How COVID-19 is Affecting Us

March 25, 2020

President Danilo, the president of the Dominican Republic, gave another moving speech this evening. The government plans to provide ongoing support to families living in poverty. We don't yet know how much of that will be extended to the Haitian immigrant community, including the families of our students. He mentioned this lock-down going on for months longer, so we have been making preparations with teachers, as it looks like school may not reopen this year.

Here in the Dominican Republic, labor laws are different than the United States and Canada. We have posted before about the mandatory extra month at Christmastime. However, I don't believe we have communicated about the severance that is required whenever terminating someone's contract.

We have some employees who now receive a severance at the end of each school year. Many are rehired in August. We have other employees who have ongoing contracts that have never been terminated. At this point, we have terminated our annual contracts, and plan on terminating some of the continous ones.

This gives these employees a sum up front to to get them through these times, and the unpredicted termination of the contracts (while the plan is to renew most when school starts again) potrays the reality of the situation that Project Esperanza is not a private school where parents pay tuition and profit is earned, nor is it a government institution with a reliable source of income from taxes. It is funded primarily by private sponsorships abroad and donations built into volunteers' trip fees.

We also hope to provide some care packages of at least rice, beans, and oil for the families of our students. The funds raised recently for the new afternoon school are being used to pay the afternoon teachers through March and have been already used to pay the severance of some of our employees with annual contracts.

We had halted on contacting student sponsors, asking for renewals for students who had not yet been sponsored this school year, as we knew that times are uncertain for everyone. We have dozens of students that have not yet been sponsored this school year. We are going to go ahead and start contacting sponsors who have not renewed as we do need to complete funds to carry out these aforementioned actions.

Thankfully, we have a wonderful group of monthly sponsors whose consistent support will allow us to continue making mortgage payments on the two school buildings, pay a few employees that will not have their contracts terminated during this time, and also contribute to the other severances and hopeful care packages.

Please email with any questions. Thank you and God bless!