Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Consuelo will welcome a new CCI Volunteer   Leave a comment

I am a political researcher from New York (and California, and I’ve also lived in Ohio and DC—I’m a little bit of a nomad).  After 5 years of working in and around political campaigns, I’ve really wanted a chance to do work that is not so far removed from actual, real, live people.  As a consultant, I worked with campaign staff who worked for candidates who, I hoped, would push for policies that would help people I would never meet—provided that my candidate won.

With CCI, I look forward to the opportunity to work directly with people, to learn what I can from them and to make what I hope will be life-long friends.

I am excited about the chance to work with children, and to take on some of the other projects available in Consuelo.  I am also really grateful for the chance to strengthen my Spanish and to learn a new city.  I’m hoping that this will be the first of several chances to serve CCI.

Posted November 8, 2012 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized

Day of Reading   1 comment

Friday, May 6th, 2011, was a great day for CCI!

CCI has moved to this facility of the ImpACTA Kids' Foundation

CCI has officially moved locations in Consuelo.  ImpACTA Kids Foundation, the charitable foundation of Manny Acta (Consuelero and manager of the Cleveland Indians), has graciously agreed to collaborate with us and share space in its new building: the Alfredo Griffin Education Complex.

The father of the local Episcopal church, Padre Guelmy, joined us to read stories.

To celebrate, CCI hosted a Day of Reading.  Children from the literacy program, their parents and grandparents, as well as community leaders attended.  CCI kids made advancements toward their goal of reading the 36 books in the phonics set.  Parents and grandparents were able to see the progress their children and grandchildren are making.  Community leaders became familiar with CCI’s programming and made personal connections with at-risk youth in the community.

Thank you for support and donations.  CCI continues to operate on occasional individual donations.  As the CEO, I will be returning to the United States in June to seek financial alliances and to raise awareness about CCI’s programming.  Our loyal and tireless volunteers have said they will continue the literacy program with or without pay.  Help us give these volunteers at least a $100 a month incentive for the work they do.  By valuing the work of the volunteers, we can ensure that positive impacts continue in the community as we connect humanity to its potential.

All 40 people who attended signed their names to commemorate our first day in the new location.

This boy carefully signs his name.

Local Peace Corps Volunteer, Sasha Miranda, listens to a story.

This boy practices before reading his book to an adult.

Alnurfo Jalles, an official from the local school district, reads with CCI kids.

Literacy participants like this young girl work towards their goal of reading the entire 36 book series.

Grandma brings her CCI participant along with other grandkids to the CCI Day of Reading.

Carmen Acta reads with a CCI literacy participant.

These CCI members earned a month of English class for their service helping with the Day of Reading

Posted May 18, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized

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


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

A Week in the Life of the CCI Director   3 comments

The Old Sugarcane Train

I thought I should give readers a taste of what it is like to live in the Dominican Republic and work on a grassroots community development project.  The following is a summary of typical weekly activities in my life here in Consuelo.  Please feel free to post comments if you have questions or want more details.

Locos Para Leer

I’m trying to start my days with a short jog.  Then is it back to the house/community center for a cold bucket bath (a bath using stored water and a small container to pour the water on yourself to bathe).  Literacy lessons start at 9:00 am, but I can usually hear kids swarming outside by 8:30 am.  We say they are loco para leer (crazy about reading), because they come so early–punctuality is not a Dominican trait.  The doors open at 9 am for the first literacy group of about 10 kids.  Each groups stays for an hour.  We review the letters and sounds we have covered up to that point and then each kid reads the book they are on in the 36 books literacy series.  If they pass, the put a sticker on the chart!  Each morning, there are two groups in the morning and two groups in the afternoon.  Some groups have literacy coach volunteers and some of the groups are stuck with just me.

In the morning, after the last group finishes at about 11 am, there is usually not electricity.  I use the charge in my computer battery until it goes out to work on administrative tasks.  When the light returns in the evening around 9 pm, I continue.

For lunch, Doña Dora, who runs a small cafeteria across the street serves me up typical Dominican dishes like la bandera (rice, beans, and chicken), moro (rice cooked with beans), locrio (rice cooked with meat), or sancocho (a stew of tubers and meat).  After lunch, I must admit I succumb to the siesta and take a short nap.  At 3 pm, literacy groups start up again.

Ambulance Donated to Consuelo

In addition to literacy groups, I am working with the Pro-Ambulance Committee of Consuelo to procure ambulances for the community.  Consuelo, a town of about 40,000, does not have an ambulance or paramedic services.  I worked with the international relief organization Project C.U.R.E. based in Denver as an intern.  With the help of Project C.U.R.E. and a grant it received from the Major League Baseball Players Association, the first ambulance should be arriving in a few weeks!

Saturdays, I am teaming up with a recently arrived Peace Corps Volunteer named Sasha.  She has been placed in one of Consuelo’s most marginalized neighborhoods called Los Filiú.  Los Filiú is almost completely populated by Haitian-Dominican immigrants.  Community activists in the neighborhood have started a community organization called AUFE (Love, Union, Faith, and Hope).  This group has been asking me to teach them English for months.  Finally, the classes are about to begin, but using the Service for Aid model.  I have asked that rather than being an English class, that it be a language exchange—– we will be learning English, Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish.  Members of the language group must complete community service before the class begins.

We just got our hair done!

Projects designed by the group include: collecting rocks and discarded building materials to prepare the dirt roads for the rainy season and offering haircuts for boys and hair-dos for girls of AUFE’s tutoring program.  CCI literacy volunteers can use their service time as entrance into the course as well.

Service for Aid: Preparing the streets for rain

On top of all this, throw in washing, cleaning, eating, going to church, playing with kids, meeting with members of other social organizations to discuss collaboration, searching for funding, tutoring kids who aren’t in the program but plead for a extra help, responding to e-mails, and learning how to not lose at Dominican dominos.  I’m busy, but I love it.

My handy-dandy washier/dryer

After a month-and-a-half of literacy lessons, kids are coming and saying, “My teacher says I’m doing better!” or “Profé, do you think I’m really learning to read?”  It is all worth it.  Thank you all for your support.  Please consider making a monthly donation at www.cciinfo.org to help us continue connecting humanity to its potential.  Thank you!

Trying not to lose

Posted March 17, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized

Dominican Independence Day   Leave a comment

Today, the 27th of February, is Dominican Independence Day.  CCI’s long term goal is to make Dominican communities like Consuelo, truly independent, by giving them the opportunities to be autonomous in their daily lives.

Living in a sovereign nation does not always guarantee independence.  Being able to care for your family by finding a job and making choices with one’s income is a key part of being truly independent.  With your help, we can offer a variety of capacity building classes for Dominicans to have skills to break into the limited employment arena with confidence.  Job opportunities are scarce in the Dominican, but we want people to prepare community members to be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

When we as humanity decide that everyone should have access to economic independence we will be closing in our potential.  Help CCI connect humanity to its potential and support us with a monthly donation of ANY denomination at www.cciinfo.org.  We appreciate your support.

 

Posted February 27, 2011 by anglynnbennett in Uncategorized