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!