High School Success

Monday, August 7th, 2017 and is filed under Uncategorized

Over the last 6 years we have been working in the community of Caraballo.  Caraballo is a community of 1300 people living in the middle of the sugar cane fields, 4 miles from the closest town. The community existed to work in the sugar cane fields. However in 2003 the sugar cane company went bankrupt, leaving a large percentage of the population without a job.  Having little to no education and little to no skills, other the cutting cane, this community was left in a state of extreme poverty.

When we arrived in Caraballo, we decided to make it our goal to eliminate all the reasons why people in the community struggle to find a job.

We discovered that the main reason why people cannot find work is lack of education and a lack of skills.

2014 we conducted our first community census and discovered that only 41 people had graduated high school. So 6 years ago we started to eliminate all the reasons why children cannot go to school, and we developed a plan to keep them in school for as long as possible.

There were several reasons why it was difficult to go to school and we began to work at eliminating these reason.

  1. Documentation.  Many children born in the community were born to Haitian parents. Their parents did not have the proper documentation to live in the Dominican Republic, and as a result their children were not given a birth certificate. Without a birth certificate, children are not allowed to go to school after grade 8. In 2015 the Dominican Government made it possible for all those born in the Dominican who did not have birth certificates to obtain their birth certificates. It was a huge project to undertake, but we were able to provide birth certificates to 98% of the children who did not have one. By accomplishing this, we have now made it so that all but a few children can legally go to school and finish school.
  1. School Uniforms. All students are required to have a school uniform to go to school. Although the uniforms are not extremely expensive, for families who live on less then $1 a day, the uniforms make it impossible to send their children to school. For the last 3 years, we have been raising money to buy uniforms for as many children as possible.  As a result of our efforts, we now have 95% of children between the ages of 5 and 18 in school.
  1. School Transport. High school students and adults are required to go to school in a town called Montellano, which is 4 miles away. Individual transport to and from school is expensive.  This is when most students drop out of school. We offer school transport both for the day time students and the night time students. As a result of providing transport, we will be providing over 150 high school students a way to get to school everyday. Now let´s remember, in 2014 only 41 people in the entire community had ever graduated high school.
  1. University. Last year we started a university program.  We are helping students continue their education after they graduate high school. Currently we are supporting 11 students, who have all shown diligence in their studies and leadership in their community.

Now, because our Stay In School Program has become so successful, and more children are going to school now then ever before, and because we have more students in high school then ever before, our community has now become a problem that the government needs to solve. The problem is, we have too many students in high school and there is not enough room.

So here is the exciting news!  The government has decided to allow the private school in Ascension to become accredited, which means they will be governement recognized. School for all students will now be full time in both Caraballo and Ascension.  The governement has decided that they will help as many students as they can with school uniforms to ensure that all students will continue to go to school.

CCP04573Now this decision, and the direction the governement is going in, is a work in progress and they asked Go MAD for our help.

  1. In order for the school in Caraballo to become full time they would need one more class room built.  So we said that we would do it, and on July 15, 2017 we completed the classroom and the school is ready.
  1. In order for the school to become full time the governement will need to provide a lunch every day. The governement will not be able to go to full time schooling until they have figured out the lunches. Because we already have a food program for the students, we have agreed to provide the lunches for the students for 2 months until the governement has worked things out.

So here is what is going to be even more exciting.  Because we have so many students now going to high school, the Governement has committed that by 2019, the private school in Ascension will be for all students Kindergarden to grade 6, and the public school in Caraballo will be from grade 7 to grade 12.  Which means, Caraballo and Ascension will have THEIR OWN HIGH SCHOOL! In a span of 5 years this community will go from only having 41 people that had graduated from high school to having their own high school. That is making a difference!

Our goal was to keep everyone in school for as long as possible, and with your help that goal is being accomplished. Because this goal is being accomplished, the government is now looking at Caraballo for the first time and working towards meeting the needs that exist in the community.

God is good!

– Megan Ratnam, Country Director

You can support Go MAD’s education programs by clicking HERE and choosing Children’s Education in the Select a Fund dropdown box.

Investing in the Lives of Girls

Monday, August 7th, 2017 and is filed under Uncategorized

In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low saw a need. She realized that young girls all over the world were suffering from lack of opportunity. Young girls lacked confidence. In this time, women didn’t even have the right to vote. She realized there was a need to prepare girls for the world by giving them courage, confidence, and character. This almost deaf 51-year old saw a need, and she decided she would try to do something. She wanted to make a difference. This is how the Girl Scouts began.

Girl Scouts go camping, hiking, etc. and you can get a badge for just about anything. (I got one once for “learning how to sew”). But most importantly, they are helpers wherever they go and seek to improve whatever corner of the world they are in. Today, there are around 2.6 million Girl Scouts across the globe in over 90 countries. They have almost 60 million alumnae, and have a dedicated mission to make the world better for the next generation of girls.

So why am I telling you about the Girl Scouts? Because I was one when I was a kid. One of my greatest mentors was my GS leader. There isn’t a program quite like the Girl Scouts in any of the communities that we serve. In fact, there isn’t a group that works with young girls at all. So, staying true to our mission—we want to make a difference in these girls’ lives and give them purpose.

CCP04816Since school is out for the summer, the kids have a lot of free time. And our two amazing pre-school teachers are taking this opportunity to pour into young girls. Elizabeth re-started our girls’ program in Canta la Rana a few weeks ago. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Elizabeth opens the school to the young girls in our community to make bracelets, sew, and ultimately build relationships. Ester is doing an amazing job with her girls’ program in Muñoz. She has a group of about 12-15 girls that meet twice a week. Ester teaches them Christian songs and they sing together. She is teaching them to make bracelets, hair bows, and reading the Bible to them. She’s created a community that can love and trust one another and lift each other up.

Not only do these programs give the girls in our community something to do besides roam the streets, it is teaching them life skills that they can use forever. More importantly, Elizabeth and Ester are investing in the lives of the girls they are meeting with. They are mentors, leaders, teachers, and friends. In order to make the next generation better, we have to start with this one.

What are some things you can do in your corner of the world to help? What hurdles, like almost being deaf, are you having to overcome to make a difference. Girl Scouts all over the world in 92 countries make a difference daily because one woman cared enough to invest in the girls of the future. I have a good friend Brad that always tells people to “be the person that you needed when you were a kid.” I’m excited to be working in a community of people that are doing just that.

– Bonnie Smith, Community Coordinator

You can support the Girls Program by becoming a Sponsor. Click HERE and select Protect a Girl to learn more.