Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May Newsletter

May Newsletter
After the heat of April we are all looking forward to the rainy season. It has been so many months since the last rains that it is hard to believe that in a couple weeks the rain will start and not stop for several months.
April has been another month of planning and preparing for future projects. The parent groups at both Ruiz Castillo and Anne Frank completed applications to solicit funds to build kitchens in their schools. We have met with the Ministry of Education in Managua, with builders, and with school administration.

Seeking Sponsors
Proyecto Laguna currently has 685 students registered in our sponsor program and that number is growing all the time. Less than 20% of these children are currently sponsored.
We have a big school supply distribution coming up in July and we hope to have more children sponsored by then.
Sponsorship costs $100 a year and your sponsored child is provided with shoes, uniform, backpacks, and school supplies at the start of the year, a supplemental packet of school supplies in June, basic medical care, and supplies are provided to their classroom.
Please take the time to sponsor a child today. Child’s sponsorships make great gifts.

Medical Support
Proyecto not only provides basic medical care through our school nurse but we have also been able to help children with serious medical problems.
Last week as Jennifer was at the Anne Frank school she was approached by a woman who reported her daughter had been having severe abdominal pain for over a week, she couldn’t walk and she couldn’t eat. The mother couldn’t afford transportation to a doctor’s office let alone the price of the doctor and asked if Proyecto Laguna could help. Dina, the school nurse, accompanied this mother and daughter to a doctor and an ultrasound appointment in Masaya and a follow-up with an endocrinologist. The doctor reported that the little girl had a blocked colon that was threatening to perforate her small intestine. Luckily, we were able to start treatment before this little girl needed surgery, a colostomy, or had a dangerous infection due to a perforated colon.
Proyecto Laguna has paid for CT scans for an epileptic girl and medications to manage her epilepsy which has significantly reduced the frequency of her seizures. We have bought orthopedic shoes and/or braces for several children. We have paid for a dermatologist for a child with severe eczema and a physical therapist for a child with congenital hip dysplasia. We have purchased thousands of dollars in prescribed medications that families can’t afford to buy.
When we are approached by a family with a child in medical need, we pay for the treatment if we have the funding. If we don’t have the funding we seek it out.
When you donate to the general fund of Proyecto Laguna you help us meet the medical needs of children in Diria.

The cobblers just finished an order of 124 shoes which were distributed to the children last week. So far this school year we have provided 328 pairs of shoes to children in need. Not only has this benefited the children but it has also provided employment to cobblers in Diria. We have about 20 more pairs of shoes that we plan to make, for sponsored children.
Please help us ensure that all of the children in Diria have shoes to wear by sponsoring a child or making a donation today.

Incentive Program
Proyecto Laguna is currently launching a new program in the hopes of rewarding and motivating students. Proyecto Laguna is going to provide a monthly “reward” to two students in each classroom. The rewards will go to the student with the best grades and the student with the best attendance and effort. Rewards will be something small, a fancy pencil, or a small coloring book. We hope that providing this reward will help motivate students to work hard in their class. As part of this program, we will also be providing larger rewards to the top students in these two areas at mid-year and at the end of the year.

Thank you
We would like to thank Rebecca Krzywda for her help with our accounting. Rebecca has been kind enough to assist us in setting up our accounting program and teaching us how to use it. Thank you Rebecca!

Thank you to everyone who made a donation in April, especially those of you who renewed your child sponsorships. We can’t do the work we do without your donations. Thank you for deciding to help a child in Diriá, Nicaragua to succeed in school and in life.

April Newsletter

April Newsletter
March has been a month full of holidays, fundraising, planning, and setting goals for the future. Semana Santa fell in March this year. Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter and is the biggest holiday of the year in Nicaragua. School was out for a week as many people went to the beach and/or participated in innumerable street processions. Semana Santa is a beautiful week where the churches are decorated with flowers and fruit, fireworks are constantly going off, and there are frequent parades in the streets.

March was a great month for us for fundraising. We are very thankful by the generosity of our donors. Tracy Finch, co-founder, utilized a vacation to the states to do fundraising in Maryland and Virginia.

We are continuing to work with the Living Earth Institute on the water-tank/rain gutter project, and with the Ministry of Education on the school gardens project. Also, we are starting construction this month on remodeling the preschool at Anne Frank.

A Family in Need
Blanca is a single mother of 3 children; Alondra, Miguel, and Isidro. Recently, Blanca separated from the father of these children because of domestic violence. She now is struggling to get by. Blanca has no stable source of employment. She takes in washing and does odd jobs when she can find them. She is struggling to provide adequate food to her children and doesn’t have any extra money to provide them with school supplies, shoes, or medical care.

Blanca’s children have been enrolled with Proyecto Laguna for a year, but have not yet been sponsored.

Isidro is 7 years old and in the 2nd grade. He reports that his favorite food is bread and butter and he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. Miguel is 8 years old and in 4th grade. He likes to play basketball and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Alondra is a charming little preschooler who likes playing with dolls.

To help these children succeed in school and in life please sponsor one or all of them now. Sponsorship is just $100 a year per child and provides the child with all necessary school supplies, shoes and uniform, basic medical care, and provides didactic supplies to their classroom. To sponsor these children please contact us at info@proyectolaguna.com.

This month we worked with the parent groups at Ruiz Castillo and Anne Frank to set goals for this school year. The parent groups both set the goal of building a kitchen with an attached cafeteria.
Currently, one mother from each classroom cooks each day, on a rotating schedule. The mother picks up the dry rice, beans, and corn and the next day brings it to the class for lunch. This system is difficult and inefficient. The parents, who already have scarce resources, are responsible for providing wood to make a fire to cook and for paying to grind the corn. If a mother forgets to pick up the food, the children in that class don’t eat, and sometimes food gets picked up from the school but never makes it back. It is also hard to control food hygiene when the food is prepared off site.

With a school kitchen only three mothers a day, on a rotating schedule, would have to cook. Two would prepare rice, beans and cereal, and one would prepare tortillas. There would be less wood used because all of the food would be prepare in one large batch instead of several small batches. And a cafeteria would provide an eating space for the children to use where we could ensure there are always available plates, cups and silverware-currently some children do not eat lunch because they cannot afford to buy a plate to keep at school.

The parent groups are currently working on writing up a proposal soliciting donations for this project. The photo in this section is of the parents and school directors at Anne Frank who are applying for funding for a kitchen.

We estimate that the cost of building a kitchen is $3000 with $2500 extra for the attached cafeteria. If you are interested in donating toward this project please contact us. If you are interested in fundraising at your school, church, place of work, or other organization, for this project, please contact us, and remember all donations are tax deductible!!

Fundraising Success in March
“A Night for Nicaragua” charity event was a success. The Kiss Café in Baltimore, was gracious enough to donate the event space and cook delicious Latin/Caribbean food. Over $3000 was raised for Proyecto Laguna including 12 new child sponsorships.

On Easter Sunday, Tracy Finch, our co-founder, spoke at the Westminster Church in Richmond, Virginia. Tracy gave a presentation on our project; what we do, why we are here, and what the realities of life in Nicaragua are. Parishioners donated over $2000 including 18 new child sponsorships. The Parishioners reported they were touched by Tracy’s speech and that the pictures she showed helped make the stories real.

Last week we received a check from the Baraca Bible Class from Westminster for $1248! In an attached note they told us, “we especially liked the fact that you seem to have found the best solution to empowering people to help themselves.”

We would like to say Thank You to the Kiss Café, Sammy Williams at Westminster Church in Richmond, VA, and the Baraca Bible Class. We truly appreciate all of the support you have given us!

Pre-School Remodel
The pre-school building at Anne Frank is in a state of disrepair. The walls are crumbling, the wooden beams holding the tin roofing is rotting, the paint is chipping off, there are no lights or electric sockets in the classroom, and the room is dark and uninviting.
Next week we will start construction and remodel this classroom. We plan to replace the wooden roof beams with metal, replace the roof, replace the doors, expand the windows, connect electricity, and patch the walls. We also plan on adding an attached office that will be used by the directors of the school. Currently the directors have a very small room that is sectioned off from a classroom by a bookshelf. We will build an office that is attached to the preschool that has a storage room in the back to store the dry rice and beans for the school lunch and plenty of space for the directors to work.

We are very excited for this project and look forward to working with the parents of Anne Frank who are will be volunteering their labor for this project.

Thank you
Thank you to everyone who made donations this month. We depend on your donations to make a difference in the lives of the people of Diria.