This project left me with many questions, but with a sense of inspiration.

By: Fernanda Anneliza De La Cruz Berihuete

In my home country of the Dominican Republic, children’s rights aren’t as respected as they should be. Even though it is against the law, many parents obligate their children to work as result of an unsteady economy and lack of education. Unfortunately, society sees this situation as normal, forgetting about the negative consequences of raising children without access to education.

A very common job for children in my country is shoe shining on the streets. In my hometown of San Juan De la Maguana, my friends and I completed a project to help child shoe shiners return to school by sponsoring them with uniforms, notebooks, backpacks, and other school supplies. This project was about humanity, dignity, and protection. Education is one of the most important things that a child can receive.

Some of our goals included:

  • Train boys and their parents about the importance of education.
  • Play some sports with the boys.
  • Supply boys with uniforms and supplies to go to school.

This project was a personal challenge. I traveled to the city three times in one month to meet with boys aged 11-14. At the first meeting, no children showed up because they were working long hours. Finally, at the second meeting, 8 children came and I could see the enthusiasm in their eyes. We introduced ourselves and gave a motivational orientation where we presented the advantages of education and shared personal stories of how education has positively affected our own lives. Then we took time to eat and talk about life and dreams.

Talking to the boys I discovered:

  • They have big dreams. They are good, curious, smart boys wishing to be better.
  • They feel a responsibility to help their families financially.
  • They have a critical point of view of politics and government.

This project left me with many questions, but with a sense of inspiration. What should I do now? How can we get more people involved? How do I encourage parents to see more than the day to day? What could be a better plan to provide long-term benefits? I hope to find the answers someday. Thanks so much to CCI Greenheart for supporting this project and helping my country!

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