Archive for April 2011

CCI Impact Report and Poll   Leave a comment

Time Period

Start February 1 to April 15

Literacy Participants

58

Literacy Coach Volunteers

5

Books Read in Literacy Groups

402

Language Class Participants

20

HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy Prevention Workshop Participants

25

Participants in CCI community service activities

70

Hours of Service

282


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Posted April 17, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized

Bikes, Bread, and Tears   Leave a comment

On CCI’s website you’ll find a section called “Stories.”  We launched the site with the following story about Nicolas:

“Nicolas is a 13 year-old Consuelo boy. He sells 28 bags of bread each day for his mom who bakes it. A bag of bread costs 40 pesos, just over a dollar. Nicolas wants to save money to buy a bike so he can deliver the bread to colmados (small stores) more quickly. He divulges that he didn’t pass 7th grade this year. When asked what he plans to do when he grows up, he shrugs, and admits sadly that he knows he is too small to be a baseball player; he is unsure as to what other options for employment might be. He’d like to help his mom. CCI wants to help Nicolas explore his talents and options for employment in the future.”

We hope to expand in the future, but currently, CCI’s current programming revolves around literacy.  Fortunately, Nicolas is already a reader, and therefore is not currently involved in CCI courses.  Since we launched the website with his story, Nicolas’ situation hasn’t changed much.

I see Nicolas often selling his bread on foot, and occasionally, I buy a bag from him-it’s great bread.  A few days ago, he came to the door and asked me for some help.  I asked him what he needed and he asked if I would buy a bag of bread because it was already 11 am and he still had 8 bags to sell.  I told him I would buy 2 bags, but that I was waiting for someone to bring me change for something else, so we had to sit and wait.

As we waited, he told me, “I’m nervous because I have all of these bags left to sell, and my mom needs the money to start cooking.”  Lunch is the main meal in the Dominican Republic, and for many it is the only meal of the day.  I asked about the bike, he said he could fix an old bike for 500 pesos (about $15).  “Angela,” he uttered, “I’m just so tired.  When the regulars don’t want to buy, I have to search to find someone who will buy the bread.  My mom spends almost everything we make on making the bread each day and cooking.”  Nicolas said, “Los pobres pasan muchas cosas. (The poor go through a lot.)” I was silent, saddened by his situation; I sat staring ahead and thinking.  When I turned, I saw the hot tears in his eyes; he put his head down and wept.

My hope is to develop CCI to the point where it can offer kids and adults like Nicolas the opportunity to serve their community and learn skills for employment and progress and earn simple incentives for doing so like bike parts or a bike.  For now, I’ve paid in advance for 13 bags of bread.

Please consider giving a monthly donation to CCI to help us help Nicolas and others like him.  Thank you for your support!

Posted April 4, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized

Haitian-Dominican Obama: Work? Study? Serve?   Leave a comment


Every Saturday afternoon, a group of Haitians, Dominicans, and myself meet for language group.  This group, I feel, is quite progressive because it values the knowledge of Haitians in what can often be a very anti-Haitian culture.  I won’t get into the complex history, but relations between Haitians and Dominicans are stressed, and a racist disrespect towards Haitians prevails among many Dominicans.  For example, in the language class, we review words and phrases in Spanish, English, Haitian Kreyol, and French; the following comments have been made about Kreyol: “Ugh, it sounds so ugly!” and “I am not interested in learning that language.”  Luckily, in these situations, a brave Dominican has quieted these comments with calls for mutual respect and brotherhood. I love the class!  I am learning so much.  I write words and phrases in Spanish and then teach them in English.

My dutiful assistant is nicknamed Obama.  Obama, is a tall, lanky nineteen year-old Haitian immigrant, whose smile, although missing a front tooth is very charming. Obama teaches us the Kreyol and French equivalents for each word and phrase. After this week’s class, he came to talk with me and told me he might not be at class next Saturday; in fact, he said he may not be around for a while.  I inquired about his situation and he told me someone had found him a job in Sabana de la Mar, about two hours north.  He confessed that he didn’t want to go because he would have to stop studying.

With his permission, I’m going to relay Obama’s story:

Obama was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His mother died of what he simply called “a sickness” in 2004.  He said, “It always makes me sad when I think of my mother because she was the one that always worried about me.  My father didn’t want to claim me as his son on my birth certificate, but my mother did so I could go to school.  The situation in Haiti was really bad; there were days I didn’t eat and my father wasn’t working.”

Obama’s sister lives in the Dominican Republic, and invited him to come.  She sent him $120, which he used to pay to get across the border and to travel to the other side of the island. “My sister told me a lie.  She said things were good in the Dominican Republic and that she would sign me up for school when I got there.  It was a lie.  When I arrived, things weren’t like she had said.  She wanted me to work, but I signed myself up for school anyway.  My sister kicked me out of the house because I wasn’t making any money.  I was embarrassed.”

Obama took a job his sister’s boyfriend found him working in a tourist town.  While working, Obama and others were stopped and arrested for not having documents.  He spent several days in the local jail and was later sent to the immigration facility in the capital.  “Everything smelled like pee.  There was nowhere to sit.  Our boss sent us money for food, but it never arrived.  There was no food.”  A group of nuns working with Catholic Relief Services worked with lawyers for the release of the young men and they are now helping them to get work permits.

When Obama returned to Consuelo, he asked the director of the night school he had attended to let him back in and she did.  When Obama left Haiti, he was in his junior year of high school; here Obama is in eighth grade.  His sister is threatening to kick him out again because he isn’t contributing any money.  Another job has been set up for him.  He confessed that he doesn’t want to take the job because he would have to drop out of school and the language group.  He will make 4,000 pesos a month at his new job, about $108.

I know it looks like I'm doing all the work, but it's not true. They all wanted to see if I could move the wheelbarrow myself, which I did.

His sister is his only family here in the Dominican.  He left Haiti a month before the 2010 earthquake.  He knows of five family members that passed away.  He hasn’t talked to his dad because he is embarrassed that he hasn’t been able to send back money to help out like they expected.

I told Obama I would see if any donors would be willing to support him with a small incentive, so he can stay in school.  Obama has been active in CCI’s Service for Aid programming, giving his time in a project to prepare streets for the rainy season, helping in his neighborhood learning center, and assisting with the language group.  If you are able to give a donation to CCI, we would love help Obama connect to his potential.

Posted April 4, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized