The ongoing USA-DR people helping people success story of Barrio Blanco
This week’s follow-up on Barrio Blanco, Ron Zauner, and his POSI non-profit organization https://www.providingopportunity.org brings us up to date on the latest ongoing developments and improvements in the barrio for this weekend and beyond.
In addition to building new houses for families in need, POSI provides water, food, education, and training for this once-overlooked and ignored community.
Here are some of the other aspects and projects happening now in this unique and dynamic section of Cabarete.
Some of the people in Barrio are smart in surprising ways. Some are “college material,” some aren’t. ALL need to eat, though, and could do so much better and reliably, if they have a skill.
Eight years ago, Zauner was walking by Archimedes’ shack, and he was at work repairing a circuit board with lots of chips on it to repair a radio (he did fix it; Zauner heard it). And you should see Argenis’ woodshop. The man is brilliant and industrious. He has a big band saw made from a refrigerator motor and bicycle wheels, among other things. He makes furniture and is 35 years old.
Two weeks ago, POSI took a group of 10 residents (who have the needed documentation) to Puerto Plata, where the government offers vocational training in various fields. Zauner is here now checking this out further, and if it checks out, and he believes some good candidates will see it through, he’ll hope to encourage scholarship donors. These will be far less expensive than other scholarships because the courses are free, and the students only pay for their transportation and supplies used. The classes are either three months or eight months. Zauner’s goal, and focus will be toward deducing and ensuring that the skills gained will lead to employment or improved employment.
FIRST UNIVERSITY GRADUATE FROM BARRIO BLANCO…..EVER!
Raquel Gomez, a mother of 3, has been an excellent scholarship student and will be graduating as an ACCOUNTANT next week on November 1. We are going to HONOR her. The residents know her well. She is Proof that applying herself to her studies leads to a better life. Much better. Zauner has several things he’s working on to celebrate her success, and you can believe that the barrio is proud of her.
From Zauner’s perspective, when he began scholarships, it was like planting seeds: you don’t see much at first, but then your plant sprouts and begins to grow. You water and fertilize it, and one day, it bears fruit. Raquel is POSI’s first fruit. Soon to follow her is Leonela, Eli, and Yeliza in education, and training. The Garden of Barrio Blanco Professionals. This educational element has enormous potential as a force for positive change. It will change the lives of so many. It will mean the difference between babies being born into a destiny of poverty to one of hope and opportunity.
POSI has received its first grant ever. Katrina Cantwell, architect Gene’s grand-daughter, initiated and shepherded the application process. The Isagenix company focuses on nutrition and healthy eating. The donation is for US $25,000 and will be applied in two ways:
1) To build and install a water storage and purification system for the whole barrio so that every tap provides clean, good-tasting drinking water and 2) To use the remaining portion of the grant to provide high quality, varied, and nutritious breakfasts to our smallest schoolchildren (2 1/2 to 5 ½ years-old) each school day.
As well, there will be a lesser amount of money left that will be used to augment the diets of as many families as possible who have nutrition deficits that are affecting their health.
The parents of the children who have received this food wanted to express their gratitude.
Water is an issue in Barrio Blanco. The water company Coreplata sometimes shuts off all water to the barrio for two days or so at a time, and at other times (frequently), they reduce the water flow pressure. The water also tastes terrible, and at times, it is visibly murky after rains. It’s undrinkable, and residents who can afford to add bleach to it before washing dishes.
People buy 5-gallon bottles of water for drinking. The bottles cost 50 pesos (one US dollar) apiece, and in the DR, they recently completed a country-wide analysis of these 5-gallon bottles and found over 30% were contaminated with bacteria. While discussing the issue with the clinic administrator and doctor, they told Zauner that over 30% of their patients came in with stomach borne illnesses.
Zauner arrived in Cabarete, Oct. 18. On the 19th, he began a project that included filtering and pressurizing all water faucets in the barrio to supply clean, good- tasting drinking water in every home. Tomorrow they start the installation of a 5000-gallon water storage tank (called a “tinaco”). This system will be crucial to maintaining consistent water service when Coreplata cuts them down or off. Zauner wishes a super great thanks to ISAGENIX. It is commendable for businesses to give so charitably.
Building a New Home
Today Zauner and local crew begin building a new house for Maira and her 12-year-old daughter Fabiola. Below is a photo of when they found out they had a sponsor for a new residence. In a month, you will see them happily entering their new, dry home.
Maira is 40 years old and a cleaning lady. She starts her day at 6 am, and works 12 hours. She is quiet, very friendly, clean in person, and inside her (decrepit) two-room shack. Her daughter is smart, respectful, and attentive. In addition to moving up from often being flooded where she lives, she will no longer need to pay $ 60 per month for rent. For these reasons, this move is a significant development for her. Big. Maira is a good mother who is conscientious and loving toward her daughter. It is this that motivates Maira. Zauner is only too happy to help this hard-working mother up.
This progress will also complete the rebuilding of an entire portion of the barrio.
Around half of the barrio students are of Haitian heritage and poor. Several were born in the Dominican Republic, and have never been out of the country, but DR laws do not recognize them as citizens. They were born without a country. Citizens of nowhere. Illegal at birth. No right to work. No – anything. And they can’t enter university! There are some Dominican children as well who lack registered birth certificates. POSI works at fixing these too.
To provide a good education to a promising university student who can’t apply defeats much of the purpose of education. When donors give money not directed toward a specific use, Zauner refers to it as “general” use funds, and getting citizenship documentation and visas is a big part of where POSI uses these general funds. It is, at times, intense, as when he sent Angela to Haiti. Haiti is experiencing lots of strikes and violence, and government offices aren’t working well. Still, Zauner and POSI are persistent, and bit by bit, they make progress. Currently, they are seeing four students through the processes. Not fun, but necessary.
Tato is showing a card and money a donor sent him personally. Sometimes donors give Zauner gifts to give to people they’ve come to know and like, and Zauner always takes a photo of the person receiving the present and showing the money so that the donors know their gift was delivered correctly.
If you ever wanted to contribute directly to the improvement of people’s lives, you can be sure that every cent of your donation goes entirely to your intended recipient or project guaranteed by Zauner’s documentary photos.
Be a part of the success story that is Barrio Blanco.
Providing Opportunity for Self Improvement, Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Contact Ron Zauner POSI https://www.providingopportunity.org/
Donations: Providing Opportunity for Self Improvement, 85017 Willamette St., Eugene, OR 97405
Next week: the up-to-date progress in and the future of Barrio Blanco