"working towards a healthy development for youth in especially difficult circumstances"
Stories of Hope from Former Integración Juvenil Participants
(Interviews given by Dońa Rosa Salcedo, translations by Michael Lisman; 2001)
DARIO ALVARDO GONZALEZ (ODANIS)
Odanis attended Integración from 1985 to 1988. The teachers at Integración Juvenil had been visiting his barrio in 1985 and invited him to participate. “There they educated me, I learned a lot, how to work with my hands, how to work well with others, and I remember fondly my years that I spent there, above all with the teachers that were so good.”
He went on to finish high-school, and is now working. He has spent the next 11 years working with a local gasoline station, and now works as a cashier in a Money-Exchange Bank. He is married to Francia Estrella, has 2 kids, and has grown up to be a wonderful person!
ADRIANO POLONIA SANTANA (FERNANDO)
Fernando entered Integración Juvenil in 1986 and left in 1988, when he was 16. Before he began at Integración Juvenil, he had been working in the streets of Puerto Plata as a shoe-shiner. In order to provide the much-needed economic assistance to his family after he began at Integración Juvenil, he began selling newspapers intheafternoons. Like most kids at Integración Juvenil, Fernando was far behind in his formal education, and worked diligently with his teachers on catching up to his peers.
Today, he is a college-graduate in Accounting, and works as Costs Manager in the Hotel Camino y Paraiso del Sol (Ahmsa), where he has worked for the past five years.
“If it hadn’t been for Integración Juvenil, I would not be where I am today. I learned so much, I became a leader in my group, which brought up my self-esteem, and I learned to become creative. To work within a group, and to share. I even still have the pants I made when they taught us how to sew! I fondly remember Delia, Fausto, and Ada, who each taught me so much.”
SANDRA ALTAGRACIA ROBINZON
When Integración Juvenil encountered the young Sandra, her self-esteem and outlook on life was grim. “When I began at Integración Juvenil, I was 10 and dad had abandoned us,” Sandra explains. “It was there that I found a refuge, care, and I was taught so many things that have served to give a stable life.” Among other things, she attests to having learned how to sew, knit, and to interact healthily with other children – a tool she had never been given the chance to hone before.
Today, she is 28 years old, and has a happy family. She also works on the Free-Trade Zone of Puerto Plata using some of the concrete skills she learned at Integración Juvenil.
Sandra adds: “Everything I learned at Integración Juvenil, I teach (to the kids) today.”
MARTIN GARCIA MOGENA (CHARLI)
When Charli was 12, he earned his living as a shoe-shine boy, was illiterate, and had never been to school before. In the time that he spent with Integración Juvenil, he was able to become literate to a 6th grade level, and later went on to his 4th year of high-school. He has worked the past 17 years of his life with a business where he is counted on as a jack-of-all-trades; He is a trusted worker maintains contacts with the Medical Center, Pharmacies, Gas Stations, Farms, etc.
“I have to say that Integración Juvenil means everything to me; I learned to be a responsible and honest person there. It gave me the will to live, and my life has been very good – I am a happy man. When I was a little boy, my mother had a lot of problems with me, but now, even though I have lots of brothers, she says that I am the ‘light of her eyes.’”
JOSE ANDRES RIVERA
Andres works as an independent photographer and contributes regularly to Puerto Plata’s newspaper, El Faro. Today, he is married with two children, Nicole Andreina, and Mariagelis.
“One day when I was 12 during a visit that the educators of Integración Juvenil made to my barrio, they selected me and invited me to participate with them in their program. I remember all that I went on to learn because it was a lot of fun for me; we learned to enjoy ourselves. There was a game about synonyms where you became Doctor of Languages if you won, which was part of a workshop called 'I’m an artist, too.' We played listening to music by Bach, and I learned a lot, as well – grammar, classical music, among others. I am very thankful for all that I received in Integración Juvenil."
GREGORIO RAMON DEL ROSARIO
Gregorio attended Integración Juvenil from 1984 until 1987. When he was 12, he was shining shoes in Puerto Plata’s central park. He had gone to school up to 5th grade, and had no plans of going back.
The educators at Integración invited him to come and get to know the program, and he decided to participate. After his three years that he spent with Integración Juvenil, he was able to begin his first year of high-school, where he stayed through graduation.
He has since graduated college with a degree in Communications from the prestigious University Of Technology of Santiago (UTESA). He currently works as a radio announcer on Radio Puerto Plata and as messenger of Banco Nacional de Credito.
Gregorio has grown to be a kind and confident man, and with much humility and a great smile he expresses his satisfaction and thanks for the time he spent with Integración Juvenil.
“All that I am today, my dream of self-betterment, my friends, and my job – I owe it to what I was taught by the educators of Integración Juvenil.”
ANDREA CONSUELO BRITO
Andrea entered Integración Juvenil in 1983 as an older participant, though just three years after her rapid and solid progression, she became a pre-school teacher for the institution.
Andrea tells us: “Integración was very important for my personal and intellectual development, and I believe that it was a vital experience for me. Today, I am able to teach something of what I learned (to others). I’m thankful to all of those that worked for our betterment as human beings.”
She currently works in Puerto Plata’s Banco Popular (Popular Bank) as a Customer Service Representative.