“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Imagine if you couldn’t go to school simply because the school in your town was full. Actually not only full, but bursting at the seams with no overflow classrooms to accommodate you and more than 1,000 other kids in the area. Traveling to another school is not an option—it’s not in the budget—and getting an education is one of your only chances of making it, of allowing you to get a job that could sustain a family.

In 2006, VISIONS Dominican Republic teen volunteers broke ground on a two-year construction project for the community of San Luis (a municipality of Santo Domingo), building a school that would allow 600 kids to receive an education.

This year, we’re at it again.

With a rapidly growing population base, the San Luis community is facing another shortage of classroom space, with more than 1,500 kids in need of a school to attend. The community tried to respond to some of these demands by building four classrooms out of scraps and plywood. Unfortunately,  those additions haven’t held up, and a longer-term solution is needed. Today, the community needs at least six new classrooms to accommodate the prospective students, and once completed, the government is obligated to hire the teachers and faculty needed to support them.

The New DR Classroom Project

The new classrooms project will start this summer, and we are going to complete as many classrooms as time and volunteer hands allow. By summer’s end, our goal is that at least 600 new students will be able to start school.

Building classrooms is hard work, but we can’t think of anything quite so rewarding. Working with local project coordinators and maestros , the project involves leveling the ground, digging trenches, laying a concrete foundation, building rebar-reinforced cinder block walls, installing a roof, and even painting if time allows.

What it Means

Projects like these have lasting impacts on a community, and thousands of Dominican kids have been able to receive an education as a result of the many schools built by VISIONS and our partner organizations over the years. Education has proven to be the key to empowerment and success. For the kids of San Luis, we are helping to open doors to a bright future.

But although we are impacting these lives, it’s only a drop in the bucket. The lack of schools, school supplies, and teachers is a dilemma that is faced by many communities around the world.

As a small organization, VISIONS tries to help where we can. With a focus on construction projects—with at least one in the works in each of our program locations—we have skilled carpenters and local partners to guide participants through all of the steps of building. After 27 years of service projects worldwide, we have added new schools, community centers, and health clinics to communities like San Luis, and with our dedicated teens and leaders, we will continue to do so.

Led and organized by our well-seasoned DR Program Director Alberto Ramos, we are so looking forward to working again with the community of San Luis. (We will also be teaching in some of the very classrooms that we build!)

It’s amazing what a group of motivated teenagers can accomplish in one summer, knowing that eventually, because of their hard work, a lot of Dominican kids will finally have a place in school.