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Hog for Kids 2009 Project

The HOG For Kids Project is designed to raise awareness and support for impoverished boys and girls in the Dominican Republic (DR). Many Dominican children grow up in extreme poverty, giving them a disadvantaged start in life. As these children transition to adolescence and later adulthood, breaking the cycle of poverty is daunting.

Gustavo Fernandez is addressing this situation by raising public awareness and support for underprivileged Dominican children. Gustavo, a San Francisco Bay Area based wedding and portrait photographer and native Dominican, combines his passion for photography and commitment to helping needy children in a two prong strategy to accomplish this goal.

First, Gustavo will embark on a cross country tour of the United States on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle (the HOG). This 2nd annual ride will include visits to clients and friends, with stops in at least 18 cities including Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburg and New York. Gustavo will perform a photo shoot of the children of these clients free of charge. In return Gustavo will ask them to support a needy child in the DR through the sponsorship program of Children International, an international humanitarian organization based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Gustavos clients will help address the needs of a Dominican child by paying the cost of sponsorship for one year, $264, through the Children International website. Children International programs provide medical and dental care and remove the barriers to getting an education. Gustavos goal is to acquire sponsors for at least 50 Dominican children on this trip. This trip will take place during July and August, 2009.

In the second part of his plan, Gustavo will undertake a two week photo project in the DR to capture the experience of poor children, focusing on the children his clients have sponsored. The photos will portray the children in natural settings at home, at play in their neighborhoods, at work and at school. The photos will show the spectrum of their human needs, aspirations and potential.

Gustavo will publicize the project and display the DR photos through a combination of social media outlets. Gustavo will document the U.S. cross country tour and the DR trip on his daily blog and Twitter and create a Facebook page where people can go for project updates and view video clips. Gustavo will also seek publication of the photos in magazines with wide circulation such as Rangefinder and Professional Photographer and local magazines like Diablo Mag. A radio talk show is considering highlighting the project as well.

Located in the Caribbean, the DR is about twice the size of New Hampshire and has a population of nearly 10 million. 42% of Dominicans are considered poor, with many families earning $2 or less per day. The public schools are overcrowded and 59% of Dominican youth are not in school, one of the highest dropout rates in Latin America. Many children are unable to attend school because their parents cannot afford the required supplies and uniforms. Only 58 percent of children reach the fifth grade. Clapboard houses with dirt floors are common and create unhealthy living conditions where children often get sick. Respiratory tract infections, malnutrition, parasitic infections and gastrointestinal disease are the most common health threats. Government health clinics are inadequate, overcrowded and often inaccessible.

The result of this project will be to help 50 needy children grow to be healthy, educated and prepared to meet the challenges of adulthood while raising awareness about child poverty around the world.