, and will continue to do as you join us in the vision that God has given us. 

Thank you!

miércoles, 7 de enero de 2015

The Pressure is On!

The last post was a video about the fact that we are having to move out of our current space this month and hope to buy a nearby building currently used as a carpentry shop. Well, there have been some developments since this. 

The landlord has agreed to a deal. We pay 300,000 pesos as a deposit and he allows us to move in this month. He will continue to rent the outdoor area to a bus company, but we can move into the indoor area. If we pay the purchase price of the building within six months, the 300,000 will be deducted from the total, equaling 5.5 million pesos. If we pay within the year, half of the 300,000 will be deducted, equaling 5.65 million pesos. If we do not pay within the year, he can raise the price, we will have to pay another 300,000 for the following year if he decides to rent it to us again, and he can also sell the building to someone else if he chooses to. He said there were two other buyers interested but did not enter into much conversation with them since we had been talking to him about it for a year, so he figured he should continue with that route. 

Sooo.. it's fundraising time!!! 

The other thing is.. this year the two small Haitian schools in Los Dominguez both stopped functioning. They had talked about collaborating and Project Esperanza was going to rent a space for them to do this, but they just could not get their act together, someone important kept being in Haiti and holding things up, and things did not materialize. Throughout this school year, we have been approached by parents wanting to send their children to the school in Padre Granero, but not feeling as though they can pay the transportation money. Three students have aid through Project Esperanza for their motorcycle trip there and back each day. This is a dangerous option, but the only practical option price wise, unless the kids could be trusted to walk long distances to get to public transportation, which they can't. They would undoubtedly miss many days of school if they were expected to do this. 

So after several visits from certain families, we struck a deal. They are talking to the parents of 12 additional students and asking them each to commit to paying 100 pesos a week per child. They found this to be doable, but no higher. This, along with the motorcycle money we will no longer have to spend, will leave us needing 300 pesos a week to allow these 12 more students to go to school. The parents and kids so greatly want this as they have been turned away from the public school in Los Dominguez, are of school age, and are not in school. 300 pesos with a 44 peso to dollar exchange rate is $6.82.

I feel strange to request this when we have so much need in reference to funds for the new building, but after talking to parents so much, I don't see how I cannot request this. Please consider helping. Thank you! 

domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2014

A Very Belated, and Very Important Update!

3rd grade
This blog has been neglected. Busy, busy, busy. So much has gone on with the school since the last post. Summer camp was the best ever, and this school year has been the best ever as well.October attendance shows 152 students in regular attendance at the school!! The bad news is, only 39 of them
Kindergarten teacher at recess
are sponsored!! More good news is some partnerships we have been forming. Center for Research and Education in New York City did a teacher training in August, a restaurant in the area donates rice for school meals, Faith, Hope, and Joy Foundation and Love United complete the rest, pay the
Morning director with students
cook, and provide oversight. Praise God! 

So the biggest news is explained in the Facebook post below:

Camp zoo trip, July 2014
WARNING: A challenge and rant. Alright, I hope to convey to the many of you who have worked with the school in Padre Granero in some respect and who love the kids and teachers there, the urgency that I feel. On Jan. 24th 2015, we have to move out of the current space that has the playground pictured in this group's photo.
"My School" drawing contest
n the area and this is the one! This is why I set up the Recycle for Padre Granero group and kids have been chipping in fundraising through recycling, and now through a "My School" t-shirt design contest which will be on t-shirts sent to anyone who donates $100+ for the new building. Anyway, I
"Little store" rewards
think we have to have the serious, collective, committed goal of purchasing this place by the time camp 2015 starts...which is the last week in June. I know we can do it!! I want to do some monthly fundraiser challenges that people can do in their respective cities. I know we
School meals
are all scattered all over the place which makes things harder, but I urge you to please be bold and confident! We can do it and the cause is oh so worthy! When we first came here in 2006 and conducted a street census, we easily created 140 profiles for kids working on the streets, the majority of whom were Haitians living in Padre Granero, NONE of whom (among the Haitians) were in school. And there were plenty of kids we
Jodi from Love United
did not get profiles on as well. I am happy to say that the situation is not the same today!! We should do a follow up census. That will be a goal for 2015. But the fact is that we have worked to combat the situation where these kids had very little to no access to school and have come a long way! We
Recycling project
have to finish what we started. We need our own building, and we need to get accredited... which having our own building is one of the main requirements for that. We need to turn this school into something that will last. Having the building will make that much more of a reality. So I posted the
Supesta soccer team
brochure about the vacation raffle. Never has a post reached so many people as that post did on the FB page. So the interest is high! We just have to get out and sell! Can we get some friendly competition going over who can sell the most tickets? Also, back in the day, we used to sell mistletoe on
Teacher training
VT campus around Christmastime. I had to call around to several places to find someone who had it, but he sold a few branches and we cut it up into bundles tied with ribbon, which if I remember correctly, we sold for $5 each. So this is my late Nov./Dec. fundraising challenge for the purpose of fundraising for the
EM, Cherline, and campers
new school building: Sell vacation raffle tickets (drawing Dec. 18th) and sell bundles of mistletoe! At school, at church, at work, at a stand in a public place like the creative! And again, be bold and confident! This is a worthy cause! And it deserves to be known! Billions and billions of dollars are raised for medical research through which a cure might be possible and made
Camp game
accessible to a small percentage of the world's population. I am thankful for that too and am not saying those funds should not be raised. But I am just saying that the turnover is a lot more distant there than funds going directly to affecting a child's life HERE and
Faith, Hope, & Joy clinic

NOW. Many are concerned about global warming and overpopulation and other issues but the biggest problem I have seen in front of me for the past 8 years for the country of Haiti and the places like Puerto Plata where Haitian people seek refuge and the burden/responsibility that that places on this city is... the need for loving
Joanne ran a great camp!
and nurturing human development. I spent a large chunk of today crying after watching a video of a woman here beating a child. Maybe torturing is a better word. It was on the news here and I am sorry I ever saw it. We know cases like that happen in the US too but the truth is that Haitians in general have a lot of abuse instilled in's a vicious cycle that can make things really hard and dysfunctional. How does that ever change?
TLC. TLC. TLC. Consistency. Proper examples. I want for them the love and nurturing environment that I grew up with..that we all did who grew up in the US and Canada. With our large classrooms, teachers who use proper punishments, creative games that make learning fun, science experiments, awesome libraries, and all of that! God bless it I want it for them too. Please don't drop out of the group, I'm not angry, just sharing with you the pressures that are on me here and the urgency that I feel. Go team go!