Jan 17, 2018

Why we do what we do

Meet Michela!!!
Meet Michela!!!

There are many reasons why we do what we do at The Bienvenido Project. You could look at it from a mission stand point; to offer hope of a life beyond poverty to the youth in Bienvenido, or from an alturistic standpoint; to selflessly give to those most in need. But you can also look at it from the standpoint of the youth, and the difference it makes in their lives. Today, we want to share Michela's story with you. 

Michela is 6 years old, and known as a sweet, loving girl. She lives with her mom, step-dad, and two brothers, ages 1 and 4 years. Although Michela's Mom works very hard to provide for the family, they still live in extreme poverty. Aware of the need in this family, we have been able to help by providing Michela with a scholarship for school, as well as additional help with her clothing and shoes. 

Not long after the school year began, we found out that Michela had become very ill and was no longer able to attend school. When we went to the house to check on her, we found out a large part of this was because her and her 4-year-old brother did not have a bed and had been sleeping on the floor. We were able to bring her to the doctor, purchase the medication she needed, and provide a bed for the family.

We also learned that Michela had become the primary caregiver for her two younger brothers as a result of her no longer being in school. We were able to sit down with her parents and explain that the responsibility that had been placed on her was too much. Michela needed to get healthy again and return to school. The parents agreed to make the needed changes for her health. With our support, and in only a week’s time, Michela's smile returned. She has since been well enough to attend school and our program.

Without the help that came from The Bienvenido Project, Michela and her brother would have continued sleeping on the ground. She would not have the opportunity to attend school, she would have remained the primary caregiver for her younger siblings, and she would not have received the medical care she needed. Michela's mother and step-father also wouldn't have received the support and guidance they needed in learning how to best care for her and her siblings. 

Michela is why we do what we do, and she is just one of the hundreds of children we work with.

Thank you for helping us care for Michela! Thank you for making The Bienvenido Project possible!

Oct 25, 2017

Failing Forward

This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving’s 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn’t go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!

Four years ago, we began following a dream to ensure that all children in our program receive an education. In the Dominican Republic, public schools are free, but once the classes are full, they are full. And with only one small public school in the community of Bienvenido, many of the children in our program were being left outside the education system. Education is one of the biggest factors in determining one’s ability to climb out of poverty, and it had been our dream to offer this to all of our children for years.

In 2014, our scholarship program began with 26 children. We partnered with a local private school, and were offered a lowered tuition, paying only $125 for each child for a whole year of schooling. This is very little by American standards, but unimaginable for a family living in extreme poverty. So, we took it upon ourselves to raise the funds to send these children to school without any expense for the families. We had no idea that in doing this we were making a huge mistake.

As the year went on, the scholarship recipients began missing more and more school. We’d see the children out playing in the streets while they should be in class, and the parents always had an excuse: “Their uniform is dirty” or “They didn’t have a pencil to bring.” The excuses were never reasonable though, and we soon realized where we went wrong. By the parents having no stake in their child’s education they felt no responsibility for ensuring their child attended. In wanting to care well for these children, we had actually failed.

Thankfully, the story didn’t end here though. We recognized our mistake, and began implementing changes. We held a meeting and made it clear to the parents that in order for their children to remain a part of The Bienvenido Project, they must ensure their child attends school. We helped the families understand that others were making sacrifices for the benefit of their children, so the least they could do was sacrifice their own time to wash their child’s shirt or purchase a pencil. I wish I could tell you that in this moment every parent understood, but that’s not what happened. We had to make the hard decision to remove some of the children from our program. But not only did we learn from our mistakes, the parents learned from their mistakes as well. The following year they returned asking for us to give them another chance as they had come to see the value in their child being offered an education. Therefore, not only as a program, but also as a community, were we able to “fail forward”.

Thank you for believing in us and the community of Bienvenido even in the midst of learning from our mistakes. And thank you for giving the gift of an education to the children most in need. We’re in this together!

Sep 12, 2017

Back to School

This year's scholarship recipients & our Director!
This year's scholarship recipients & our Director!

School is now officially underway for the children in the Dominican Republic, and as part of our team, we would like to invite you to celebrate that all children in our program are enrolled in school! We had 37 children in need of scholarships, and we are happy to report that we have now received enough to cover all 37 scholarships. YOU played a huge role in making this possible, and on behalf of these children and their families, I want to thank you!

This is now our 4th year of providing scholarships, and in case you haven't already heard about why this is such an important function of the program, I want to take a moment to do so. Ever heard the saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?" Four years ago, it became apparent that if all we did was provide food for a child from ages 2 to 15, although we'd be doing a great service, we wouldn't be doing anything to prepare this child for life. Without being able to read or write, there would be little hope for a different future, and most likely we would end up with the next generation in the same place as their parents. Our goal, however, is to work towards breaking the cycle of poverty. Therefore, we made changes to mandate that all children who are a part of our program be enrolled in school, and we started the scholarship program to aid families who couldn't make this happen without aid. This offers hope for a different future!

Now that schooling is covered for the year, we will now be focusing on raising the needed funds for our feeding program. We are thrilled to share that in less than three months 25% of our current monthly food budget is now coming in through recurring donations made by YOU. We have been wowed by how quickly and generously you have respond to this need! If you are not already part of monthly support team, we'd like to extend an opportunity for you to do so on October 5th. On this day, we will be participating in a Bonus Day through GlobalGiving that will not only match your monthly donation 100% after 3 months, but also helps the project earn additional bonus funds. Joining our monthly support team on this day enables your donation to have an even greater impact, and help us reach our goal of being fully funded.

Until next time...

Lining up for a tasty lunch!
Lining up for a tasty lunch!
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