At the time, Debora was working for Family Guidance Center as a Mental Health Counselor. Her goal was to work three years and then begin her dream and start a mission in the Dominican Republic. In May of 2002 Debora and Ruben left for the Dominican Republic to continue the mission they started helping the children in one of the poor barrios.
Once there, they built a place to gather the people, and provided health fairs, bringing doctors, dentists and nutritionists together to help the people, especially the children. As time passed, Debora noticed that the children weren’t going to school. When she asked why, they showed her where the closest school was and told her that children had been killed crossing the dangerous roads to get to school in the next village. Others injured themselves climbing the hills; breaking arms and legs because the road they had to walk was paved with big sharp stones.
Debora went up the hill to see the school and came down realizing that it was not a safe place for children. She remembers the time was about 3 p.m. and it was then that she called the community together to announce that she was having open registration for a new school. At the time she didn’t have a place for the school or teachers, and one more thing, she didn’t have any money!
Two hundred children and their mothers came and registered that day. One mother who came to register her children asked while looking around, “Debora, where is the school going to be!” Debora showed her the empty lots they had purchased for this mission project. The mother replied, “and it’s going to be finished by the time school starts?” And Debora said “yes”. Debora didn’t know what was going to happen but one thing she did know was that the needs of the children had to be filled.
Debora hired six teachers, rented a small house, and asked the people that were in charge of the churches to let them use their place for the school during the day. Everyone refused. Debora knew she had to do something fast, so she asked for information about the women in charge of the catholic church. She went to her house and introduced herself. Then she told her “You are closing the doors of opportunity to the children of this community. You are the church of this community and tomorrow these children are going to know what you did. But if you open the doors for them to get an education, tomorrow they will remember who did it.” She gave Debora the keys right away.
What followed was one long month of hard work. The children didn’t have any discipline whatsoever; lots of them were not used to being in school so the teachers had to start from scratch. By the end of the month, it was pay day. Ruben and Debora were sitting on the porch of their home and Ruben asked “Now tell me, how are you going to pay the teachers tomorrow?” Debora didn’t answer, she only pointed to the sky. Not even ten minutes went by when a motorcyclist came to the house and asked for Debora. He brought enough money to pay everyone the next day.
Ruben did not like the idea of starting the school at this time because they didn’t have any money, but forced by the needs they witnessed, Debora started it anyway. From that day, God has not failed them yet.
Currently, Misión Tú Puedes enrolls students from preschool to grade 12 with approximately 500 students enrolled. Since our first high school graduation in 2010, about 30 students gave graduated each year. In 2011 we began Sunday Adult Classes for students who had not yet received a high school diploma. Since then approximately 30 to 40 have received their high school diplomas annually. Both graduates from Misión Tú Puedes and the Sunday Adult classes have the opportunity to attend either college or post-high school courses which will lead to employment. Our Pathway to College program gives scholarship grants to students who qualify.
In March of 2012 major construction began with the building of a third floor, new roof and staff offices. With the help of a grant given to the Hermandad Foundation, Misión Tú Puedes had a reliable water system installed that provided water to the two new bathrooms on each of the three floors and in the new staff building. Funding sources also provided much needed office furniture, white boards for the classrooms, library furniture and a security fence around the property. Both interior and exterior painting gives the school a professional look and the front entrance is welcoming to visitors and provides space for student gatherings. Praise God, who is forever faithful!
The red heart represents the love of God for all humans. It symbolizes peace which is very important to Mision Tu Puedes. The color red represents the fire of love that builds a life filled with faith, fire, action, passion, and strength.
The sprouting seed is a symbol of humankind that grows and becomes like a flower or tree in fertile land. We hope that their branches and leaves provide shade in the morning, to all who need it. Waiting for the rain that allows for growth, their roots deepen with faith, love and wisdom. The green represents the growth and development that will be evident in the lives of the students of Tu Puedes.
The two hands of two different colors represent all humanity. On the right, the top hand is holding the heart as a gesture of hope, love, healing, and action to open doors guiding people confidently along the way. On the left, the bottom hand – open extended toward the heart – represents humanity and the struggle get help, looking for a bright and a better future, and an opportunity to succeed.
Board of Directors
- Debora Damiani (Founder)
- Ruben Damiani
- Alexandra Barrera
- Jack Ballo
- Barbara Ballo
- Edna Clark, SC
- Julia Heslin, SC
- Delta Terrero
- Rev. Raul Terrero