Friday, April 11, 2008

Dominican Republic Trip Part 4

This next story is probably my (Carrie’s) favorite. We met a woman named Milan who received her first loan several years ago. Her business was sewing clothing. Through the loan process and her relationship with her loan officer, she became a believer. The way she describes her friendship with her loan officer (another woman) we could tell how much love and care she had for her. Before she was a believer, she would spend much of her savings on gambling. Once she accepted the Lord, she wanted to do something more significant with that money. She realized that sewing, while she was good at it, was not her passion, but that she longed to give the children living on her street and in her neighborhood an education. So, Milan started a school in her own house. She was committed to not only teach them, but feed them (as most come from very poor families without much money for food) and also clothe them (since she is skilled at sewing). Well, her school grew until today where it has completely taken over her house and is at full capacity at around 250 students. Each student pays a fee to attend the school, but since most are from very poor families, many children’s tuitions are subsidized by donations from Esparanza and others. At the end of 2007 she had been able to purchase a piece of vacant property two doors down from the school, and a two-story school building that is much bigger than her former house is just being completed so she can accept more children. See below for a picture of the neighborhood. The school will be the nicest building around.

When we walked into the school we were greeted with many smiling faces and “hola” as we made our way to the back. I was amazed at how many children had fit into such a small room (no fire codes, apparently!). You should definitely check out this video we found done by the folks at Hope. It’s really neat as you get to hear Milan’s heart as well. You can see all the kids squished into the rooms too.

The school she talks about building is the school I mentioned and the building we were able to see almost completed. So cool! And the guy that speaks at the end is Daniel, who was so hospitable to our group- he was our “tour guide” who drove us around and who took Greg, Erik, and I on Saturday around Santo Domingo (the capital) before our flight home.

Milan school video:





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2 comments:

Jen said...

Thanks so much for your blog glimpse into microfinance. I'm definitely intrigued by it, and as soon as this quarter's work is finished, I want to learn more. It sounds very like the sort of thing Joe and I talk about wanting to be involved in but not knowing where to begin.

Rachel said...

This is Rachel Rathburn (you might remember me, if not...no worries ;-)). It's great that you're interested in micro-finance. I actually work for an organization that does just that AND we too work in the DR. It's called Floresta (www.floresta.org). I was actually just in the DR for work, great place. Blessings old friends!! :-)

rach