Give the Gift of Education this Holiday Season!

Give the Gift of Education this Holiday Season!

The holiday season is fast approaching and as your thoughts turn to gift giving, consider purchasing unique gifts for your loved ones while also supporting a worthy cause. Sprig of Heather Artistry donates the proceeds from website sales to humanitarian and environmental projects. This blog will tell you about one of those projects, a school for children of cane-cutters in Dominican Republic (DR).

Some of the Cane-cutter Rural School Students. Photo: Sarah Katz
Finally back to school with masks! Photo: Sara Katz

In 2018, we went to the DR for a holiday, staying on the north shore, near Puerto Plata. I made contact with a group runs a school for children who have no access to government education because they are considered Haitian refugees (despite being born in the DR).  

The students’ families originally came from Haiti as day-laborers in the sugar cane fields. After the sugar factory closed, they stayed, finding intermittent work in construction or selling wares on the streets of Puerto Plata and surrounding areas. The children are often involved with sustaining the families by working in the streets as shoe-shine kids or fruit sellers. Other kids work in construction or on farms. A practical positive way was needed give the migrants a practical way to improve their lives and hope for a better future. That’s when interested volunteers started a school in an old rural corrugated iron building. 

Rural DR Landscape with village in the background. Photo: Heather Sinton

Their vision for the project is to enact Nelson Mandela’s belief that, “Education is the most powerful way to change the world.” A basic formal education is the focus, but life enhancing activities like health education and growing vegetables are also taught. Since hungry children can’t learn effectively, the project also supplies a daily meal and clean drinking water. Living in outlying isolated rural areas, some of the students walk up to an hour to reach the school.

Youngest students in the classroom. Photo: Sarah Katz

It is wonderful to see how the students flourish despite their impoverished backgrounds and often difficult home lives! The school is a haven, a source of strength for the present plus a sound base for the students’ futures. In addition, the students take the learning back home and the families are involved in the school. They have the use of a better building now, and have constructed an outdoor games area and a garden. 

School Garden. Photo: Sarah Katz

The project is coordinated by Sarah Katz, who having worked with homeless people in Britain, recognized the power of education to change people’s lives. She and a number of dedicated volunteers and supporters, teachers, and local community members work hard to break the cycle of poverty and give these students and their communities new opportunities and a brighter future.

Students shelling peas from the school garden. Photo: Sarah Katz

Your purchase through sprigofheather.ca will help to support this worthy cause. You can find more information on their website: http://www.canecuttersruralschool.org

The DR is a beautiful hilly country. Photo: Heather Sinton


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