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Unlike many large, faceless, non-profit organizations, The Esperanza Project is a small program run by founders and directors, Anthony and Fiona Austin who created the organization in 2009, out of a perceived need to provide a much needed educational and extra-curricular program in the town, giving children and teens an opportunity to explore, create, and inspire, whilst empowering them to grow academically and socially, in a safe, supportive, hands-on learning environment.

The Esperanza Project is located in the quiet, picturesque town of Cabrera on the beautiful North coast of the Dominican Republic. Cabrera is a small, unique town with very little tourism infrastructure, despite having some of the most beautiful beaches in the country all within a 10 to 20 minute drive of the downtown area. Along with the exceptional beaches, Cabrera also boasts home to several fresh water pools, waterfalls, and lush vegetation. Cabrera is a very special and unique little town which The Esperanza Project is incredibly proud to call ‘home’.

Meet the team…

Fiona Austin

Co-founder / director / teacher

Fiona, originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, is co-founder and co-director of The Esperanza Project, along side husband, Anthony. Fiona runs the administrative and directorial side of The Esperanza Project, and after taking some time out of the classroom surrounding the birth of their two young daughters, Fiona has recently stepped back into a teaching role at the program, where she feels right at home. Fiona received her certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language in 2007 and has several years of both teaching and summer camp experience before beginning The Esperanza Project.

Anthony Austin

Co-founder / director / teacher

Anthony, originally from Petersfield, England, is the co-founder and co-director of The Esperanza Project, along side wife, Fiona. Anthony holds dual certification in regular and special education from William Paterson University in New Jersey, USA, where we was awarded ‘New Jersey Student Teacher of the Year’. He has almost 10 years of teaching experience as well as several years of summer camp experience, in both counsellor and directorial positions, before beginning The Esperanza Project.

Lauren Gabriel Medina

Teacher

Lauren, originally from Maine, USA, joined The Esperanza Project in 2010 as a lead teacher and took no time becoming a key part of the organization as a whole. Lauren received her ‘Teaching English as a Second Language’ certification while teaching in Prague, Czech Republic in 2006 and has been teaching ESL to both children and adults ever since.

Shanon Romano

Teacher

Shanon originally from Ohio, USA,  joined The Esperanza Project in 2015 as a volunteer summer camp counsellor at Camp Esperanza. After falling in love with the program and the town of Cabrera as a whole, Shanon returned to the USA to complete her teaching certification in Early Childhood Education at the University of Findlay, only to return after graduation as a lead teacher at The Esperanza Project Educational Institute, where we hope she will remain for many years to come.

Frantz Orisme

Administrative Assistant

Frantz, originally from Haiti, was a recent graduate from right here at The Esperanza Project Educational Institute in May 2016. Since graduating, Frantz has returned to The Esperanza Project as a staff member, where he is working in administration. Frantz speaks four languages fluently including English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and French.

Volunteers

Since The Esperanza Project was founded in 2009, the organization has hosted over 150 volunteers. Volunteers have become an integral part of the program, joining for anywhere from 1 week to an entire school year. Volunteers get involved in all areas of the program, whether it is assisting lead teachers in the classroom, leading their own classes, or running activities at the summer camp program. The Esperanza Project could not exist without the help of our wonderful volunteer team from around the world.

(Find out more about how you can become a volunteer.)