PEP+ stands for Porvenir English Program+ and includes teaching English, computers, and so much more! Our HCA volunteers work at three locations in El Porvenir, but the PEP2 afternoon group has always been the largest. PEP2 is located in the neighborhood closest to the pineapple fields called Barrio La Mitch. Having originated our programs at our classroom in El Centro, PEP 2 initially started materializing in 2011-2012 as an expansion of VAP (Vacation Activities Program). Over the years we have developed strong relationships with the students in that location, which includes our first two high school scholarship students, Yolmin and Keily, who are currently volunteering with us during their school break. Our history means so much to us because it reminds us of how much growth we have accomplished in just a few short years, and the impact it has made on the community.
History of PEP 2
The first PEP2 was held in one of the local churches for about 2 years. The pastor was nice enough to allow us to use it for such a long period of time. Sadly, the church was not enough space for our kids who bring so much energy to class every day. This led us to move to another location which we were given permission to use by another pastor. The new property we would be moving into was a fixer-upper with only a dirt floor, but we were grateful for the generosity shown and got to work pouring a concrete floor within the first few months. For us, something is always better than nothing. Unfortunately, the large shed did not have any windows or electricity, which meant we needed to keep the doors open. This allowed kids to run out and dogs to run in. It also did not have a bathroom, which can be problematic. This led us to then search for another location to have our PEP2 classes.
We found a temporary spot for PEP 2 in February of 2016. A local woman named Rebecca was intrigued by our programs. Rebecca is the head of the parent’s group at the local elementary school and she sends her children to our programs. She invited us to use a building on her property. The location was perfect but the building was not. It is a metal and wood shed, again with a dirt floor and no electricity or bathroom. Several of our volunteers were able to build a lovely awning to protect students from the weather and to gain more space, and thus our indoor-outdoor classroom began! This classroom allowed us to accommodate the large amount of kids that wanted to attend. However, as rainy season was slowly coming upon us, we knew that the building would only be a temporary fix.
With all of this, we were actively looking for a location to call our own. We wanted a place that we could truly call a classroom and be a safe and comfortable learning environment for our students. We actually reached out to Dole, the pineapple company, to see if a donation of land would be possible. The initial process showed to possibly be fruitful, but in the end it got bogged down in approvals and time was against us. Luckily, one day, in May of 2016, due to many of our dirt roads being closed off for paving, Liz and Eve drove down a road that they usually do not take. This is where they saw a building for sale that is perfect for what we need. Fundraising began almost immediately after, and with an outpouring of support from former volunteers, friends, family, and just folks who care about El Porvenir, we are now fortunate to call that building PEP2. We are still quite thankful to Rebecca who allows to still use the location we were previously at since sometimes we still need extra space.
The plan in the near future is to build an awning at the new location as we did at Rebecca’s. We will also be working on making the outside class area functional by adding concrete tables and benches. This will allow students to work in smaller-groups inside and outside the class. Currently, we are fundraising for laptops for this location and we hope to install Wi-Fi also.
If you would like to donate please click HERE.
Edited by Acacia Ragona