Dominican Republic Field Study Service Learning

Project Update - June 2012

Thank you again to everyone who donated towards our fundraising efforts for projects in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Through the Catalyst program and additional efforts we fundraised over $7,000 in total and have invested our funds into three different projects: Mata Los Indios Sustainable Farm, Esperanza International Northeastern Microfinance Fund, and Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Garden Project.

Project A. Mata Los Indios Sustainable Farm
Our biggest project was the creation of a sustainable, independent farm in a community called Mata Los Indios. The community rests atop a large valley through which a river runs at the base of the hill. While some would consider a river a blessing, for this community, the river floods during the rainy season, isolating them from access to basic necessities such as food, clean water and markets. Mata Los Indios also used to be a batey (or a Haitian workers commune) for a sugar cane company which has since closed down. As a result, only a handful of people in this 96 family community have jobs. Needless to say, in this community, families often go many days and sometimes weeks without a nutritious meal.

As a group, we have invested $3,600 USD to Mata Los Indios, which was used for the Sustainable Farm: 

- Renting a tractor to clear and till two acres of land for the farm
- Buying fencing materials to protect the land from animals and children
- Buying seeds, soil and fertilizer
- Buying tools such as rakes, hoes, gloves and machetes to work the land
- Buying an irrigation pump and generator to pull the water up from the soil

We also used about $1,500 of the $3,600 investment to purchase food for the community from a nearby wholesaler to help them get through this rainy season which begins at the end of May through November. The following food was provided for each of the 96 families:

- 22 pounds of rice
- 2 big cans of fish
- Many additional pounds of oatmeal, beans, oil, sugar, salt, soap and other necessities.

More importantly, rather than just providing them with food or the opportunity to grow their own food to sell at market, your donation helped to give them hope. It was incredible to see the grateful members of this community come together with a reinvigorated passion for life based on the knowledge that there are people out there who care about them.

Juan Pena Salas, one of our classmates on the trip, will be returning to the Dominican Republic as an intern for Esperanza International. Juan will oversee the project with the community leaders to ensure sustainability. The farmers in the community met with Juan to describe their current plan to allocate ¼ of the farm produce to feed the elderly members (or ‘ancianos’) in the community and ¾ of the farm to sell within the community to sustain the project.

Project B. Esperanza International Northeastern Microfinance Fund
We invested $2,500 to the Esperanza International Northeastern Microfinance Fund with the Social Enterprise Institute, which invested $12,500 for a total of $15,000 to create new village banks. These village banks will help to create 60 new business loans to fund entrepreneurs and their enterprises!

Project C. Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Garden
We invested $900 towards our service project at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos’ garden, which helps to feed 217 orphaned and vulnerable children. The farm at NPH has lots of delicious produce. While we were there, we helped out with the chinola (or passion fruit) trees and watering/maintaining the garden.

Thank you so much for your support! Please feel free to contact us for more information or if you’d like to keep up with our project, visit www.numf.tumblr.com

2012 Dominican Republic Field Study Photo Gallery

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Thank You for Your Support!

Our Project - April 2012

This May, we will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to spend a month working in impoverished communities through a collaboration of Northeastern University’s Social Enterprise Institute and the microfinance organization Esperanza. We will be measuring the social impact of microfinance on borrowers, as well as giving back to many of the communities we work in.

While our weekdays will be spent working with associates who have received microloans, our weekends are filled with service learning projects that are designed, funded, and implemented by students in partnership with organizations which serve the poorest of the poor.  These organizations include Esperanza; Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a nonprofit that cares for orphaned and abandoned children throughout Latin America; and Heifer International, which donates animals to impoverished people all over the world to help them create sustainable businesses, farms, and sources of food.

These projects are more than just one-time donations. In these communities, our work will produce various income-generating activities for these families, creating opportunities and impact that will last long after we leave.

Our Goal

We need your help to fund three of the service projects that will be completed over the course of the trip. Our total goal is to raise $2500. This money will be applied toward the following activities:

Building a community livestock pen in Mata Los Indios with Heifer International - $1000 for livestock purchase, construction tools, wood, nails and wire mesh

Rehabbing a school in San Pedro de Marcolis with Esperanza - $500 for construction materials such as paint brushes, paints, gloves, paint thinner, rollers

Working on an organic farm at the NPH orphanage which is home to 200 children from the DR and Haiti - $1000 for gardening supplies, seeds, soil, tools

About the Social Enterprise Institute Field Study Program

The Social Enter­prise Institute is grounded in the belief that business can be a powerful tool in helping to alleviate poverty in the developing world by utilizing enterprise based solutions. We believe we are build­ing the next generation of global business leaders.

This is the third year of the SEI Dominican Republic Field Study Program. This year’s group consists of 42 students primarily from the College of Business and College of Social Science and Humanities. In addition to carrying out their field study work, the group aims to identify international co-op connections for future students to embark on 6 month co-ops at Heifer International or Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos.

Visit us online at http://www.northeastern.edu/sei/

Project Photo Gallery

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