domingo, 28 de septiembre de 2014

A Summary of this Journey

Small white line next to the fibula is a finger-
nail scratch, not a tibia!
Here is an e-mail I just wrote to Tammie, a volunteer with Project Helping Hands, a medical group that comes here a few times a year. She visited Elisenia when she first came last year and has been supportive of her care ever since. I recently took Elisenia to get a new x-ray of her leg, where she is missing a tibia, and sent it to both Tammie and CURE International where we had consulted her in Santo Domingo in 2012. We now are planning on taking her again this month and they may do a surgery within the next five months or so! 

I am posting this e-mail because I gave a summary of the events with the kids and the mom over these past 3 years and since I mention the kids and the situation so much, I thought it might be good to share a summary.  

Hi Tammie, 

Thank you so much! :) I will talk to Adeline to see when we can take her down. I wish I could go and see the consultation in person but I don't think I can spare a day right now. Just wanted to give you the dates of when we took in Elisenia since you said we found them early last year. It was Nov. 2011 when we first found her being toted around by her sister who was 9, but very sick. She had just turned one. Her sister and other siblings were students in our school but had not attended that year because of family problems. The mom had been gone for three months at that time and the dad had gotten sick. The mom came back but Elisenia was in critical condition with pneumonia and malnutrition... picture attached of her and my daughter. My daughter was 4 mos. and Elisenia was a year.  So we had her in the hospital for weeks, volunteers and one of our staff members taking turns sleeping with her, and then moved her into a missionary house in Cabarete and she spent another month there. The guy holding my daughter is our staff member who was taking turns with volunteers staying with her in the hospital. Then we have had her since then but went through 2 caregivers before we found Adeline who cares well for her, just the facilities are not ideal. 

The mom was back at this time but her husband had just died and the brother, age 12, was refusing to go to school so we took him in since we work with boys from the streets and have special school efforts for them. This was Jan. 2012. We paid the house for them and got food for 3 months, which is what has been the rule of thumb for a woman when her husband dies if they're involved in our schools. The mom asked me for transportation money to go to Santiago and said she would come right back, she couldn't leave the kids. I was reluctant for her to even leave the kids for a day but she promised she would come right back. Then we didn't hear from her until she showed back up July 2014, so 2.5 years she was gone without a word. I had taken her to the AIDS clinic before, she knew she had it, but was embarrassed to get her meds! She said when she came back from Santiago she would start taking them. 

So when she left in Jan. 2012, her three others who were 5, 6, and 9, were alone and going from house to house in the batey. One man in the area who had volunteered some with Elisenia even set up an account for them at a colmado where they could get 100 pesos a day to make food. They finally settled somewhat, and we eventually took in the 5 year old girl. So we have Yenilove who is now 8, Junior who is now 15, and Elisenia is with Adeline and will be 4 on Nov. 2nd. Elideau who is 9 is with a family in Munoz, a Haitian woman who has a Canadian husband, and Alexandra who will be 12 in Dec. was with her godmother but was having a really hard time, her godmother has tons of kids, extremely poor, lives right on the road, and I was getting lots of reports of her being involved in really vulnerable situations. I planned to go take her to child services, who I had talked to about her lots before but I just couldn't take hearing those things anymore. I had made the decision that day that I went to that clinic with Helping Hands (July 8, 2014) that I would take her that same day and then the mom showed back up while we were in the clinic. So since then she has stayed with the mom. Her husband (who passed away)'s aunt is allowing the mom to stay in a room of hers in the batey. The mom at this point can't walk and is very thin. Alexandra goes to our school but she cleans clothes, cooks, and takes care of her mom. :( She is the one that breaks my heart most at this point but we couldn't take her in because we have a little group home with boys from the streets and she is a wanderer and the two wouldn't mix. Plus the godmother was adament that Alexandra wasn't going anywhere and many people began to question her motives... but right before the mom came back, she left her house and went to Haiti for a bit, which is when I had planned to take Alexandra to child services in hopes that they would put her in a home. 

So that's the story! This Nov. it will be 3 years since we've had Elisenia under our care. :) Thank you so much for helping her... early on a few people donated but since then there has been no success in fundraising for her except for you. I think I told you another nursing group that has started doing deworming in our schools every six months got a stroller and a nebulizer for her? The nebulizer has helped a ton. 

Thanks always, Caitlin

P.S. Junior lived in the group home during his first year, which is just down the road from us and from Adeline and Elisenia, and then when Yenilove moved in with us in Feb. 2013, he moved into our house too. I find this funny, but as soon as they both moved in, they started plucking white hairs out of my head! :) 

 Don't forget, if you want to support me and my work, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. If you want to use this method for gaining your own personal support to enable you to do similar work or to just supplement your family income, please e-mail me at Don't forget to read this book as well, and recommend it to others! If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

jueves, 18 de septiembre de 2014

What's Going on...

I had been planning on writing a post about the motorcycle accidents/incidences I have gotten into and my need and desire to buy a little three-wheeled vehicle, but in the craziness of end of camp, teacher training, and back to school, I haven’t had time to go to the dealer and take a picture of one of the cute little guys. So I must write about last night’s events, and then maybe that will be my next post.

Update 1: I passed the CA First Year Law School Exam (FYLSE) A.K.A. Baby Bar!!! On my first try!! It has a super low pass rate, (see here), so I am so very relieved to have passed and not have to leave my babies behind again and travel by myself. Leading up to the results, I had thoughts of, “If I don’t pass, I’ll just drop out,” because it was such a big deal to travel to LA to take the test. So now I can truly and freely envision a life as a lawyer! The Bar test I will take after I have already graduated, and that can keep me from practicing law, but it can’t keep me from being a lawyer.

So my plan as far as paying off student loans is to do the public service loan forgiveness plan. If I can start receiving a salary from Project Esperanza by the time I graduate, then as a 501c3, that should qualify me for the program. After 20 years of making consistent payments, the rest of my debt will be forgiven!! (I go back to this later on in this post in a less confident tone.)
Last day of camp.

Update 2: This summer was awesome because our volunteers were spectacular, Joanne was volunteer coordinator and went above and beyond expectations, and returning volunteers ended up coming at overlapping times so it was a big reunion/team effort/fun time. Crystal, EM, and Cole all three came within 36 hours of each other.

During these same 36 hours, another person came into town VERY unexpectedly. I was helping to organize a clinic in the school in Munoz when a woman in the community came to the door and told me that Zette had just showed up. Then the woman ran off. I took it with a grain of salt, not knowing if it was true, but then a few other people came and told me the same. Talk about confusion. In my last post, I mentioned how long she had been gone and how we had assumed she had passed away. People then started telling me that she wanted me to go see her. I didn’t know what to do. Jeres was translating for a station of medical volunteers and I scuddled over to him, told him the news and sobbed on his shoulder. He couldn’t go with me because he was translating. So I got myself together, then some medical volunteers asked me what was wrong and I sobbed again. I got my female comforting and talking in, and then went down to see her.  After caring for Ebo for five months, I made the decision that I would not foster a child for free anymore…I would only adopt. It was too hard for me to attach and unattach. And I treated Junior like a non-family member for a year until my heart softened for him and I treated him as my son. I watched Yenilove go from house to house for a year before I committed to taking her in, and as soon as I took her in, I didn’t plan on anyone ever taking her away.

I don’t want to take up too much time writing every detail of our conversation. Elideau and Alexandra were both already with her when I got the house she was sitting in. Alexandra was so happy to see her but Elideau looked like he didn’t know what to think. Ironically, that very day I had made the decision to take Alexandra to social services because I got nothing but bad reports of… well she wasn’t being watched and protected and her godmother she was living with left her and other kids and went to Haiti. I was set on it, and then Zette ironically showed up, which changed that.

She said she had been at “kay boko” which is a voodoo priest’s house in Artibonite. She said a friend took her there because she was sick. So I tried to take her to the AIDS clinic before she left, (January 2012), but she was embarrassed to go and asked for transportation to go to Santiago (one hour away) to go and come right back, which I gave her. Then we never saw her again. Now she returned and her explanation was that she was sick and was at a voodoo priest’s house (several hours away). I called Junior. He came and saw her for a few minutes and then said, “I want to go to my house.” I gave him transportation money and he went home. I got Yenilove from camp and then took her to see Zette. She was happy and sweet but… I didn’t feel threatened after the visit, despite the fact that Zette never thanked me and when questioned if she would take the kids, she said she would send all five to her aunt’s house in Haiti. I asked if she had been at her aunt’s house, her aunt who was capable and willing to take in five kids and she said no, she never did make it to her family’s house. I find it all a bit confusing.

So that’s that. I didn’t take Elisenia to see her, but promised to. That was before she started sending Gaddy and Nanie to ask me for money. On Yenilove’s birthday we took Elideau to get pizza and cake, which was Yenilove’s wishes. I visited with his
Yenilove's 8th birthday. 
caregiver, Vlidgitte, and she let me know that Zette had gone there complaining about a tooth ache and she gave her 500 pesos. I said, you are a good person. Because I didn’t plan on giving Zette any money. Then I started getting messages from Zette asking for help with her toothache. I haven’t gone to see her since. Alexandra let me know that Zette now smokes whereas she didn’t before as well. I don’t want to judge her, I just don’t necessarily want to help her, either. I feel like the only help I could provide her at this point would be transportation to go to the aunt she has in Haiti that is apparently willing to take in 5 kids. Maybe my heart will change over time, but I struggle to take care of her kids, so it’s not just that I don’t have a heart for it right now, but I don’t have the capability either.  She’s currently living with the aunt of her husband who passed away, Yenilove, Elisenia, and Elideau’s dad, but this aunt never took in the kids after Zette left, but let them be passed from house to house, and she even tried to get money from me through it all. I don’t want to judge her either, but just telling it like it is. She tried to get money from me because she said that the house Zette was renting that the kids continued to stay in after she left them, was hers, and she needed to be paid for the months Zette owed her for the kids staying there! With all of that said and done, she is a little old lady with a sweet disposition and sells good homemade peanut butter!

Now that I have updated about that, let me get onto last night’s events.

Wow! Once again I began a post and couldn’t come back to it to finish until weeks later. It is now September 18th. I wrote the above part on August 27th. So by this time, Zette ended up in the hospital for awhile and I visited her and helped her out a little more, whereas I was reluctant to at first when she was asking for funds.

The events I was going to write about was something that happened with Junior and school. He is doing really well, by the way, getting up and going to school, whereas last year he was quite a handful there, unfortunately. But a lot of it had to do with the fact that we couldn’t get him into morning school, and this year I did.

So I was helping him with his homework. When the teacher asks questions for him to find the answers by reading in the textbook, he needs a large amount of help.  I don’t mind helping him, but I don’t want to do it for him. This night he for some reason started insulting me as I searched for the answers, saying that I must not know what I was doing because I was taking a long time. I realized that his reason for insulting me must stem from his own lack of confidence, which he was projecting on me, but it made me mad nonetheless. I forget the full details of what followed, but it ended up in him threatening to rip up his books. I told him that if he ripped up his books he could go live in Munoz.  I guess I should note that his school and homework is in Spanish, but as we were exchanging such comments, we were speaking in Creole.
Teacher training 2014.

Sometimes when I take a step back, I realize that I have said something that I shouldn’t have, but I have to defend myself and my home and can’t let him run the show. Shortly after, he came with a ripped up book and threw it in the trash bag hanging on the doorknob. I told him to get his stuff together to go live in Munoz. He went and started packing all of his clothes in my suitcase that I let him store his clothes in. I reminded him that that was my suitcase and he wasn’t leaving the house with it. He argued that I had given it to him.

I went and shut the door in my room and sat imagining what would happen to him if he went to live in Munoz. How far we had come with him and school and how he would not go to school if he lived in Munoz..not to mention, he could get into bad stuff. But of course, I couldn’t let him be impossible and destructive either. A bit later he showed me that it wasn’t one of his new books he had ripped up, but one the public school had given him the last year and never asked for it back, True, he should have returned it and not ripped it up. But the point is, I hadn’t just bought it!  (FYI – Public schools supply books to students, but not always and not all of the books. But at private schools, students have to buy their own books.)

I was relieved that he had not ripped up his new schoolbooks. He then sat by me and asked, “How do you find the answers in the book?” This might sound like a lie to be cheesy, but it’s true. We had a breakthrough. So I talked to him about finding the keyword of the question and looking through the subtitles in the book to find where it’s talking about the keyword, and also about skimming. And when you find the right section, you just have to take the time and read it. We finished his homework with him making more of an effort. The next day he told me that 3 out of the 4 answers were wrong and I told him that I never studied Dominican history in school, but the answers we put looked good to me. J I can be more of a help with math and science, I suppose. But I enjoy learning more about Dominican history through it all.

So we didn’t get any help to pay for his schooling. So I’m paying for it through my student loans. We weren’t able to register him in the bilingual school I wanted to, but hopefully next year. The main reason is that he was in our grassroots school in Padre Granero in the afternoon last year, and did adult public school at night. That was the only spot I could find for him in the public school. So he had switched from the day system to the night adult system, and they wouldn’t let him switch back until after 8th grade because there is a national exam to pass that year. However, the school I did register him in guaranteed me that he could study there during the day, even if he was just now entering 8th grade.

I thought I explained the situation clearly and let them know that other schools said he could not switch from night to day, and they continued to guarantee me that he could, so I registered him. They let him begin even though I had forgotten his report card, and said I could bring it the next day. I did, and he came in uniform, complete with books. They called me that afternoon saying that there was a problem with his report card, and they were not sure he could study in the morning. I reminded them that I verified with them 3 times before registering him. They replied that they had thought I was asking about something else, about a process necessary when someone is switching countries. They put me on hold for a few weeks and then said they could let him stay in the morning. So by chance, I got him into morning school! But he’ll have to wait until next year to go to the bilingual school. Let’s hope he keeps doing well until then! I should note that the school he is going to this year is much less expensive than the bilingual school. 

So student loans… how will I pay them back? Will I move to the US to work? Well, there is a public service loan forgiveness plan I would like to take part in. It involves making monthly payments for 20 years and then having the rest forgiven. If you work for a non-profit, you should be eligible. So this would mean I would have to start taking out a salary from Project Esperanza when I graduate, paying consecutive loan payments, and then after 20 years, I would have them forgiven. But my mom keeps telling me
CONANI HQ in Santo Domingo.
not to rely on this and I am agreeing that I shouldn’t completely. (I am leaving this paragraph in here even though I have realized that I wrote about this at the beginning of the post, but just so you can see my change of tone.)

I went to Santo Domingo a few weeks ago to register an adoption agency. Hopefully things will go smoothly and I will be their in country coordinator. But we shall see.  CONANI said they will look over things and be in contact. I have never so much wanted to move to the US to work as I do now. But I don’t want to give up the work that I do here. I wish I could be compensated for it, if only to have the chance to buy a property and build a home some day, and to send my kids to the Montessori school I hope to, as well as to visit family in the US sometimes. I would also like to be able to send friends and family presents on special occasions. If I could run Project Esperanza, be coordinator for an adoption agency, grow and sell cacao, and write some books, that would be wonderful. Oh, and I want to home school my kids after 6th grade as well… Ilayas and Maraya that is. These are my dreams. I pray to God Almighty they will come true!! If they are within his will. And that yours will come true too, if they are within his will.

I almost forgot to mention that I had chikungunya, which is a mosquito born sickness that was taking over the country this summer. It causes lots of joint pain. I only had a fever for a day, but my feet still ache weeks later.

 Don't forget, if you want to support me and my work, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. If you want to use this method for gaining your own personal support to enable you to do similar work or to just supplement your family income, please e-mail me at Don't forget to read this book as well, and recommend it to others! If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

lunes, 12 de mayo de 2014

This Boy...

Junior in yellow and Enelbi (boys' home resident) in white doing the sack race at Field Day!

I have been wanting to write this post for awhile but have not been sure where to start. First, to get a bit of a background, go here. That is a long post about many things, but read what I wrote about Junior. He is now 14 and in seventh grade. No one has any contact with his biological mother and it sounds as though she has likely passed away, as she was sick with the same illness that killed her husband, and had avoided treatment before she left, but we can't actually know.

So, since today I feel quite anxious about the matter, I felt like it was time to write a post. It has been an emotional Mom week for me and I can't express the love that I have for my kids. I really just don't know what to say without sounding incredibly corny, and I'm sure that other parents know the feeling. I think I'm extra strung out because I am so busy with law school and this upcoming exam, (First Year Bar Exam - required because my program is online) so I am extra sensitive and the time I am spending away from them preparing for this exam is getting to me.

So I mentioned adoption in that post linked above. We are nowhere near that. We have spent this entire year working on their birth certificates. Did I mention that they have no documentation whatsoever? We've had to go several times to get their vaccines as they have no records. Their birth certificates has been a matter of running around to social services, the hospital, the court for children and adolescents, the office of the civil state, and then eventually a lawyer who says she can get the job done, but I'm still waiting. I know how much an adoption would cost, and we are nowhere near that either. I also mentioned possibly going to the US in that post, and it looks like we are nowhere near that either.
No! You just did the sack race. Let someone else have a chance!

So Junior... let me just say that he is not easy. I could tell hundreds of stories of the days we have surrounded him in the yard to force him to go to school, punished him for coming in late, and fought with him over homework assignments. But he also is smart, interested in animals, and helps out a lot with the younger kids. I could tell maybe 20 stories of times where God brought the right person into the scene when I was struggling with him. For example, one day we stopped the taxi on the side of the road where he was as we were heading to an activity in Padre Granero and he refused to get in. I got out of the taxi and started telling him to get in. Would I have to physically force him in the van or run after him down the street? These embarrassing potential scenarios enter into my mind but I have no choice. I can't just let him do whatever he wants. As I stepped out and started my attempt, around 10 Haitian men across the street observed his disobedience and all started yelling at him to get in the car. A few came over and helped me push him in. They saw it as someone with a chance (someone who loves him and wants the best for him who can also at least somewhat provide for him) and not respecting as he should. They shouted this at him and he stubbornly had no choice but to obey. The fact that this same scenario happened so many times and each time it was a different person or situation that forced him or led him to obey amazes me and proves God's hand over the situation to me.

Let me cut to the chase. I need help. I feel so scared for him. And I am scared for our family in general, but mostly for him and the track he will go down if I can't send him to a good school next year. I want him to go to a bilingual school that runs from 7:45am to 3pm. I want Yenilove to go there as well, and I want Ilayas and Maraya to go to a Montessori school. Public schools here.. .well... I'll just say that I tutored an eighth grader who didn't know which was land and which was water on a map or her times tables. I tutored a sixth grader who didn't know all of the letters of the alphabet. I taught at a bilingual school and those kids were sharp compared to public school kids. I tutored Montessori kids and they seemed like smart US students.

The school that I want him to go to, true, is not on the same path that he was on before entering into our lives. The bateyes in Muñoz are full of free boys who go to school when they want, play in the river, make toy cars, and as they get older, they quit school and many get into some criminal activity. Of course, the more freedom they have growing up, the more likely they are to get into criminal activity and this varies among the families there. 

When we took him in, he was 12 and he had apparently decided that he was done with school. We first took in his baby sister after volunteers found her in a horrible health state being cared for by their 9-year-old sister. Mom had gone to Haiti, and that's when their father/stepfather died. Mom came back, was widowed, and had huge debt. She couldn't care for the baby, so we kept her, and she then asked for help with Junior. She couldn't get him to go to school. But he was earning 100 pesos a day with a water truck and he was proud to be earning some income. 

And this was his attitude as a 12-year-old. This is what I have battled against for over two years now. "You are a kid. You need to go to school." And I think he is finally in the groove. Then their mom took off and we eventually took in Yenilove too. Two other siblings are with other families in Muñ with her godmother who swears she will never let anyone else take her. :) First, Junior lived in the boys' home which is a few houses down from ours, and then for various reasons, when Yenilove came to live with us, he moved in too. We threaten to send him back to the boys' home when he doesn't want to go to school and is ornery, and he says he wants to go back when we are nagging him a lot, but the truth is I won't let it happen.

So this private school is not the path he would normally go down, but now I am his mother and I have different standards. I have education standards similar to those I was given in public schools in VA and this private school is what would give him closest to that. I just don't have it in me to let him drop out of school and be surrounded by certain things and I feel that if he goes to the public school, those things are likely. He now goes to public school at night and Project Esperanza's school in Padre Granero in the afternoons. The problem here is that his mornings are free. It makes much more sense for him to get up and go to school in the mornings. The public night school is for adults and just two days a week, so I don't even call that school, and Project Esperanza's school is not yet accredited. He has made it to 7th in the public, Dominican school, which is accredited, so it makes the most sense to continue in the Dominican school system, (whereas our PE school follows the Haitian curriculum more so). But this past year I couldn't get him in any Dominican school during the day, and a lot of it had to do with his documentation.

So he is my biggest worry, mostly because of his past habits/path and the critical age he is at, but again, I also have hopes for the education of all of our kids and am worried as the next school year approaches, what will happen. I have never done a good job of raising personal support. In the church that I went to in college, staff members raised $30,000 a year to support themselves so they could do the church work. I haven't ever focused much on raising personal support because I have had to focus on fundraising for Project Esperanza. The most I have done is put a note at the end of blog posts on this blog. But it apparently isn't enough. I sent out a support letter this January, but it hasn't gotten any response. I have written to different churches and groups that support missionaries in the Dominican Republic with no luck. We live super duper minimally. We don't ever go to the movies (and there wasn't even a working movie theater anywhere around until a few months ago) or go on vacation or do anything but Project Esperanza stuff really. We don't have a vehicle, running water, a working refrigerator, an oven, or even currently any fans or air conditioning in our house... as we approach the hot months here in the Caribbean. Our house rent is $100 US a month and it is about the size of the average American's living room. We are a family of six. I'll stop there. I'm not miserable, and would rather gives my kids a good education and remain in this house than move into a bigger house or buy a vehicle...but would probably be able to save more money with my own vehicle if I send my kids to school in town next year. 

Can anyone help me to raise personal support? If you have experience or ideas, please share them with me. If you are going to tell me that I shouldn't take kids in and should take better care of myself and my biological kids, please don't. :) I can weigh and judge such things through prayer and reflection. 

I keep pushing.... well I'm not supposed to say the name of the company I think because they have restrictions on the ways they let their members advertise, but this online company. I have heard that the founder of Campus Crusades for Christ raised his support by getting people to use the visa card. It's the same as any other visa card, except I get points through it. If someone takes the time and effort, there are lots of ways a registered customer in this company can use it and support me through their use. It's not just their featured products, but they have many partner store as well. I got Project Esperanza's end of year reports printed through their partnership with Office Depot and earned points that way. I got our family support letter printed through vistaprint and got points. Anyone who subscribes to magazines can do so through them to help me earn points. There are many, many possibilities. But people don't seem willing to try it out. It's free to register as my customer. I thought that this would be easier and less intrusive than flat out asking for money, like a lot of people raising support do.

Also, I recently published a book. It is a collection of posts I wrote for La Vida Idealist blog before it shut down a few years ago. I published it through where it is for sale, and it should be distributed to Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and other sites very soon, (it is now in paperback.. waiting for e-book). I am hoping to earn some passive income this way and would love to publish more work, but need support through reviews and people suggesting others that they read it!

If anyone wants to just flat out send money for Junior's schooling, it looks like it will be around $1,800 for the year, and that includes books, uniform, and transportation. I would have him write to you and send you updates, of course, and can send receipts as well. :) 

So... thanks for reading... and PLEASE HEELLLPP!!! :) 


miércoles, 23 de abril de 2014

An E-Mail to My Mom

The subject of this e-mail was "last Ilayas update until after exam :)". I have to go to CA in late June to take the First Year Law School Bar Exam, so it's study hard time! But there's no time to study hard because I'm doing the second year material at the same time, which I am of course already behind on. Anyway, here is the e-mail. I am trying to do more of the short and sweet posts because there are so many updates to share but I seem to have the habit of waiting until I have a book to write, which lots of people, I know, don't have the attention span to read. And FYI, Ilayas is 4 and Yenilove is 7. 

Hi Mom, 

I need to really take this exam seriously now so one last Ilayas update until after the exam is over. :)

He just came in and said, I wish Yenilove wasn't here because she's stronger than me.

I told him that it's good when we have people stronger than us because it makes us stronger and makes us grow. I talked a little more and then he said, actually, I don't think she's stronger than me. I told him one day he would be bigger and stronger than her because boys get bigger and stronger than girls. Haha. 

Oh, I have to show you this one in person. But he asked me in front of her if Yenilove's parents died from a monster. And when he said monster he put his hands out like claws and growled, LOL. She looked a little annoyed but kind of amused because I couldn't help but to laugh. I said no they were sick and then God gave her to us. He said, "Okay," and she smiled. 

Love you, Caitlin

Don't forget, if you want to support this humanitarian/missionary/social activist, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. I do not receive a salary for running Project Esperanza so it is necessary to try to raise support in some way to be able to continue to dedicate the necessary time to it. If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

martes, 15 de abril de 2014

Ak Blan Ou Ye?

Last week we had chiropractors visit with a group called Chiro Mission. On Friday and Saturday we led them to the schools and communities where they consulted and adjusted, and also some helped out with our shoe box solar oven activities. During lunch on Saturday, Amanda took them to where they eat, and I went with Ilayas, Yenilove, and Maraya to La Sirena to get hot dogs for the solar oven testing activity we were doing in Padre Granero in the afternoon. Afterwards, we walked from La Sirena to the road where we can catch the PB taxi that goes into Padre Granero. We waited forever and I felt constant stress standing on the side of the road with three squirrely little ones. 

As we waited, a Skim Ice vendor passed by. Skim Ice is like a freezie pop. They wear brightly colored jump suits with sometimes a penguin on them and push a big cyllinder that contains their treats they sell. My kids always want one when they see one and started begging. 

As he came near he noticed Yenilove's Haitian appearance mixed in with my mixed kids and white self and said to her, "Ak blan ou ye?" She just looked at him and didn't answer so I interjected. This Creole phrase he said means, "Are you with ´white`"? Blan is what Haitians refer to foreigners... even dark-skinned ones. 

"Is she with blan?" I asked. He stared at me surprised that I understood his Creole. I went on to tell him, "If you see a child and an adult, you have to talk to the adult, you can't just start talking to the child." He said okay. I then apologized for my sharpness and let him know that we had been waiting for 15 minutes or so for a carrito PB and none had passed yet. Then we of course bought Skim Ices, he said thank you, and went on his way. 

The other day we were buying peanut butter from someone in the batey in Muñoz... the batey where Junior, Yenilove, and Elisenia used to live before their family fell apart. Their sister Alexandra AKA Chi Chi still lives in the batey with her godmother and another brother Elideau lives up the road with a kind family. As we waited for the woman to fill the jars of peanut butter, Alexandra told Yenilove that a man was calling her in the corridor. I looked and saw a man standing a distance away looking over at us. I called over to him and told him that he should come here rather than calling her over there. So he came and asked her how she was doing and some questions she didn't answer but looked to me and I answered for her. Then he left. Sometimes people here do sketchy things and... they don't actually know that it's sketchy or why it's sketchy so you can't blame them but just let them know that... you don't feel comfortable with it. 

I find Yenilove to be extremely clingy. I am not complaining, just observing. I don't know if this is a coincidence or a reality but the girls in our family... I am constantly almost tripping over them as I try to go from one crowded space to another in the house because they like to be right there with me, whereas the boys like attention and to visit, but they sort of check in and then go and do their own thing. It makes me laugh. Yenilove especially feels concerned about knowing my every move and is always asking a day ahead if I will go anywhere the next day, where I will go, etc. In the busyness of life I get annoyed and impatient with her and the fact that she is making me feel "micromanaged", but she said something the other day that interrupted my busyness and reminded me why she does that. 

She came and hugged me and said, "I love you Mommy." I told her that I love her too. She then said, "I don't want you to die." I assured her that I wasn't going to die and she looked at me like she wasn't sure. I assured her again. Tears. The things some little ones go through. The Lord "gathers his lambs in his arms, comforts them, and carries them close to his heart". From a favorite song we used to sing at church growing up. 

Don't forget, if you want to support this humanitarian/missionary/social activist, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. I do not receive a salary for running Project Esperanza so it is necessary to try to raise support in some way to be able to continue to dedicate the necessary time to it. If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

viernes, 28 de marzo de 2014

Songs From Looong Ago

In the fall of 2007 I wrote 3 songs. I sang them for two friends, Kristin and Nathaniel, who I used to sing worship songs with sometimes in Blacksburg. Nathaniel plays the guitar and wanted to work with the songs on his guitar, so I recorded two of them and e-mailed them to Nathaniel. The third was written in my notebook that got lost when I left it in a suitcase in a taxi in the Dominican Republic. I have some parts of it in my head, but it is lost. The other two I found the e-mail I had sent to Nathaniel, and listened to them. 

So I think a lot of how I envisioned my future was tied up with the man I would marry. I can hear some of my independent female friends gagging at that, but it's true. In 2006, I wrote this poem when I found out that I would not marry the American man I had thought I would, toiled over it, and toiled over God and life in general. 

In 2007, I wrote these songs as I began envisioning a future with Jeres and Project Esperanza. I entered into a life that was so different than I had envisioned throughout childhood, so different than what my family had envisioned for me, and I don't know that anything could've held me back... or nothing did at least. So I will share these songs with you. I don't know if they are good or they are not good.. but they represented my heart at that time... fall 2007. 

Let's Go Find a Place: 



Don't forget, if you want to support this humanitarian/missionary/social activist, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. I do not receive a salary for running Project Esperanza so it is necessary to try to raise support in some way to be able to continue to dedicate the necessary time to it. If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

domingo, 2 de marzo de 2014

On Time Another Month!

So I am happy to announce that this school year we have a pretty perfect record as far as paying teachers on time! Thank the Lord! This fundraising has been a problem ever since late 2008, and now we are back on track it seems! Also, thanks to the start up help of Project Esperanza's mom, named Larissa, we have an "office" in town... just a tiny room with a tiny bathroom, one block from the Malecon and ocean and one large block from La Sirena, the Wal-Mart. This post is a picture explanation of the office and of the way we record teacher attendance and pay teachers each month. So nothing too exciting about directly helping kids, but the behind the scenes stuff that goes on to make it possible that we help kids. 

So this was our bedroom/office. It was taken from the doorway so this is the entirety of the room, and it is the bigger of the two bedrooms in our house. Jeres, Ilayas, Maraya, and I sleep here and Yenilove and Junior in the other room. To get an idea of the whole house, read the No More Mrs. Nice Guy post and then imagine that two more kids moved in a month later. :) This is the picture that I sent to Larissa when I requested her help in renting a small office space in town. Plus, a volunteer placement organization that visited in August shared some critiques of Project Esperanza as far as it's predicted ability to be able to accommodate a higher amount of volunteers, and one was that we had no office in town. The hopes are that the cost of renting this new space will be offset by volunteer trip fees. 

Here is our new little office. If you want to send something or stop by, the address is Calle Vista Alegre No. 9, Puerto Plata, Republica Dominicana. 

This picture is taken in front of a business two houses down from the office. If you look hard, you can see the clear blue ocean water. I didn't take a picture looking to the right, but it's a shady, quiet street, one block down from a main street passing through town, full of businesses. It's right by the police station, soccer field, and sports complex in town. It's also a short walk from the Montesorri school I would love to send Ilayas and Maraya to next year. Walking down this shady street, I feel like I could be in Winchester, Virginia. And I thank God for this location, as there are so many streets that are very busy, or too sunny, or too noisy, but I do feel like this is just right. 

This photo is taken across the street from the office. If you peek through those trees, you can see the large yellow building that is La Sirena. If you don't know, La Sirena is the closest thing we have to a Wal-Mart. You can get most things there. 

La Sirena had some great sales on Friday! We are preparing to start doing school meals in Padre Granero, as we have some donated food items we can't let go to waste! I add in that part because, we don't actually have any extra funds available to do it, but are trying to get it going! And although this office is so close and convenient to store such things, I have to remember that when alone, not to buy more than I can carry back. 

To the right when you walk in the door. Want to put in some shelves along the upper parts of the walls to store the soccer jerseys and such.

This is what is left over after making shoe box solar ovens. I once asked Luckner to go find some boxes so we could ship items for the online art shop and he came back saying he couldn't find any. I can't wait to see him again so I can show him this picture, and pictures from the solar oven activities! I went all around Puerto Plata and found over 60 boxes! So these leftovers can be used for more solar ovens or art shipments. Again, we need some shelves! And you see that big barrel? Those are items, mostly clothes, that we use as bingo prizes, donated by Martine in New York City. Those are tamper free barrels that cost $150 to ship, no matter the weight! E-mail Cole at if you would like to give her any items to ship down in the next shipment. 

And just the view from the other corner of the room. That green suitcase is full of antibiotics donated by the last Helping Hands medical group that was here. If you look in the first picture in this post of our room, it was right by our bed. Not ideal for a house with toddlers! And we now have two sewing machines, hoping to do more classes in both Padre Granero and Munoz. The boys voted to learn mechanics next, if we can get that together for the summer. I mention this because they are the only ones who have done a 3 month courts on the first machine we had. But Isuna in the art shop has used it some too. 

Tiny bathroom door...

To the tiny bathroom. I really wish it just didn't have a shower. But maybe it will get used and water will get all over the place or we will somehow rig up a shower curtain to go around the little corner...

And now our bedroom looks more like a bedroom, with a little tiny home desk. :) Now, a look at paying teachers....

Teachers sign every day when they arrive at school, put their time, and the time when they leave. The director initials to verify that what they wrote is correct. At the end of the month, the director gives me these pages. 

I make a little slip to summarize the days of school that month, the excused absences of the teacher, unexcused absences, and total minutes late. 

Each slip and the money goes into each teacher/employee's envelope. 

No checks for us yet. That would require there being money in a bank account when in reality, I spent two hours Saturday night first waiting in a horrific line at Western Union, (which is in La Sirena, so close!), then being told that the transfer number was not bringing anything up, then going to an internet center to look it back up and finding that I had copied it correctly, then calling my mom who handles the orgnaization's funds in the US, then her calling Western Union and answering some questions and then releasing it. I gave up and went home, then went back Saturday morning. And this was just for half of the funds. The other half were sent Xoom. Sending too much through one method often makes them hold it up longer. 

This is the pay sheet (from a previous month as you see it is already signed) that I give to each school director to distribute the envelopes and have everyone sign and date and then give the signed sheet back to me. 

And then everything goes in one envelope, to the director. Yesterday when I did this, I called both directors to invite them to the new office space and to pick up the envelopes, but didn't get a hold of them, gave up, and went home. They both called me back and ended up coming to my house later, which is another reason why I desperately wanted the office space, to make the home a more private space! But at the same time, I do value them as friends. And I'll show them the space another time. I took a picture of Madame Judith receiving the Munoz manila envelope but she didn't want me to post it on the Internet because she didn't like her appearance. 

And that is the system we have down to pay teachers! We have had directors in the past (one) that have more access to internet and are more computer savvy and they enter the teacher sign in and also student attendance into a shared Google Drive doc, but for now, we are all on paper. 

And thank you for reading! 

Don't forget, if you want to support this humanitarian/missionary/social activist, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. I do not receive a salary for running Project Esperanza so it is necessary to try to raise support in some way to be able to continue to dedicate the necessary time to it. If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless!