We were first made aware of this nonprofit about 7 years ago by Caitlin's father. We continued to learn more about Project Esperanza through our church and through friends of Caitlin. The women's group at our church began supporting them by sponsoring 16 children. They also sent cards and pictures throughout the year to show the children that they were in our prayers.
This past March, 2019, we had the pleasure of visiting Caitlin for 5 days. We stayed at the guest house, which also serves as an outdoor classroom, as well as visiting both of the schools. It was a joy to see firsthand how the children are benefiting from our sponsorship and through the unwavering efforts of Caitlin and her team of volunteers and teachers.
We had the privilege of working with the students and teachers at the school in Puerto Plata by making bracelets with them as well as doing some physical education activities and playing UNO one afternoon for English Club.
We look forward to bringing others from our church so that they may have the opportunity to see the good work that Caitlin is doing in the DR.
Tom and Penny Croll
I've collaborated with Project Esperanza since 2016 on three different occasions, and each time has been a wonderful experience. Project Esperanza helped to facilitate the daily logistics for my student groups, which allowed me as one of the faculty leaders to focus on the serving and learning experiences of the group. The organization's administrators, school staff, and the community members are incredible people, who have significant local knowledge to share. I strongly encourage others to support Project Esperanza and its goals because of its grassroots approach and relationship with the local community.
I Volunteered with Project Esperanza in the Summer of 2010. It was the most inspiring time of growth and service I have ever had. Caitlin was Super Woman on a daily basis- organizing the chaos in 3 languages with a baby on her hip! To watch her vision grow over the past 9 years has been amazing.
I was there for 5 months and in that time we managed to build a chicken coop, a small plant nursery, and several rain barrels. I also taught English and PE. My personal goal for the trip was to test my optimistic view of the world in a place where I knew it was in short supply. I came away more inspired than ever that staying positive and working to make our situation better each day is not a great goal to strive for; but a necessary survival skill. This lesson has helped me many times since then.
The work that Project Esperanza is doing changes lives in a big way both on the volunteer side and of course in the communities they serve and are an integral part of.
Went a few years ago to volunteer with summer camp. Had alot of fun, the kids are great. I still donate and hope to get back some day.
I have been volunteering with Project Esperanza since meeting Caitlin McHale, the co-founder and director in 2010. Visiting the North Coast of the DR twice a year, many of the people involved with the organization are like family to me now.
Over the years I’ve helped out with English camp, in the schools, with the boys at the boys home, taken students on field trips to the beach and to a local animal sanctuary, visited with families and much more.
I’ve traveled and volunteered in many countries but my heart always leads me back to Project Esperanza!!
My first experience with Project Esperanza and it`s director Caitlin McHale was in 2010. I was in Puerto Plata and had met with several different groups on this trip, hoping to find one that I would want to continue working with. I knew immediately that Project Esperanza was the group for me. Caitlin was refreshingly honest when telling of the organizations work. She is commited in a way that is rarely seen, living among the people she is working so hard to help. We visited several of the organizations projects including the two grassroots schools, a community garden and a community center/ art shop. We stopped by the boy`s home ( for street kids) so that I could see it but did not go in, Caitlin has the utmost respect for the boys privacy and the sensitive situation they are in....I went home and remained in constant contact with Caitlin. The more I spoke with her and heard about Project Esperanza the more I knew that I wanted to focus on helping with this group. I became a monthly sponsor and eventually volunteered to be the sponsor coordinator and then later I also became a student sponsor. I have been back to Puerto Plata three times since that trip and have spent most of my vacation time volunteering with Project Esperanza. My family, including my children (19 and 9 years old) have both gone along with me and I believe that this experience has taught them more than any class in school. My older son has even decided to take an International Development course in University because of his experience with Project Esperanza. The work that Project Esperanza does is real....it is done solely for the betterment of the lives of the people they work with. Esperanza means hope and Project Esperanza is bringing hope to those who have had little in the past.
I was grateful to learn about and visit Project Esperanza with a dear friend and colleague almost 10 years ago. It's the real deal and they continue to create positive change in the lives of everyone they work with.
I am an RN who wished to use her emergency room background to aid others and have sustainability through education. Since 2013 I have gone 1-2 times a year with groups of medical and nonmedical people. We have had 6-30 people and have held medical clinics and done first aid and anatomy teaching which Caitlin and her team sponsored and interpreted for. In all my groups we are in awe of the daily needs of the Haitian population in this Dominican world. We relish in their enthusiasm and talents. Their hugs and smiles sustain our sometimes long dusty days. I have seen Caitlin on a personal level support this Haitian world of children and their families with the utmost positive skills of education, concern for health and welfare, money for transport to jobs, food deliveries, and petitioning others to cover extreme medical needs. She is entrenched daily with these needs and meets them to the best of her and her families abilities. Her and her husband have made Project Esperanza a well known source of true volunteerism and the community benefits with children who are able to obtain education, go into high school and trade schools, have jobs, and beyond that self esteem and appreciation for others. Her energy seems limitless and without her many families would be destitute. I have proudly contributed to needs requested by Project Esperanza monetarily and sponsor 2 children through this nonprofit. Unlike other nonprofits I have trust where my money goes and accountability for its use since 2013. The very interpretation of this nonprofit is HOPE and it is provided non stop with ones money and time
Ever since 2016 I have brought students and colleagues to help with the Mission of Project Esperanza. I a m proud to be associated with the teachers of Project Esperanza as a support and fellow-educator. I have watched the children grown in confidence and skill in the few years I have been going to Puerto Plata. It is impressive that the foundation manages to put volunteers to work in a variety of meaningful ways. They have not only my support but my admiration and dedication as a volunteer.
I, along with students from my school, have worked with Project esperanza on three different occasions. We have worked both in Padre Granero as well as in Muñoz. The organization is doing great work in getting the local kids ready for school and educating many of them itself. The organization's head, Caitlin is a tireless advocate and force for progress in the area. Most recently we helped to prepare a teaching garden in Muñoz as well as getting a new classroom ready to accept some younger students.
I have travelled to many different countries teaching English and volunteering in an abundance of settings around the globe. Project Esperanza is one of my favourite organizations that I have been privileged to volunteer with. Caitlin, is truly dedicated to see these youths grow in every aspect of life. She strives day in and day out and just being in this environment for two weeks, one can truly see that she puts her mind, body, and soul into the organization. This nonprofit organization in my honest opinion elucidates the attitude in which all nonprofits should bring to the table. That being that all humans have a right to a fair opportunity at life. Caitlin makes sure to implant this in those young minds day in and day out.
I spent a lot of time with Caitlin and Project Esperanza and absolutely loved my experience. Caitlin has dedicated her life to helping as many people as she can in these communities and it is clear the huge impact she has made on these children and their families. There are so many different ways to get involved with the organization, with many options for groups, families and individuals to use the skills they have and choose their own projects. Volunteering with Project Esperanza is a life changing experience that I cannot recommend highly enough!
Caitlin gave up her comfy life in the United States and is truly making a difference. She knows about the needs because she listens and acts. She is a godly woman and the fruit she bears is so noticeable. Spend some time with her and I am sure you will be changed for the better. See the reactions from the people when they see her and I know you will see the kind of results she can produce. From her family to the people she has encouraged over the years she has been there, she is greatly appreciated.
God blessed me with the opportunity to find this ministry while trying to find a way to get a homeless illegal Haitian boy of the street. I met Watso in Sosua and he was living on the beach. He was picked up by CONANI and had escaped. I made my way to Caitlyn and her organization agreed to meet Watso and see if he qualified. We spent a few short days at the school and spent time doing activities such as soccer and water jewel finding. Project Esperanza whole heartedly accepted Watso. If God allows, I want to go back and spend some more time doing anything that I can do. I see a lot of need but I also see how well they work with what they have. I pray that God will continue to bless and anyone who has experiences with PE, will continue to share their good works with everyone they can. The need is great to provide illegal Haitians a refuge and learning opportunities. Unfortunately, the life for a Haitian may be better than living in Haiti, it is also more dangerous. Thank you for going above and beyond to help me with my situation.
For my son’s thirteenth birthday, I wanted to do something special. Instead of simply taking him to a resort, I wanted him to learn to give and see how others live. We found out about the Esperanza Project and I knew it would be perfect. We stayed with the Esperanza House in Munoz for a week to really get the idea and feeing of how the residents there live. To be honest, the cultural difference almost shocked us at first, contrasting from the privileged life we led in America. The poverty we saw there was life-changing. We also went at a time of a lot of controversy, and I’m so glad we didn’t buy into it. There was no sense whatsoever that we were unsafe, and we stayed in one of the most impoverished places in the country. From the moment we got off the plane, we felt welcomed by the Volunteer Coordinator, Cat’s hugs and welcoming words. Before we even saw the children we were going to volunteer with, we had the privilege to meet Caitlin, her family, and Cat. Caitlyn is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. She donates her entire lifestyle to help those in need. She’s spectacular and everyone in the community knows it and admires her. Additionally, one of the teachers in the area who helped out the group, Jerry, helped us so much throughout the process, such as when my son got an infected bee sting and it took us hours to find any help. The whole team really was living the life. Caitlin didn’t help out all the poor children and go back home to her massive mansion or something, she raised multiple children through the harshness of life there. Finally, when we did volunteer with the kids, we saw how poorly kept the school was, and also how much the children valued their education. The school’s conditions were very lackluster, but the children’s experience was still amazing! They appreciated every attempt to reach out, and my son got along perfectly with them. They teased him about being a Gringo and living in America, but in a friendly way. The children were so fun, tough, and easygoing. They grew very close over the time we were in the Dominican Republic, and we all cried when we were leaving. Lastly, the hospitality from the organization was really exceptional. We had a private cook, Rosa who cooked several meals a day of authentic Haitian delicacies just for us, and it was some of the best food we ever had. In general, the Esperanza Project is wonderful and life-changing. I’d recommend to everyone I know, especially families with teenage children. We are obviously going to do it again!
I had such a wonderful, truly rewarding Summer helping at the English Immersion Camp! We sang, we played, we created lots of arty things and most importantly we learned lots of new words! The children were so grateful and eager to learn, they taught me a lot! Hopefully this was not my last time working with the beautiful community Project Esperanza serves! I hope to return some day!
My teenage daughter and I volunteered with Project Esperanza last summer. We had the most amazing experience! The organization is doing amazing work to support the educational, social and emotional needs of Haitian refugee children living in the Dominican Republic. Thanks to the work of founder Caitlin McHale and her wonderful staff, Project Esperanza has been instrumental in providing housing and schools for dozens of children who were previously living and working on the streets around Puerto Plata. This is a very worthy, well run organization doing great things for children and families in need.
I have been a long-time supporter of Project Esperanza, served briefly as a member of its Board, and know the organization to be truly dedicated to changing lives living in at-risk conditions for the better, primarily through education but certainly with heaping amounts of love and faith as well.
THE FUTURE BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS
In his New York Times bestseller Mountains Beyond Mountains, author Tracy Kidder tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer’s indefatigable and maniacally obsessive commitment to deliver world-class health care to some of our planet’s poorest peoples living in Haiti, Peru and Mexico.
Reading page after page of situations where people face impossible odds and succeed, Project Esperanza came to my mind.
Ten years ago, Project Esperanza was established as a Virginia Tech student organization by Caitlin McHale, then a junior studying Interdisciplinary Studies, and English major Kristin Preve, a sophomore at the time. The previous fall, the two had visited the community of Esperanza in the Dominican Republic and upon their return they set about inspiring support for an orphanage they visited as well as for the people who lived in nearby “bateys,” areas where the poorest of the poor lived under metal roofs, on dirt floors, and without regular access to electricity or water.
Today, Project Esperanza is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization celebrating its tenth anniversary of helping youths who have emigrated from Haiti to secure a better life in the Dominican Republic. Its grassroots schools educate nearly 200 students, ages five to 18, some without family, some living in the bateys, and others who live in a group home operated by Project Esperanza. Formally, its Mission is “to form a global community focused on creating positive change and a sustainable future for Haitian immigrant youths in the Dominican Republic through education and empowerment,” and to do so in ways that respect local culture, promote socialization and are sustainable as well as scalable. In reality, the organization routinely provides support services beyond the focus of its core programs, based on need, not creed. Its day-to-day programs are carried out by approximately two dozen employees and a host of volunteers. McHale serves as its director, and she and a Board of Directors (which includes two Virginia Tech alumnae) lead the organization with support from Faculty Advisor Reed Kennedy, Director of International Programs, Pamplin College of Business.
In 2016 alone, Project Esperanza successfully completed two crowdsourcing campaigns, revitalized its connections with the Virginia Tech community (including uniting with the student organization Hokies for Haiti), and secured a loan to facilitate the purchase of a 4,367 square-foot building that will become a permanent school. In addition, its education program is on a path to become the first within the Dominican Republic to be accredited with a bilingual Haitian Creole-Spanish curriculum.
Kidder’s title, Mountains Beyond Mountains, echoes a Haitian proverb that acknowledges how problems in life often reveal themselves only after a first challenge is conquered, and at that same time a new perspective into what’s possible is revealed.
It’s apt for Project Esperanza.
Its work will never end, the challenges faced by staff, volunteers, donors and the children they serve will never cease, and the opportunities to make life better will forever expand.
Working side-by-side and hand-to-hand, with abiding faith, Project Esperanza is creating a brighter future “beyond the mountains.”
Project Esperanza is a top-notch grassroots organization that truly cares about the community it serves. I was lucky enough to spend a week down in the Puerto Plata region in a local, family-run hostel and work with some of the children. Caitlyn was absolutely amazing in her dedication and commitment to improving the lives of the community there.
I journeyed to the Dominican Republic to help Haitian immigrants start their own businesses last summer, and my group and I would've never been given the opportunity to help these people if not for Project Esperanza. They contact and care for the less fortunate within the impoverished country and do everything in their power to give them a better life. I witnessed first hand the difference being made in the children's lives, socially and academically , all thanks to Project Esperanza.
I had an amazing time with Project Esperanza. The people were so comforting, accommodating, and smart. My experience with this group gave me a new founded look on the world and I haven't looked back. Project Esperanza did a great job organizing our service trip, as their top management is very on top of their duties. Overall 10/10 and I would love to go on another trip with this group!
Project Esperenza's commitment to the Haitian people in the Dominican Republic is so genuine and unwavering in their efforts to create sustainable, community based improvement. They deserve all the recognition they can get for their work, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it as a college student volunteer.
A great nonprofit starts with the passion of the people leading it, and Caitlin definitely has a great passion for the work that she does. It's genuinely inspiring and motivating as a volunteer (even a short term volunteer) to see how committed everyone is to serving and loving the people of Puerto Plata. As busy as everyone is, people are putting their best efforts into everything they do and it shows in the kids that come out of their schools and programs. It would be extremely difficult to walk away from Puerto Plata after seeing their work without being changed.
Project Esperanza offered me one of the best experiences i have ever had! I am so grateful for the opportunity they provided for me and other VT students to go learn and experience the dominican and haitian culture. i hope to do work with them again in the future!
I have taken college and sigh school students 4 times to work through Project Esperanza in Puerto Plata, DR. Each time the students have had a tremendous experience. The cultural immersion is amazing and working with the Haitian population there has been quite rewarding.
Project Esperanza takes the right approach... a hand up, not a hand out. Their philosophy is admirable. I call Caitlin, the Director, the Mother Teresa of Puerto Plata!!
I teach in the business school at Virginia Tech, and took students to the Dominican Republic for a second time this past May. We repeated the program because it had such a postive impact on my students the first time. We work with Project Esperanza to help Haitians start or improve their businesses. We plan for students to go eveery year, as Project Esperanza and its director, Caitlin McCoy, are such an inspiration to my students. In fact, my church as now gotten involved with Project Esperanza, and will be doing a youth mission trip there next summer to teach in PE's English camp and do sports clinics.
Project Esperanza truly provides hope and education to the youth in Puerto Plata. There is definite heart and soul in this organization, and it shines through the people whose lives are positively effected. I bring groups of college-aged students to the Dominican Republic to work with this organization, and they are met with challenges, friendships and growth opportunities. Awesome work providing hope and future for fabulous people.
In July 2017, I had the wonderful opportunity to accompany a group of middle school students to volunteer with Project Esperanza. We served at their summer camp, Cambia Mis Estrellas, for one week and worked with children of all ages. We supervised activities including art, music, sport/games, and story time, all the while incorporating English vocabulary. Caitlin is the amazing, dedicated director of the school and summer camp and was an absolute pleasure to work with. She is organized, and along with her staff, provides an excellent support structure for the volunteers. I do not speak Spanish but the Project Esperanza staff was always available if I needed help translating and with their guidance, I felt that I was able to effectively work with the children. Caitlin has worked selflessly for many years to grow the school and to provide a loving, nurturing, and educational haven for the Haitian children. Observing the older students there, it is obvious that her efforts are paying off and that Project Esperanza is definitely making a difference in the lives of all it touches - the children as well as the volunteers!
Esperanza means hope. This truly embodies the experience Project Esperanza gives to all the people they work with. I co-led a group of 16 volunteers and the experience was unforgettable. We got to work at the Muñoz school where we taught lessons to the students. The opportunity was very eye-opening. There is so much that they still need but it is incredible how hard they work to provide the materials and an educational foundation. We also got to work with their local art shop and teach some skills to apply and later sell on the shop. These were some of the best times we had as a group. We were truly able to connect with the community and create that bond that made it hard saying good bye. We could not be more grateful to everyone within this organization and cannot wait to go back!
I have known Project Esperanza for 7 years but have brought Middle School students to volunteer at the Cambia Mis Estrellas (Change My Stars) summer camp for 3 years in a row. We also have been able to partner our students with older students from the camp (or community) to do activities in the afternoon so that the students will have a chance to interact in meaningful ways. Some of my students have returned three times and stay in touch with the students of Project Esperanza during the school year. It has been a marvelous experiment in Global Education, community building, and experiential learning. Project Esperanza has been welcoming and flexible enough for us to build an excellent program for our students and we know that the students of Project Esperanza have enjoyed getting to know American peers. It has also been wonderful to see the improvements over the years that the organization, with the leadership of Caitlin McHale, has made to both the physical infrastructure and the program. Caitlin has a heart of gold.
Project Esperanza is an amazing movement of bringing out full potential in those who are heavy with hopelessness. Caitlin and her team have given their all to provide safety, education, love, and hope to many. My husband and I have supported this movement from its beginning and we are proud to provide the aid we are able to such a wonderful organization.
I helped co-chaperone a group of Middle School students from Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, this past July for a week of working in the Project Esperanza "Cambia Mis Estrellas" summer camp. A dear friend of mine has been actively volunteering and working with Project Esperanza for years, and I was lucky enough to join her as she organized a group of students to work in the summer camp. To say that she has poured her heart and soul into the organization, would be an understatement, and I finally understand why. Along with the founder, Caitlin McHale, these inspiring women have helped turn around a lot of kids' lives. I was very glad to finally meet Caitlin and see firsthand, all the love and hard work that she has put into Project Esperanza. Caitlin has helped turn a sad situation for the kids at Project Esperanza into a story that truly has hope. The kids who come through the school are given a safe, happy and loving place to learn, and Caitlin is indeed changing their stars. Although our time at the camp lasted only a week, I was deeply moved by the kids I met - they all love to learn and love Caitlin and Project Esperanza! I also met other volunteers who have given months of their time to work with the school and the camp, because they believe so strongly in giving these kids a valuable education. I hope to continue my involvement with Project Esperanza by sponsoring a student for the duration of their schooling, by returning to volunteer in the summer and by continuing to help advocate for this charity.
For the past three years Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA has had a successful partnered with Project Esperanza. Our Bonner Scholars Program has their junior students participate in a international service trip with Project Esperanza in Puerto Plate, Dominican Republic. We utilize the service of Peacework, Inc for making the travel, accommodations and service projects appropriate for our group. Approximately 15 African- American males each year completed several service project which include renovations at the school and the group home. We also participated in a cultural exchange program that involved sports activities. This year our students sent backpacks, pens, pencils and other school supplies.
Although our program was only one week each year we have been able to see the impact on the school and the youth at Project Esperanza, but also the impact on our students, since many of them have never been outside of the United States. The program has motivated our student to continue their international service and several student have changes their major and now work in the foreign service office.
We are in the process of planning our fourth year service trip with Project Esperanza for December 2017. Several other Bonner program are also planning their service trips. Working with Project Esperanza and Caitlin has been a wonderful, valuable and rewarding experience for our students. We hope to continue working with Project Esperanza and letting pother program know that if you want a great program to support that is making the difference in the lives of others- this is the program!!
Dr. Wilbur (Monty) Whitney
Director, Bonner Program
Atlanta, GA 30314
I co-lead a group of university students to volunteer and conduct research with Project Esperanza. We were provided great support and wonderful opportunities to serve and learn. Project Esperanza is doing very meaningful work in the community, and I am grateful to have been able to contribute to its mission. I would highly recommend collaborating and working with this organization!
Amazing Organizacion! Really special community! Very motivated and eager to learn! Project Esperanza is doing something incredible for an extremely vulnerable population! They have a lot of merit for that!
I have known Caitlin and Project Esperanza for many years now. Her dedication to the project is immeasurable and the difference she makes on the children and community is obvious. If you are considering donating or helping this cause in any way you can be guaranteed that your dollar will go as far as possible and that you've put your trust in the right place.
Project Esperanza had bever wavered from their mission. Caitlin and her team serve the Haitian children with humility and love. It is an honor to be associated with this group.