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.

A Life of Significance

Monday, April 24th, 2017 and is filed under Uncategorized

Are you living a life of significance? Are you striving to be more than you are today? Are you living for a cause that is much bigger than you are? If not, you need to be!

You need to be involved in something so much bigger than you, that you are constantly overwhelmed and in need of God’s help. That is where Renee and I found ourselves when we started Go MAD, and that is where we find ourselves today. I feel like I have gotten to do some pretty cool things in my life, but nothing compares to constantly pushing the envelope for God to the point of complete reliance on God to pull it off.

For me, Go MAD is more than the name of a ministry. It is a state of mind. It is making the decision to be different than the majority of people in the world. It is about being able to say on your death bed, “No regrets baby, because I left it all on the field. I finished the race.”

I love the story of Nehemiah. If you have never read the book of Nehemiah, I would encourage you to do so. He was a passionate, “all-in” type of leader. God placed a burden in his heart so powerful, that it drove him to his knees in grief. I see this happen to people all the time, but it was what he did next that was most important. After Nehemiah went to his knees weeping and praying, he stood up and took action. Many people’s hearts break for the injustices of the world, but few stand up and take action. God is looking for people willing to open their hearts to be broken for those things that breaks His, and for those people that will then stand and take action.

If you do not have anything in your life like that yet, let me invite you to join our passionate cause, to Go MAD with us, and be part of a movement that is making a difference in lives. You can click HERE for more information on getting involved. I can say with 100% confidence that no matter your background, giftings, talents or skills, we could use your help. It might even be in a way that you have not yet considered.

If I can help you in any way to live a life of significance, please do not hesitate to contact me directly HERE.

-Chantz Cutts, Executive Director

New School Building

Monday, April 24th, 2017 and is filed under Uncategorized

DSC001543A wise mentor of mine once told me, “Comfort is the enemy of progress.” The older I get, the more I find truth in this statement. When we’re comfortable, we don’t really look for alternatives to make things better. We don’t want to go through learning curves and put in the effort of growing. There’s this verse in Deuteronomy 1:6 where I feel like God was telling this to his chosen people. They’d been escaping Egypt and wondering around for over 40 years, and the time had come to go in and take the land the Lord had prepared for them. But they were comfortable. You see, they’d set up camp in Horeb and were waiting for the right time to go down. But God never intended for them to settle down. He wanted them to go in and take what was rightfully theirs. Here in this verse, God tells them, “You have stayed at this mountain long enough, turn and set your journey.” God knew that if they got too comfortable, they’d never fulfill his wonderful plan for them.

One of the things I love about our Go MAD team is that my teammates are constantly looking for ways to get out of their comfort zone and seek progress. In my short time with this crew, we have seen so much growth in our little community of Islabon/Canta de Rana. It’s been incredible to watch.

In case you didn’t know, due to circumstances beyond Go MAD’s control, we were forced to move our entire project for the Islabon area into a new location. This can be such a burden and stress. You’re not only shifting a lot of stuff around, but you’re asking the community to re-familiarize. You have new neighbors. The kids have to find alternate transportation at times to make the new trek to school. It can be draining. To make matters even worse, just weeks after the big move the entire property flooded and was covered in about a foot of mud. Not only did things get ruined, it left a huge mess behind.

It’s times like this where God shows out and delivers. We had four amazing teams come down to help us. I can’t put into words how encouraging it was to meet complete strangers who are willing to put in so much time and energy and help turn this new Go MAD property into a home for our ministry! These fellow Christians share the same love of our risen Savior and have a desire to serve others. Things progressed so quickly, it’s hard to believe I’ve only been working in this community for 3 months!

When Callie and I began working here in late January, the school was meeting in the small apartment on the property. There were so many electricity problems that the school had been functioning without it for weeks. The clinic was closed due to flood damage, the buildings were bright pink (we could have easily passed as a product endorsement for Pepto-Bismol), the water pump didn’t work to bring water into the property, the school building was in shambles, and there was a huge mess left behind from the mud and the flood!

DSC001573Well not anymore!! Our property is clean as a whistle! The electricity is working great. The water works fine, the buildings are beautiful and newly painted, our clinic is up and running and our school building is finished! That’s right, we were able to meet in our new school building this week! We re-purposed some things that got ruined in the flood and made desks, chalk boards, and curtains. We have a new roof and floor! And thanks to some awesome team members, it’s beautifully painted and the kids even have a new playground! It’s been absolutely amazing to watch it all come together!

Our staff is so grateful to all of you that came down and put in the sweat to make all of these dreams a reality. By having everything cleaned out and functioning, it gives us the opportunity to not get comfortable, but use this property to its potential. Starting next week, we’ll be having bible studies at our house 3 times a week. Two devotionals will be for the local kids in the community, and one will be for the women. We’re excited to see what God has in store.

Are you sitting on Mount Horeb waiting for an opportunity to go into the promise God has for you? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

You’ve been on this mountain long enough, Go Make A Difference!

– Bonnie Smith, Community Coordinator

New Clinic Open

Monday, April 24th, 2017 and is filed under Uncategorized

IMG_08063The closest free medical clinic for the families living in Caraballo and Ascension is 4 miles away in the town of Montelleno. Transportation is expensive, and with families already struggling to get through each day, medical is something that families just can’t afford to get to, and medication is near impossible to buy.

It has been 4 years since Caraballo and Ascension have received proper consistent medical care. Over these years I have seen children struggle with infections, common colds and fungus issues.  As well as Seniors struggling daily with high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes. For you and I these issues are easily manageable, but families living in this area simply do not have the means to go to the hospital or purchase the medication.

I am so excited that we now have a weekly Medical Clinic for the people of Ascension and Caraballo. It is amazing to already see the change in the community in just 4 short months. David is a 7-year-old boy who had suffered with a hernia for 3 years. Nurse Ana was able to connect us to a surgeon, so after suffering for years, little David is no longer in pain and his parents are so thankful. Jeanne is a senior who has struggled with high blood pressure and asthma.  Rarely did she have a day where she was not suffering. Today Jeanne is excited and looks forward to Tuesday’s medical clinics. She is no longer suffering and her smile is amazing.

Dr. Katz is a fantastic doctor who spends time with each patient, listening and caring for their needs.  Dr. Katz checks all the babies monthly to make sure they are healthy and growing. Nurse Ana is amazing. Not only does she get everything ready for the patients to meet with the doctor, but while they are waiting, she takes time to educate the patients and parents on their health care and the care of their children.

I want to thank everyone involved in bringing medical care to Ascension and Caraballo. You are making a difference in people’s lives.

– Megan Ratnam, Country Director

Rain Rain Go Away

Friday, December 2nd, 2016 and is filed under Uncategorized

15032746_1321660144534195_4102111859687757121_nThe North Coast of the Dominican Republic has been hit with massive flooding during the month of November. Now while you usually hear of a particular day when there is talk of flooding, this has literally been all throughout the month of November. I do not believe that there was a 24 period through the whole month that did not receive at least some rain. This has had us saying, “rain rain go away, come again another day…no another month”.

Now flooding that brings feet, not inches but feet, of muddy water into people’s homes and businesses is always going to be very difficult. When you are talking about people that have very little to start with, and make very little money, it is devastating. We are working to provide assistance as we can in the form of temporary housing, food, medical treatment and emotional comfort.

We as a ministry were also hit by the flooding with two of our properties receiving damage. One was severe and cost us thousands of dollars in equipment and supplies. Having to replace so much while at the same time trying to help those in need is taking a toll on Go MAD’s finances. While we always do our best to have operational reserves, this is going well beyond this amount.

15069135_1326629084037301_6937455223862848117_oAs always, we do what we can with what we have. If you would consider making a special donation to assist with the flood relief efforts we would appreciate it. You can do so by clicking here and choosing “where needed most” from the drop down box. We would also ask that you pray for those affected and pray for our staff as they attempt to comfort so many that are hurting during this time.

Growing and Changing

Friday, December 2nd, 2016 and is filed under Uncategorized

15068381_1324023437631199_8071619311844424729_oIt has been said that if you are not changing, you are not growing. I believe this to be true. To grow personally we must continually, seek to learn, challenge our beliefs, stretch our abilities, analyze how we do things, etc. In other words, we must be in a continual state of change.

I also believe this to be true for us as an organization. If we are not continuing to change by continuing to refine how we do things, by continuing to challenge our beliefs in how best to serve, by continuing to listen to ideas and learn, then we are not growing. If we are not growing as an organization, then we are not improving our ability to serve those in need. Go MAD does however want to always look for ways to improve on our ability to serve, therefore you will see several announcements over the coming months of changes that are driving growth.

Today, I am very excited to share two with you. The move of Megan Ratnam from Community Coordinator to Country Director and the additions of Bonnie Smith and Callie Clyde as Community Coordinators.

Megan is originally from Ontario, Canada, but has been living, along with her husband Travis, in the Dominican Republic since 2011. She has a BA from The University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Divinity from McMaster Divinity College. Megan has spent the last year serving with Go MAD as our Community Coordinator for the village of Ascension. She has done an amazing job there and we look forward to her expanding that work into the other communities that we serve.
14947563_953818095239_1490816777708984904_nBonnie is originally from Alabama and Callie is from Texas. Both have been living and serving in Cabrera in the Dominican Republic. Bonnie received her BA from Freed-Hardeman University and has a strong background in marketing and business. Callie graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Elementary Education and has been serving as a teacher here in the DR. They both have hearts for serving and mentoring others.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements over the coming weeks as we prepare for 2017. Remember, if you are not changing, you are not growing.

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Friday, December 2nd, 2016 and is filed under Uncategorized

12366068_1070352702998275_5650133007375754461_oWe are entering the Christmas season with trees going up and gifts being purchased for loved ones. Churches are planning their Christmas services and kids are practicing for their pagents. It is a busy month but one most of us look forward too, the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

As you budget for your Christmas spending, would you consider giving joy to a child in the Dominican Republic? The children we serve live in some of the most impoverished villages in the Dominican Republic, and the gift they get from you will most likely be the only one they receive this Christmas. You can show them the joy of Jesus!

The gift will include a stuffed animal, puzzle, coloring book, toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and even a small Christmas tree for the family to enjoy! Your gift of $20 will let a child and their family know that someone loves them. This also allows us to share how much Jesus loves them.

Let’s work together this year to share the joy of Jesus birth with these kids and their families and make Him know through this land! During this season of giving, please give generously. The smile of a child receiving an unexpected gift is a representation of God’s gift to us. Please help us share this gift and bring joy to a boy or girl here in the Sosua area.

You can give by clicking HERE and choosing Children’s Education fund from drop down box.

God bless you for your gift and Merry Christmas!

Summer is Over

Friday, November 18th, 2016 and is filed under Uncategorized

CCP_8146For many people the kids heading back to school marks the official end to summer. For us it is when the last summer team heads out. Summer is a busy time for us with teams, especially youth teams, and we love it!

We love our teams because, not only do they get so much more accomplished in a shorter time than we can, but they also bring so much energy and excitement with them. It is like we get to see the work here through fresh eyes over-and-over again. That is something that is really cool.

So much was accomplished this summer including many work projects, VBS’s, girls’ program, feeding program, sharing testimonies, praying with people, medical clinic and even a spelling bee for the English class in one of our villages. We are also very thankful for the supplies that the teams brought in for our schools and medical clinics.

We cherish our teams and appreciate so much the time and resources that they commit to coming down to serve with us. We know that your trip preparation started many months before you ever stepped foot on a plane. In fact, teams are already working and planning for next Spring and Summer.

If you have never been down to visit us here in the DR, what is keeping you from coming down? I can assure you that God can use your gifts and talents, and it will be a time you will never forget.

Go MAD Sponsorships

Friday, November 18th, 2016 and is filed under Uncategorized

13122903_1158883600811851_6390788682870469345_oFor a while now people have expressed a desire to support specific areas where Go MAD is working. This has been especially true for people that have come down on one of our MAD Trips and gotten to know people either serving or being served through specific programs. We also have heard from people that have a passion for different areas of the ministry. Up to this point we have had some general categories, but we have felt like you wanted more, so we have launched Go MAD Sponsorships.

With Go MAD Sponsorships you can direct much more specifically where your contribution goes putting you in control of your donation. Today we have 16 different areas that you can choose from for your donation. We will be adding more as different needs and areas of work come up. For example, we will soon be adding a sponsorship for School Uniforms. This is extremely important as there are children that are not able to attend public school simply because their parents cannot afford the school uniforms that are required.

Let me give you an example of one of the sponsorships available today. You could provide a doctor to a community for a whole month for only $300 or share the cost for $50. How crazy is that? For only $300 hundreds of kids could receive medical care for a whole month. I bet you can think of something frivolous that you spent $300 on this past month that you would feel much better if you had spent it on providing kids with medical treatment.

There are many other areas so click on Go MAD Sponsorships and look through our online catalog and as always, we appreciate all of you that help Go MAD to restore hope and create opportunities for the exploited.

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