Trip-report November/December 2016 available.
"School uniform party" for 25 children from flooded houses of Sosúa Abajo en Maranatha.
So Haiti has been hit again, now by the Hurricane Matthew. In the Dominican Republic (DR) it was not so bad compared to Haiti. The south coast was the hardest hit, but the damage in Sosúa and Puerto Plata, on the north coast, was relatively small.
Just like six years ago, after the big earthquake, many Haitians will again flee to the DR in search of food, medical care, a roof over their head, in short everything what is missing in their country after the disaster. As in Europe, people in the DR do not know how to cope with a large influx of refugees. Poor Dominicans see them arriving with envious eyes. Haitians work for the lowest wages and have to endure everything as it comes. Dominicans, who already have hardly any work, again feel threatened in their existence. Police regularly turn large groups of illegal Haitians back across the border, after which they equally quickly return here. The Haitian prostitutes jostle the Dominicans, because of the low rates, and accept all the risks.
Desperate mothers send their children to a distant relative, who lives in the DR. But often they already have six children and have barely enough food and care. If then another four distant nephews and nieces arrive, this is impracticable and these children will also quickly become tramps.
The Colegio Asher, which is located in a poor neighbourhood in the DR with a lot of Haitians, will again feel the consequences, just as before. Our foundation does everything within our power to supporting this school.
In 2006, 10 years ago already, we began to help underprivileged children in the area of Sosua and Puerto Plata to go to school. In 2007, the foundation Stichting Help Sosuakids naar School was established for this purpose.
During these years, we have donated a total of some 3,500 school uniforms, shoes and thousands of school supplies, such as pens, pencils, coloured chalk, notebooks etc. etc. We also paid the salaries of some teachers of the Colegio Asher for 10 years. More than 1,700 new beautifully-printed t-shirts have found their way via us to the poorest children, and some 400 kilos of pieces of cloth for sewing lessons have been transported to Puerto Plata from the Netherlands.
We can certainly look back on the result achieved with satisfaction, but we continue looking and thinking forward.
Thanks to significant assistance from Canada, the Colegio Asher has been able to have new school buildings available. Partly as a result of this, the number of pupils in the school in the future can grow from 230 to some 500. In consultation with the Colegio Asher, our foundation has decided to set up a library in one of the buildings. Not only will the students of the Colegio be able to make use of this, but also many students from other schools, and the approximately 3,000 inhabitants of the impoverished district of El Batey la Union. Besides Dominicans living in that area there are particulay many Haitian refugees.The books can then, under supervision, be read in the library, but cannot be borrowed.
There is very little use of internet in schools on the north coast.Extensive use of computers, instead of books, is not included in the curricula. The many long power cuts and problems with the wifi reception also prevent reliable everyday use of computers. Although you can see a lot of Dominicans with a smartphone, permanent use of the internet is far too expensive for many of them. There is also little knowledge of programs apart from Facebook and WhatsApp. Many poor Dominicans and Haitians, however, have absolutely no knowledge of the internet.The setting up of a library with reference books and a lot of school books and textbooks is therefore still not obsolete and superfluous in the coming years.It will take many years before the use of computers and internet has been introduced structurally and made accessible to everyone there.
However, in recent years we have donated a number of new 7 inch tablets to the Colegio Asher. We hope these will build a bridge to a broader future use of them.
Will people help us to continue setting up the library and donate money to purchase some books, which will be very welcome on account number NL30ABNA0572739818 of our Stichting Help Sosuakids naar School.
Perhaps an idea for visitors to the Dominican Republic, who have seen the poverty there and want to do something to about it.
vouchers for new school uniforms
Trip-report May 2016 available
"School uniform party for 29 children from the country on 28 May 2016"
We are going to adjust our approach for school uniforms to the changing attitude of the Dominican government. During the past year, significantly more school uniforms have been given to underprivileged children by the Ministry of Education in the DR. Only children who already go to school can sometimes get such a free uniform, but the first school uniforms and accessories must always be paid for by themselves. This is the reason that there are many underprivileged children who do not go to school as a result of lack of money.
In May 2016, elections are being held in the DR and in such a year there is always a lot of money given out in order to win votes. It is therefore the question whether the government will continue to make school uniforms available on the same scale after the elections.
For the time being, our foundation has decided to focus on the influx of a greater number of children who do not yet go to school and less on providing uniforms for six years to the same children. After the first year, the children will themselves have to try to obtain a uniform or parts of it from the government. Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the children. Should it turn out that they subsequently do not receive the necessary things from the government, we will then take care of this.
Our foundation has limited resources. The method above means we try avoid providing unnecessary uniforms and we also encourage the children to take action themselves during their school-going period. Where necessary, we will of course continue to assist.
During my visit to Sosúa in November 2015, I met a fellow countrywoman, Janny Koldenhof, in hotel Casa Marina. She is an enthusiastic, energetic lady who regularly visits Sosúa and immediately offered that she wanted to help our foundation in the area of fundraising. She has many more contacts in the East of our country. Our foundation is very grateful for her help.
The Colegio Asher has taken the second new building into use.
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016
Trip-report November 2015 available.
We hope to have our new website online within a few months.
The management and teachers of the Colegio Asher currently have additional difficulties at the start of this new school year. Many big changes in the education process have been suddenly imposed by the Ministry of Education, such as the manner of giving lessons and the method of evaluation. At the same time, a lot of new pupils with serious behavioural and learning problems have come to the Colegio from other schools. Everyone is now working extremely hard so that these new children will be able to be integrated with the other children in the classes.
vouchers for school uniforms, Camu, La Cienaga, Sabaneta, Sosúa
trip-report May 2015 available
The Dominican Ministry of Education is now gradually introducing the system in which the schoolchildren have lessons for the whole day instead of a half-day. More money is also being made available for meals now the children no longer go home.
In a high (Canadian) tempo, the Samaritans are constructing the new school building for the Colegio Asher. This is making a dream come true for the Colegio Asher, the school that started in September 2006. Up until now, the school was always only housed in poor accommodation, but that is now going to change.
Nevertheless our help is still very necessary. The Colegio Asher needs a lot of money every month in order to continue to pay teacher salaries. Also, books, notebooks, blackboard chalk, etc., must always be purchased and food must also be purchased for meals to be provided to the children in school.
Public schools, which had become very dilapidated, are now being restored. The Dominican Government has made money available for this and at various places one can see construction work. The school in Puerto Plata that I visited in November was also addressed extensively, but the work has now been stopped for two months. The reason for this is unknown. The students are placed in another school and now must until they will be able to return to their original school.
Trip- report November 2013.
In addition to exchanging ideas with the people involved and checking on the projects and information, the trips to Sosúa also bring other positive things with them. During her stay, Sylvia gets in touch with Dutch people as well as, for example, Canadians who are on holiday there. Some of these tourists are looking for a good destination for school supplies or clothing they have brought with them. When requested, Sylvia then visits the Colegio Asher with them. Visitors are always deeply impressed by what they see there and want to contribute something.
An elderly Canadian lady, Nelly, who frequently visits Sosúa and has great social empathy, visited the Colegio Asher with Sylvia in May 2013. She recently telephoned Sylvia, because she is now going to fill a couple of boxes with aid supplies for the DR, which will be transported by container ship from Toronto to Puerto Plata. Some of these supplies are for the children of the Colegio Asher.
Although this is outside our Dutch foundation, through these contacts in Sosúa our aim is also achieved, which is to provide assistance to underprivileged children in the DR.