$5 Raffle Tickets to Support a Great Cause!


Do you like any of the items in the collage above? All are hand-made here in the Dominican Republic, mostly by struggling mothers and youth/young adults who have spent time on the streets. Products include:

-beaded necklace with natural sambo seed clasp
-beach creation ornament with Haitian Creole word on one side and English word on the other
-beaded bracelet with sambo seed clasp
-gourd chip bracelet
-larimar necklace
-leather passport cover

A painting is also included in the bundle, although not pictured.
2nd and 3rd prizes are available as well. Drawing will take place December 19th. These products and more are also on sale at www.EsperanzaMeansHope.storenvy.com.

You can double your tickets today by giving $10 via GoodWorld: https://gdw.io/2200c3
Signing up via the following link will give you an additional free $10 to donate! If you are worried about attaching your credit card, they accept gift cards as well!

You can also donate via paypal (go here) if you would rather, or check. (made out to Project Esperanza, mailed to 1291 Valley Mill Rd. Winchester, VA 22602).

Today is Giving Tuesday, the biggest giving day of the year! Don’t be a grinch! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thanks always!

-The Project Esperanza Team

T-Shirts That CHANGE Everything


So the poor have HOPE and injustice shuts it mouth.

I was working at my desk when I heard a knock on the door. I turned and saw our second grade teacher. She had missed a few days of school this week because she was sick. Last week at the teacher meeting she had explained that she had strong pain behind her neck and was scheduled to get three injections, two of which she had already received. I was confused as to what her problem could be when she gave that explanation, and then additionally curious when she missed a few days the following week.

“I just came to let you know that registration has reopened.” She was talking about registration to the university where she is studying Education. I had accompanied her before but registration was closed when we went. So we planned to return.

“Do you feel better?” I asked.

“Yeah, I´m okay. I´m trying.”

“What was wrong with you?” She went on to talk about her neck pain and how severe it became in the past few days. She could barely move her head.

“What is it from?” I asked. She then told me that she had been injured several times on one side of the body and continued talking faster about the pain and her immobility. I interrupted her to ask about the injuries. She then quickly rattled off that she had broken this leg, caught a bullet in this hip, had a screw in this arm, and continued talking quickly.

I interrupted her again to ask about the bullet. She then told me about thieves running


Give as freely as you have been given.

away from police when she lived in Haiti. They were apparently firing shots as they ran away. She was in a public taxi and the driver was shot and killed. He fell on her chest. She didn´t realize she was shot at first. She then felt a burning sensation and found herself bleeding. Sometime in the midst of all of this, she saw that the thieves saw her so she laid on the ground and played dead until all of the commotion died down. She suspected that if she had not played dead, they could have killed her in order to save their identity.

Someone eventually took her to the hospital and she lay bleeding for a long time before she was attended to. As she lay there bleeding and unable to do anything, someone stole her shoes off of her feet. She was unable to stop him. One of the thieves was there laying close to her. He had been shot and ended up dying in her presence.

Wow! I expressed my surprise all along as she told the story with wide eyes, jaw dropped, and head shaking in disbelief. As far as the pain was concerned, I told her about my successful experience with chiropractice care, as well as the success of friends and family. I explained that pain can stem from a pinched nerve due to bones and vertebrae that are out of place. She asked if I knew where she could find a chiropractor and pricing. I did my best to inform her. She eventually praised God that the pain had subsided and said,

“God is going to get rid of this. I believe in prayer.”

“I do too,” I told her.

The story reminded me of a time when we were visiting my husband´s family in Port-au-Prince. I was getting my hair braided and a friend of the family came by. He let us know that he had just been robbed at gun point after receiving a much needed money transfer he had been waiting for. Others asked him if he hadn´t put up any sort of a fight. He replied with, “You don´t know how much of  a coward I am.” Everyone laughed. I did not laugh.  The story seemed to fade off into the other chit chat that was taking place and that was that.

I share this to portray the apparent desensitization to this sort of thing… or the extent to which people are used to this sort of thing in Haiti. (Desensitization may not be the best word, since people are obviously still sensitive to these things as it causes many to leave and sometimes fear returning). There was no “Did you go to the police?” or anything of that nature. It was more of an attitude of, “That´s too bad, man” or “That jerk got ya good!” I have heard Port-au-Prince referred to as the kidnapping capital of the world. I´m not saying it´s so dangerous that you should not visit, but…it is dangerous!

I have a point to sharing these depressing stories. One point is to give insight into the background of some of our teachers and students. The other is to explain why sometimes it seems like things may be advancing quite slowly. I´m not trying to say that all Haitians who have grown up in Haiti are emotionally traumatized, but I do actually think that a large percentage are. Many of our students and employees who have lived in Haiti share horrific stories: stories that make your eyes widen, your jaw drop, and your head shake.


Love is lovely…let it grow.

I think back to elementary school and the special ed. class that each grade level had. Some of the students in the class needed the special education because they were mentally handicapped or had learning disabilities, but some were there because they were emotionally traumatized. They also needed special attention and patience. They had reasons that kept them from advancing at the “normal” pace.

And we can relate to that. Our second grade teacher, for example, is an excellent teacher. She has a passion for teaching and takes initiative in doing special projects with little resources, like planting seeds so her kids can see how they grow. But we have had some issues with her use of violence and verbal humiliation for the purpose of discipline. I have not judged her because I know the challenges she was up against, as she previously taught a higher grade level. But we have worked with behavior charts, different forms of reward and punishment, and constructive phrases to use in the classroom. Examples of dysfunctionality with a background of trauma like this are plentiful and it can give insight into why certain progress may seem to take longer here.

But enough talk about the negative! Let´s think positive. Please take the time to check out GoodFruitDesigns, a business we set up to financially support Project Esperanza and to engage people in positive thinking. We are holding a design contest with the theme “Change”. All entries are due November 25, 2016. The winning design will be printed on t-shirts, sold, and the designer will receive a prize. Learn more and see current designs at: www.GoodFruitDesigns.

And if you would like to specifically help our second grade teacher with her health issues or her college education, please send us an e-mail at Info@EsperanzaMeansHope.org.

Thank you!



  1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alonebefunky-gfd-collage

Street Census Redone


It has been 10 years since we did the street census during the summer of 2006. Last year, we did it again. This graph shows some results. Read more about both censuses here.

Back to School 2016-2017


We have had another fun summer at English camp, making many new friends, hoping that we’ll see again one day! Some camp volunteers even did some modeling for our art shop website. Check it out!

Now it’s that time of year again. We’re hustling to get our floor finished, patch a tin roof, order books, create more storage space for donated rice, register students, and more! We know those of you studying, teaching, or with school age kids have your own back-to-school preparations.

In the 2015-2016 school year we had help from 90 sponsors who donated $100 for the year and were each paired with a student. (Actually, 90 students were sponsored but less than 90 individuals sponsored as some sponsored more than one.) Many sponsors sent bookbags, packages with stickers and such, or notecards to their students. Many students sent thank you notes to their sponsors as well, and one sponsor who visited was even able to obtain her sponsored child’s self portrait on a block of wood. Our program isn’t perfect and as most non-profits can tell you, we’re always short handed, run by volunteers and next-to-volunteers, but we try our best to facilitate the sponsor-student relationship and we truly appreciate those of you who participate.

With 200ish students, we fall short of meeting the needs. We know that with the amount of friends who visited this year, we can meet the goal of finding a sponsor for ALL of our students! If you can’t do it yourself, you can invite others to chip in to help you! E-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope.org for more information on starting a sponsorship or to renew your sponsorship.

And here is a recent blog post updating you on the school in Padre Granero. Thanks for following! 

New School Fundraiser!

Remember the fundraiser Project Esperanza held last spring for our new school building where we successfully raised $20K? We have launched phase 2 – a new fundraising campaign for our new school building in Padre Granero. Our goal is to raise $44,000 within 2 months! Same deal as last time – your $10 donation enters your name into an RCI time share points drawing. Your generous support is greatly appreciated! Here is the link to the fundraiser:https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/colegio-esperanza-a-new-haitian-dominican-school
Perks for Donating Include:
Putting your name in the mural at school
Having a classroom named after you
Christmas Ornaments
Christmas Cards

Your name can be put into this beautiful mural made out of sea glass!

Donate in a loved’s ones name and they will receive this Christmas card designed by one of our 5th grade students with an explanation of the donation.

Christmas ornaments made by group home members: $5 each. Made out of sea glass and coconut shells, they have a word in English on one side and in Haitian Creole on the other side.

Student sponsor update: We have 61 students sponsored so far. That leaves 139 of our students still in need of a sponsor! Please consider sponsoring a student as a Christmas gift this year!
E-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope to sponsor a student, buy Christmas ornaments, or make a donation in a loved ones name to receive the Christmas card.

Fall Updates from Project Esperanza

Greetings from Puerto Plata!

It’s been a while since this blog has been updated, so this is a brief summary of what Project Esperanza has been up this fall and summer:

A New Year in a New School Building!

Welcome back to school! We have started this year in our new and improved building in Padre Granero, thanks to all those who donated to make it possible.

We reached our $20K goal for the Indiegogo fundraiser last spring, thanks to many of you! However, that was just a chunk of what we need to raise to finish purchasing and rennovating the building. We worked hard all summer getting the floors and bathroom in shape, putting up classroom dividing walls, and much more! You can read about the progress here.

This year we have over 150 students in the new building in Padre Granero. In Munoz, there are right around 50 students. Classes are in full swing, and the kids are excited to be back!

We have 31 students sponsored so far this year. Sponsorship means a lot to our students and helps us to maintain our schools! If you would like to sponsor a student for $100/ year, please contact our sponsorship coordinator, Crystal at sponsor@esperanzameanshope.org.

Welcome Kati!

Kati Hinman has taken over as our volunteer coordinator this year. A recent grad from UC Berkeley, she is excited for this opportunity to live in the Dominican Republic and work with “such a fabulous team of people”. She’s also looking forward to helping coach soccer and all the mangos! If you have any questions about volunteer opportunities or what’s happening on the ground, please do not hesitate to contact her at volunteer@esperanzameanshope.org.

Fire in the Bateye

In June, a fire broke out in one of the three bateyes and burnt 62 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 Dewe Foundation to make school uniforms for the fire victims and are working on that currently. We continue to serve the community through the school, eco-construction projects, art shop, and are still fundraising to set up a cacao garden.

2015 Volunteer Challenge!

84 people have volunteered with Project Esperanza so far this year. When one volunteers with us, they meet those we serve and interact with them closely. But we hope that the relationship does not end there. Out of the 84 volunteers so far this year, 2 have sponsored students. 0 have come on board as monthly sponsors, although two already were. We rely on these contributions to do the work that we do. We would like to challenge each volunteer who leaves here to either become a sponsor or recruit a sponsor!Global Giving is matching re-occurring donations that are signed up for this week. Who is up for this challenge!?

Change my Stars Summer Camp

2015 was another successful summer for the Change my Stars English Immersion Camp! After 5 weeks of fun activities and games designed to improve their English skills, the 31 campers who participated in the research on average scored 44% higher on the post-test. You can see what they enjoyed in these graphics made by Ashley-Brooke Moses.

And last but certainly not least!


Ashley McKenzie, Kayla Jacobs, Ashley-Brooke Moses, Kiki Spiezio, Pace Academy Group, Reed Kennedy, Crystal Fox, Melissa Fancey, Berryville Baptist Rascals, Shanyce Campbell, Jessie Montana Cain, Faith, Hope, and Joy Foundation, and the Noel Family!

It means a lot to us to have volunteers donate their time and energy to our work. We appreciate all that you have done and we hope that you stay in touch and continue to support Project Esperanza!

Recycling trash into…a new school!

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If you have ever visited Puerto Plata, you have seen the beautiful blue beaches set against a backdrop of gorgeous green mountains speckled with tropical flowers and fruits of all kinds.  If you have been out of the tourist all-inclusive resorts, you have probably experienced all of this while also noticing piles of trash along side roads, in gutters, in people’s back yards, and marring those lovely beaches that nobody is paid to clean up daily. Because people often have to rely on bottled (or bagged) water to drink, because the negative aspects of littering are not emphasized, and because there is little infrastructure to deal with many things such as sanitation in the local community (and this could be a discussion for several blog posts  but is not the point of this one), the trash problem quickly gets out of hand!

Project Esperanza has found an exciting new way for the students we serve to help clean up their community and at the same time contribute toward the fundraising for the new, permanent school building they desperately need!

Students have been going out to collect bottles and cans, and when they have collected enough to fill a truck, they load up their recyclables and take them to a recycling center, a Recicladora, in Santiago where they are paid for their efforts!

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While the ability to fundraise in the Dominican Republic is limited, this is one way that the local community can be part of the work as we come together to raise the needed funds to purchase a place where our students can be educated and play safely!

This is also a potential project for short-term volunteers who could lead a group of volunteers and/or students in a day or several days of clean-up and recycling.

Along these same lines, if your state or province has a deposit on cans and bottles, a weekend bottle drive is a quick way to help us fundraise in solidarity with our students!  Sometimes Redemption Centers even add 1 cent for each can/bottle brought back when the money is being donated. Send us your photos to post on the blog and on Facebook!


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Some people have also started programs in schools to recycle a variety of objects…from trash to old electronics…in an effort to help PE fundraise! If that is something you think you can do, check out

Terracycle http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/ 

They, and other organizations like them, give money to charities like Project Esperanza for those enrolled in their recycling programs.

Look for updates about our recycling project on our recycling for Padre Granero Facebook page.

You can donate to our fundraising efforts for a new, permanent school!