A group of 16 students

A group of 16 students

Hope volunteers lend a hand in the Dominican Republic

A group of 16 students, parents and teachers are working at C.E. Barry's sister school during spring break

Sixteen students, parents and teachers are spending spring break at C.E. Barry’s sister school in the Dominican Republic.

The group will help repair desks, gravel roads, and build a new classroom at Ecole Ebenezer for a power mechanics shop. Students from C.E. Barry, Coquihalla Elementary and Hope Secondary will also have the opportunity to lead sewing camps, coach sports camps, participate in classroom projects, and experience what daily life looks like for Haitian children living in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s going to be a lifetime learning experience,” said Kathy Koopman, a retired C.E. Barry teacher involved with building and maintaining the school. “This will be a great opportunity for students to witness the positive changes they have helped to create.”

Ecole Ebenezer was started seven years ago in the village of Munoz to provide education to children that are not allowed to attend the nearby public school. The town used to be a sugar cane planation, but was shut down five years ago when demand for sugar declined. The population ranges from 400-500 people at any given time.

“They have no jobs, they live in shacks and have no chance of living legally in the Dominican Republic,” said Koopman, adding most children in the village don’t have birth certificates. “When we started the school, we basically adopted the village. There are hundreds of Haitian villages like this. Our ultimate goal is to eventually be able to take this village and put them back into Haiti where they’ll be able to give something back to society and have some future.”

New Life Community Fellowship in Victoria helps sponsor Ecole Ebenezer. Donations help provide school uniforms, teachers, books, clean water, a meal for the kids every day, and monthly medical and dental clinics.

For more information on the project, visit www.newlifevictoria.com.