As students of the Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern University (SEI), we are traveling to the Dominican Republic to work in partnership with a local organization called Project Esperanza (PE). Project Esperanza primarily, but by no means exclusively, serves the Haitian immigrant population of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (DR) in the areas of education, social aid, and community development.
Under the guidance of PE, we will help establish a community garden and sustainability center that enables locals to grow chocolate trees, providing cacao for people through out Domincan Republic and the world. A portion of this sustainable cacao garden will be dedicated to Northeastern students, who will support the families of PE by helping them plant cacao trees. Once those trees start producing, the families will sell the seeds in town or export them for chocolate production all over the world, earning more than $60 a year in profit. What makes this project exciting for us, is that many local Haitians are eager to participate and dedicated to working hard to reap the long-term benefits.
With your support, we hope to continue to build upon the connections the Social Enterprise Institute has made within the DR and leave a lasting impact on the lives of Haitians in the country, who in turn, will impact our lives and the greater Northeastern community as a whole. Working hand-in-hand with locals will enrich our own educational experience and help us establish a perspective that we cannot gain from textbooks or class lectures. As ambassadors for the university at the global level, we are proud to represent Northeastern in a mission to bring sustainable projects to families who would not otherwise have the means to obtain them.
Thank you in advance for any contribution you can make to help us improve the lives of the families of Puerto Plata.
Our initial Catalyst goal is $1,000. This money will be used to purchase the basic requirements and resources for planting trees in Northeastern’s portion of the Muñoz cacao garden. Planting one tree costs a total of $60, which covers the costs of purchasing a plot of land, a tall fence surrounding the land, and other expenses, such as bringing in a bit of new earth. With $1000, we will be able to grow approximately 17 trees for the community during our visit to the DR.
UPDATE (June 24): A few days ago, there was a fire in the middle of the batey in Muñoz that has destroyed 27 houses along with the owner's belongings. Some of the victims affected were PE's students, families, artists, and employees. We hope and pray that they didn't lose their birth certificates and regularization documents. If so, they may risk of being deported since the deadline for non citizens in the Dominican Republic to establish legal residency passed on June 17.
We aim to support the hard work these families have ahead of them in gathering their paperwork and rebuilding them homes and through our gardening effort, we hope to give them a future. The money raised beyond the initial goal will be used to expand and scale the project by growing more trees that could, as a result, benefit some of the fire victims.
The Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) 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. The SEI is a resource center housed in the D'Amore-McKim School of Business that empowers students to be socially motivated, global business leaders.