Friday, February 10, 2012

February 5th...From Kathy:

We are now here a whole month and there is never a dull moment. I seem to be in constant communication with Felipa (seen above right with new employee Isabel), our Centre coordinator, as there is a constant need for cash transfers! We discuss everything from food for the ancianas’ lunch to a new sewing machine or a pair of shoes for a scholarship student. We have hired Isabel, who has been volunteering part time for the last few months, as assistant to the coordinator. We interviewed 3 other young women and Isabel was by far the best candidate. She will be working a lot with our pre-school program for 4 & 5 year olds three days a week. It is quite a big leap for many of the poorest children to come from their homes where there is absolutely nothing to prepare them for the world of school.

Now that we have the scholarship students all set up, the school supplies doled out, the assistant hired, and the programs planned, we can actually start implementing the classes. They will start this week. For women there will be the ancianas’ (elderly women) lunch on Mondays, in between high school scholarship students tutoring primary students who need help with specific subjects (probably reading comprehension and maths). The high school students are required to participate in this in exchange for transportation money as they have to take a pick-op or van to school - there is no high school in San Antonio Palopo. Tuesdays there will be more tutoring in the morning, and in the afternoon there will be a group of women coming who want to learn useful conversational Spanish through dramatization, games, and whatever else we can think of!

The rest of the week in the mornings there will be the preschool (or escuelita), and in the afternoons more groups for women. There is one sewing class that includes embroidery and crochet and an introduction to sewing with electric sewing machines - and making little things. Women can make money embroidering their traditional clothing, table cloths, bed spreads, etc. Another afternoon there will be a cooking class combined with the not so hidden agenda of nutrition, health, hygiene, and family planning. (In fact all the classes will include some of this.)

Fridays in February will see a volunteer, Cathy Hargreaves from Nelson, BC, teaching a group of young women to sew sanitary napkins. They are really keen and it would be great to see them turn it into a small business. They are also making cushion covers and aprons.

Saturday mornings will be reserved for activities for about 20 children aged 10 to 13. It will be fun to see what they get up to in the next couple of months!

Meanwhile, rent for the Centre is to be negotiated… we are trying to figure out what is fair. We are making an effort to turn the Board of Directors (seen below meeting with Kathy) into a more active group with more responsibility and involvement.

Dianne Perry (below), a nurse from Victoria, arrived a week ago and has been making the rounds to see how she could help in the Puesto de Salud (health clinic) and the schools; she is teaching First Aid to teachers and grade 6 students.

And finally, Tricia Timmermans from Victoria is teaching English in the Centre Monday and Wednesday nights to a keen group of students. During the day, she joins fellow Victorians Dentist John Snively and Dental Assistant Maria Consalvo along with Ursula Cumez Calabay (of Santa Catarina Palopo) in the Lake Atitlan dental project where there are presently treating patients from San Antonio and Santa Catarina. 

Next installment in a few days!

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