About Lisa Van Engen


Fralan School

Fralan School

In Bani,we met a man named Francis who guided us around the town and showed us what we wouldn’t have noticed if he was not there. On the fifth day we got to visit Fralan Computer Services, which was started and is now run by Francis himself. In this school, they teach computer skills including accounting, pharmacy, economics, sales, and information technology where the students can get jobs in business and secretary services. Francis has teachers who teach 3 alternating shifts a day, morning, afternoon, and night. The students have to pay for their textbooks, and approximately 10 pesos a month for tuition, which equals to $0.25 CND. The teachers get paid by how much the work during the day. For one shift a day for the week, the teachers will get paid around 4000 pesos, which is $98.00 CND. Along with teaching us about the schooling available  we got an insight on how Francis got to this stage in his life. He started by telling us about his dream as a young kid about opening a computer school called Fralan. His friends knew how much he wanted to open a school, so they started to call him Fralan. Francis goes on to tell us about how it was hard getting the funding and materials to build the school and after lots or perseverance we was granted the land to build the school. When the plans were finalized and the building was about to start being constructed, he was offered a well-paying paying job in Santo Domingo that include very good benefits. After lots of thought and prayers, he decided to go with his school even though it was a huge risk. But the risk was worth it! The school was built, and classes started with great success. There has been ups and downs in the running of his school, and sometimes there is the fear of not being able to run the classes because of fund shortages, but he manages to make it through at the end of the day! Francis explains to us his dreams in a simple quote, “If you feed them in the morning, they will be hunger again in the afternoon. But is you teach them how to make food, they will never be hungry again!” Francis has inspired me personally showing me that no matter how big of dreams you have, and even though they might seem impossible, through perseverance you can reach them. The visit was very enlightening and encouraging to me, and many of the other girls on this trip.

Until next time!

Lisa 🙂


Day Two of the Dominican Republic

We started the day travelling to Barrio 41 (barrio means neighbourhood in spanish). This is where George’s school is located. All of the money raised though selling Pencils, Bricks, and Apples will be supporting the school. After introduction, we were divided into 2 groups, one to spend the day at the school interacting with the children, and the other going to the market, a walking distance away. Both groups thoroughly enjoyed learning about the culture and the daily routines of the Dominican Republicans. Through travels and discussion, our team thoroughly enjoyed making connections with the children, and their families. After both groups returned for lunch, we travelled to a near by health clinic and delivered an eye pressure test machine. As Mary assembled and taught the process of the optic machine, we toured the facilities and met an american doctor who has been living and working in the Dominican for 2 years-completing a fellowship in pediatrics. After learning about ho health care is provided, we continued exploration to an orphanage. Our tour guide, an American graduate in Public Relations, explained how our previous perception of an orphanage differs from how this orphanage is run. Though we thought that an orphanage would consist of a run down building, this place is actually quite new and still growing, consisting of a school, health clinic, gendered specific dorms, a kitchen, a recreational center, a park including a baseball and soccer field, and a special needs facility in the making. The children come to the orphanage to get an education and live together in a family setting with chores, and services required. After they have graduated highschool, they must give back to their home by working for a year at the orphanage. Currently, only 1 male has completed highschool and the year of service. In June, 15 students will graduate! And serve a year after. Following our tour, the guide explained that Dominican is driven economically by tourism, but it is not just a place to go to the beach.She completed the session by explaining the role of a volunteer, their typical lifestyle/schedule, as well as the process of applying and learning Spanish. For more information about volunteering or just general knowledge of the orphanage, visit www.nph.org. We returned to the retreat centre which is a teachers college. Dinner was the traditional rice and beans meal including pineapple and fried fish. Following dinner, the group gathered and had a reflection time, thus discussing our current ideas and experiences. Then an attempt to sleep with the rooster and dogs outside. Should of brought ear plugs…