In December, 2016 HOPe members Billy O’Sullivan and Paul Greene visited the new Dominican Republic school project located in the town of Cofembar, just outside Puerto Plata.
The school is the sole source of education for approximately 75 local children, most of Haitian decent. The majority of these children lost their parents in the recent Haitian earthquake, and migrated to this area to live with family members here.
Hope has funded several initiatives here, the most current being:
Renovation of proper bathrooms for the boys and girls
Conversion of a little used storage room into a third classroom
Purchase of new chairs, desks, blackboards, etc for the classrooms
Repair of the perimeter fencing
This area had been hard hit by unprecedented, non-stop rains for the previous 5 weeks. The rains had caused tremendous flooding to the area. It had also caused the school administrators to put the above renovation projects on hold, until the weather has stabilized, not wanting any new work to be damaged.
This type of rain is extremely uncommon to this area. They do not anticipate flooding problems approaching this magnitude in the future.
They are now planning to start the work when Brad Munn (the project director) returns, the first week of March, 2017. Brad wants to oversee the work, and ensure that the funding is used efficiently.
The rains made it impossible to visit our other Dominican Republic project, the orphanage, located further west in the town of Cabia, as roads were impassable.
This area has had a long history of flooding, as there is a nearby river that frequently overflows. This problem has become so common and so severe that there is now a formal plan to relocate the orphanage and the children to a new location, just outside Sosua, about 30 minutes outside Puerto Plata.
There are two new local project directors that we met, Manon and Diony, who are extremely dedicated to these projects.
Manon is a Canadian businesswoman, who has bought a local restaurant in Sosua. It is her plan to relocate the orphanage dormitories (known as Safe-T-Homes) to a new parcel of land that she is buying (with her own personal money) outside Sosua. She intends to offer restaurant training to any of the interested orphans, including cooking, management and operation skills. This job training would pay the children nominal wages, and provide them with employment skills. She further plans to use restaurant profits to further fund the school and orphanage.
Hope funding earmarked at raising the dormitories to avoid flooding has now been placed on hold, as they have concluded that the long term solution is to relocate the facility. They are now planning to use that funding to relocate the Safe-T-Home dormitories to the new permanent location.
They anticipate further funding needs for the orphanage relocation project. They are hopeful that both HOPe and Brides of HOPe, another charitable organization highly involved with their work will both be sources for the funding of this relocation.
However, it is simply too early in the project development phase for them to able to provide meaningful cost estimates. We will of course review those plans and budgets upon receipt.