At the beginning of 2019, Sueños moved into our new home - The Sueños Educational Center! The center is located just one block from the central park (where our students and families work) and is on the second floor of a lovely cafe. We have two small classrooms and a small outdoor patio to use for all of our classes.
Maintaining a consistent location for our classes has been a monumental change for us that has greatly impacted our work. Our students have become more consistent, and most are now attending classes every day instead of sporadically as they did in past years.
Our center has also allowed us to have the physical necessities of a classroom that we never were able to achieve in our rotating spaces last year. In March, we were able to purchase tables for our space, and we’ve had whiteboards, a printer and a computer donated for our use. A group of volunteers from Colegio La Salle, a local private school, has even donated their old classroom decorations so that we can decorate - the theme for this module is Under the Sea!
Also in March, we began serving hot lunches to our students. Thanks to our Nutrition Sponsors we can now provide a complete meal for all of our students in each class. These meals help our students to get the nutrition that they need, for some of them, this is the only formal meal they eat in a day. The meals also help parents to prioritize sending their children to Sueños instead of sending them to work during the afternoons. We still need the support of additional Nutrition Sponsors to guarantee hot lunches in all of our classes for the rest of the year. If you're interested in becoming a sponsor please visit our sponsorship page.
A quick update from each of our programs:
Soñadores moved from 3 to 4 days-a-week this year, and the effects have been powerful. We have a more consistent group than ever! Our most consistent students this year are also the students with the most need - they come from families who are in more severe poverty than the other families we work with and therefore face many hardships such as starting school late or abandoning school at a very early age (as early as 6 years old), poor nutrition, little or no access to medical care, violence within the home, and severe psychological and emotional problems. As we learn more about their needs, we are putting our heads together to figure out how to support them as best we can now and into the future.
Sueños en Acción began a partnership with Teens Inc in Philadelphia that allows our teens to learn about managing money and entrepreneurship as they run a small business selling woven bracelets. The project has brought in 4 new teens to our program so far and we hope that attendance will grow. Our teens keep 50% of their bracelet profits and donate 50% of it to Sueños to support the costs of their program. With their part of the profits, they are learning how to save and manage their money while they continue to grow their business.
Pequeños Soñadores though feedback from parents who participated in the program last year was stellar, this year it has been harder for moms to prioritize bringing their small children to classes once a week. The biggest hurdle for moms is that they lose time at work, as they are all street vendors and lose out on sales if they are not working. We are hoping that offering lunch to families will help them to make the financial sacrifice of coming to class, and we are also looking for new parents who may be interested in attending.
Mujeres en Acción is working on women's empowerment with the mothers of our students. At our first workshop moms talked about some of the skills they need to be empowered women. They talked about social and political participation, speaking their mind without fear, and taking action based on their own beliefs regardless of what others think. When asked if they could identify people in their community who embody these practices they spoke about the women who run Sueños - specifically for participating in the Women's March on International Women's Day.
We are still looking for Program Sponsors who can help us to guarantee these four programs all year. If you are interested in supporting one of the programs check out our sponsorship page!