By Megan Meadows, Esperanza International Intern | July 25, 2017

Esperanza Vision Trips: An Authentic and Transformational Experience

An Esperanza Vision Trip offers an opportunity for guests to witness transformational, Christ-centered development first-hand. During a four-day stay in the Dominican Republic, guests will be exposed to all facets of Esperanza’s work, model, and the people we serve.

What is an Esperanza Vision Trip?
An Esperanza Vision Trip offers an opportunity for guests to witness transformational, Christ-centered development first-hand. During a four-day stay in the Dominican Republic, guests will be exposed to all facets of Esperanza’s work, model, and the people we serve. From sitting in on a Banco de Esperanza meeting, to visiting an Associate business, to touring a local school and pastor-led water project, individuals attending an Esperanza Vision Trip will be provided with transparent insights into Esperanza’s daily operations and the impact made on the Associates we serve. By learning through our Associates as well as local staff and church leaders, guests will gain a better understanding about how holistic development is empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and build a life marked by hope and restored peace.

As Esperanza’s intern class of summer 2017, we had the opportunity to attend two Vision Trips during our stay in the Dominican Republic, one upon our arrival and the other accompanying Highland Park United Methodist Church. It was during this time that we had the opportunity to experience the value of Vision Trips and their ability to give guests a close-up view into the economic initiatives which Esperanza’s Associates are empowered. This is what we learned…

Why a “Vision Trip” and not “Mission Trip”?
Esperanza believes in vision trips, not mission trips. Our Associates feel empowered because they use their own money to start their own businesses to help their own family. With Esperanza’s support, our Associates are able to pave a better future for themselves and children. Because we give our Associates a hand-up rather than a handout, they have a sense of accomplishment and dignity.
Therefore, we desire our “Vision Trips” to align with our company’s methodology. Unlike a “Mission Trip,” guests will learn from the Associates rather than provide services or aid to them. A “Vision Trip” will allow individuals to grasp a better perspective and understanding of Esperanza’s “Vision” for the future of the company and our Associates.

What to expect?
An Authentic View into International Development
As I think back to our Vision Trips with Esperanza, what strikes me the most is how honest and accurate these trips depicted the day-to-day realities of offering microfinance services in the Dominican Republic.
It seems as if there is often pressure to seek to depict your organization in a seemingly perfect light. But, I don’t think Esperanza attempts this. During the Vision Trip, we all witnessed what it looks like to jostle down dirt roads, to get caught in the rain, and to wait for a Associates to arrive 30 min late. These parts may not be the most fun, but they reveal the power of the Loan Officers’ resolve and kindness, they show the resilience of the Associates, and they capture what bonds the Loan Officers and Associates together. In this sense, all of these things are part of the slow work that over weeks, months, and years allows us to walk alongside our Associates toward their hopes and dreams.

Strengthened Understanding of Microfinance
After spending almost two months working for Esperanza, we accompanied the Highland Park United Methodist Church on a Vision Trip. We were uncertain of what the experience would be like on this Vision Trip, but the experience exceeded any expectations we could have had. Seeing Esperanza’s operations through the lenses of the attendees validated the work that Esperanza is doing. I was not sure if the attendees would clearly be able to see the abilities, strength, and determination of our employees and Associates in just four days. However, they quickly and clearly grasped Esperanza’s struggles, victories, and vision. They learned how microfinance is a viable long-term solution to cyclical poverty rather than a quick-fix. They witnessed how Esperanza is so much more than a bank. They realized how Esperanza’s support allows our creative and intelligent Associates to create diverse and successful businesses. They saw how our employees tireless dedication helps improve the lives of their community, both financially and spiritually. They observed how Esperanza truly empowers Associates to fulfill their full potential.

Transformation of the Heart
Vision Trips truly brings Esperanza’s work to life. Although individuals can read the stories on the blog, they cannot be fully prepared for how the Lord will move their heart during their time in the Dominican Republic. Although some of the experiences our attendees had on the Vision Trip weighed heavy on their heart, they also witnessed the joy and hope that radiates from our employees and Associates. To gain a better understanding of the vision that Esperanza has for the incredible people in the Dominican Republic, join us on a Vision Trip and see our operations first hand. Although we cannot completely prepare guests for what to expect on a Vision Trip, they should expect to be enlightened, inspired, and impacted during their time in the Dominican Republic.

Who can attend?
Anyone is welcome to attend a Vision Trip that wishes to. We welcome groups, families, individuals, churches and organizations.

When can I go on a Vision Trip?
Our upcoming Vision Trips are…

August 1-4
September 4-7
October 9-12
November 14-17

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Microfinance is a banking service which exists to serve the material poor in emerging economies. Through this lending process, loans are distributed to entrepreneurs for investment in their business.

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