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ISSUE 21, JULY 2003
Registered Charity No. 1028085




After one year in a customs warehouse, Chase De Vere pens finally reach the
pupils of the Santa Rosa School
As explained in our last newsletter (Issue 20, November 2002), In May last year Santa Rosa Fund
supporter and (then) Chase De Vere employee Justin Blower had arranged for Chase De Vere
(CDV) to donate 2000 pens to the Colegio Autnomo Santa Rosa (the Santa Rosa School) in
Managua. As a result of a change of logo, the company had declared the pens redundant.
Accordingly, CDV bore the costs of freighting out from the UK to Managua four boxes of their
In June last year, the Nicaraguan Customs Service sent notice of the arrival of the pens to the
school, but also requested the payment of an import
tax of over US$900, an amount that was greater than
the value of the pens. Such a payment was obviously
impossible for the school; and in any case it violated
the spirit of the donation.
The Santa Rosa Fund (SRF) was informed of the
problem by Ren, the SRF representative in Managua.
We then contacted Xiomara Urbina in the British
embassy in Managua to ask if there was any way in
which the embassy could use its influence to grant a
waiver for the tax demand. Gary Scrobie, Deputy
Head of Mission in the embassy, who knows the
school, wrote a letter on our behalf to the
Administrative Director of the Ministry of Education,
Culture and Sports (MECD), Alejandra Lpez. In
response to this, last November Sra. Lpez sent an
excellent letter to Sr. Fausto Carcabelo, Director
General of the Nicaraguan Customs Service
requesting that the boxes should be exonerated from
the payment of taxes and should be released
immediately to the college.

The Santa Rosa Fund could not have asked for better cooperation. But still the pens were not
released. In December Virginia expressed the opinion that this failure to release the pens was
probably due to corruption, implying that the pens had probably been spirited away for sale.
Although the British embassy was again informed of the problem, there seemed to be nothing more
that could be done, at least until one of the SRF trustees or supporters visited the country.
In April and May this year, SRF treasurer Martin Mowforth visited Nicaragua and made two trips to
the Customs Service and warehouses next to Managua's airport. After five hours of being sent from
office to office and of accumulating a mountain of paperwork on the first visit, he eventually made it
into the warehouse. Almost incredibly among the stacks of boxes and crates of goods not retrieved
(because of a ludicrous bureaucracy), the four boxes of pens were found. At the last stage, however,
somebody noticed that all the stamps of approval, certification and exoneration collected from all the
different offices had been made on a copy of the original customs form. The original was required. A
copy was not good enough.
Well, at least it had been shown that the pens still existed and that the problem was one of excessive
bureaucracy rather than one of corruption. Moreover, Martin did not find all the customs officials
using Chase De Vere pens as he had expected.
At this stage it was dark and all the customs officials were leaving work. Nothing more could be
Two weeks later (2nd May) and the last full working day before return to the UK, Martin called at
the school to see if the original customs form could be found. Virginia and Elizabeth Toledo (subdirectora) dug through their filing cabinets and eventually re-discovered the original document. Off
to the Customs Service again - this time for a further 3 hour lesson in how to create a mountain of
paper and prevent people from retrieving goods from the Customs Service of Nicaragua.
But, finally, with the payment of a small tax (approx.
US$12), the four boxes of pens were released. They
were delivered to the school early the following Monday
One lesson the SRF has learnt from this episode is to
ensure that in future all boxes are sent by post with a UK
Customs declaration. Anything freighted out to
Nicaragua by a private company will receive the same
treatment by the Nicaraguan Customs Service as did the
CDV pens.
A last word to Chase De Vere: many thanks on behalf of
the Santa Rosa School and the Santa Rosa Fund. All the
pens are still in good working order and are being put to
good use. The spirit in which your donation was made is
much appreciated by all at the school.
And a last word to the Nicaraguan Customs Service:


The Ben Dalton Memorial Library

and Books For A Better World

The last SRF newsletter reported on the 1,160 (+ $50) received in last year's Special Library
Appeal. The following list shows that, apart from the construction of the library itself, the SRF has
spent a total of 1,581 : 88 on resourcing the library.
1.2.02 to Books For A Better World for approx. 100 books 265 : 12
1.7.02 to Books For A Better World for approx. 100 books 251 : 43
3.9.02 to Ren Zamora for obtaining 3 quotations for the shelving 16 : 73
24.1.03 Photocopying of shelving quotations 1 : 13
20.3.03 Construction of shelving in the library (US$900) 595 : 32
26.3.03 to Books For A Better World for approx. 200 books 452 : 15
Total1,581 : 88
With the exception of a plaque to commemorate Ben Dalton, after
whom the library is named (see SRF Newsletter No. 16), the Fund does
not intend to use any more of its general finances specifically to support
the library. The school has shown itself to be pretty adept at acquiring
books and resources from other sources in Managua -- particularly from
libraries already closed down -- and the school's management are aware
that our support could not be limitless after the construction of the
In December (2002) and January this year, Ren Zamora, the Fund's
representative in Managua, obtained three quotations for the building of
shelves in the Ben Dalton Memorial Library. These ranged from just over $600 to $900 and were
provided by builders in Managua. Money from last year's Library Appeal was taken over to the
school in March and deposited with Virginia Gmez Hernndez, the school's director. The decision
was left to Virginia with Ren and Martin (the SRF treasurer) breathing down her neck. She chose
the most expensive option, much to the relief of Ren who knows the work of the builder concerned
to be of a high standard. Work on the shelves should be proceeding as you are reading this
newsletter. Ren has promised to send pictures when they are finished and hopefully we can include
one of these in the next newsletter.
We are currently awaiting news of the final delivery of books from Books For A Better World
(BFABW), although we know that they have arrived in Nicaragua. Eduardo Bez, the Nicaraguan
representative of BFABW, had to go through the same lengthy and frustrating process as was
described in the previous article to extract the books from the Nicaraguan Customs Service.
BFABW was the major organisation featured in a US television documentary in October last year.
The programme won first place in the Associated Press Awards Serious Feature category earlier this
year, and the judges commented upon its "important work -- bringing books to impoverished
children of Central America". Our readers are once again urged to visit the website of BFABW to
learn more about its work:
SRF Newsletter July 2003, P.3

Latest visitors to the school

In April this year two supporters
of the Santa Rosa Fund visited
Managua, one for the first time
and the other for the first time as a
SRF supporter.
Jacky Rushall, who teaches in
Plymouth, visited Nicaragua to
establish a twinning link between
her school in Plymouth and a
suitable Nicaraguan school. She tells her story in the next article.
Tom Hore from Bristol, a regular SRF supporter who coordinates the work of
Friends of Morazn (see SRF Newsletter Nos. 8 and 11), also visited Nicaragua in
April. Friends of Morazn is a twinning link between
Puerto Morazn in Nicaragua and Bristol, and
specifically it supports the pre-school in Puerto
Morazn. Although Tom visited Puerto Morazn
and the Las Chicas II centre of the Asociacin
Quincho Barrilete (see later article) with Jacky and
Martin, unfortunately he missed the chance to visit
the Santa Rosa School by one day. Tom, however,
is an inveterate traveller and is sure to make it there
one day. His wife Christina missed the same chance
by one country, returning home from Costa Rica
rather than Nicaragua before Tom travelled up to

A Twinning Link for Los Pozitos

Santa Rosa Fund helps establish another twinning link
By Jacky Rushall
I applied for a sabbatical in December 2002 and was lucky enough to be awarded this opportunity.
The sabbatical scheme was offered to schools in challenging areas, with a high level of deprivation,
such as High Street School in Stonehouse, Plymouth, where I teach. The time taken could be up to
six weeks and how the money was spent was very flexible. The main criteria was that it should have
some benefit to the teacher, pupils and school.
My interest lay in travel and learning about other cultures. I also hoped to be able to help children in
a Third World country. I knew a little about the Santa Rosa Fund but not how it worked. So I rang
up June and Martin Mowforth who invited me along with them to Nicaragua to see for myself how
the charity worked. And so my adventure began.

The Fund arranged for me to observe many of the ways in which it helps projects in Nicaragua. As
the Fund was always looking to extend its help, visits were arranged to a number of needy schools,
with the possibility that I could form a twinning link with one of them.
Sister Mara-Jos Lpez of the Berriz order of nuns, which has a base in the town of El Viejo, was
instrumental in my search for a link. In the nuns' Land Rover we travelled for two hours up into the
hills of dry tropical forest in the Cosigina Peninsula and came to Los Pozitos -- the village of little
wells. It was love at first sight!
The village is a campesino community of 16 families with over 30 children in attendance at school.
Twenty-two of them are of primary and secondary grades, aged 8 - 19, and are taught all together in
one class by Melvin Jesus Sevilla Campos. Melvin lives in El Viejo but travels to Los Pozitos on
Mondays and returns on Fridays, staying each night in a small wooden room next to the old school
house (see photograph) and having meals cooked in turn by different families in the village. At
present a mum, Reina Mara Molina Das, teaches the pre-school children, usually about 10 - 12 in
The only cost which is met by the Nicaraguan government is Melvin's salary. Fortunately, however,
the village has been funded by Amigos de Holanda (Friends of Holland) to build a new purpose-built
schoolhouse -- see photograph. Members of the community, including the children, have built the
school themselves. When we visited, the new schoolhouse was not quite ready for use, and the only
equipment they had was a few tables. The parents have to provide everything that is required for
their childrens' education.
Martin and I returned the following week bearing gifts of school materials and an envelope of $200
for the purchase of resources, which I gave to the Committee of Parents which oversees education
in the village. The parents were delighted and I left puppets made by the children from High Street
School along with some photographs of and writing (in Spanish as well as English) about my class. I
also left a camera for them in the hope that they will reciprocate with photos and an exchange of
culture by writing to my school in Plymouth.
The community has no electricity; so life is hard. But everyone we met was so happy and
welcoming. And they seemed keen to establish a link with my school.
My journey was a wonderful experience and I learned so much about the politics and lives of people
in Central America. My lasting impressions of the Nicaraguans are of a very resilient, hard-working
and welcoming people who are delighted to receive help, but on their terms. Many thanks to the
Santa Rosa Fund for a life-changing experience.
High Street Primary School in Stonehouse has a website on which the twinning link
is featured. As the link is developed, the website will be updated. For more
information and photographs of the community, please visit the site at:

Asociacin Quincho Barrilete

Update on the street kids organisation
In March the Santa Rosa Fund's annual 100
donation to the work of the Asociacin Quincho
Barrilete (or Quincho as it is often simply called)
was delivered to the organisation in Managua.
Regular readers of previous newsletters will be
aware that Quincho is an organisation that
attempts to protect and advocate for street
children. Over the course of the last few years,
however, it has changed its nature to some
degree. Its current residents are principally
children who have been suffering some form of
abuse in their home.
Some of these are of
course street children, as
they have been thrown
out of their home, often
by the mother as a result
of the father's unhealthy
attention towards the
daughter. But others are
Quincho by hospitals,
dealing with abused
children and/or by the
Ministry of the Family,
which contains some
little bits of what
remains of the formerly
competent Nicaraguan
social services.
In many ways, Quincho's centres and
programmes do essentially the same job as they
used to when they accepted children direct from
the streets. They still provide medical treatment,
food, basic education, sex education, a safe
home, and training in a number of skills which
may in future help them to earn an income. They
also try, whenever possible, to reintegrate the
kids with their families, if and only if this can be

Infancia Sin Fronteras website:

achieved without further threat to the child.

The Las Chicas II centre in Managua serves as a
home for the girls. And while the Santa Rosa
Fund visitors were there in March and April, new
dormitories and a new bathroom were being built
as a second storey on top of the old building. The
main builders were the boys from Quincho's
boys' centre, strongly and willingly helped by the
girls from Las Chicas II.
The photo shows 3 of the girls having just moved
dormitory. Use of the
new dormitories will
release the old ones for
use as a sewing
workshop, an office and
a bakery (repostera).
Quincho now receives
most of its funding from
organisations in Spain,
China and Italy, and
Fronteras (Childhood
Without Borders). The
latter has covered most
of the new building
costs. The Santa Rosa
Fund's annual donation
comparison with the funding needs of Quincho.
But we do know that our small donation is
always much-appreciated and well-used. In the
past it has been used to purchase (on the same
day as it was delivered) medicines, clothes and
shoes and to pay medical fees for check-ups for
the girls.

The SRF trustees are currently considering

whether to increase the amount of the annual
donation in future years. If you have any views
on this, please let us know.

Villa Espaa Pre-School

(Previously Villa Germn Pomares Pre-School)
This is the third year in which the Santa Rosa Fund has supported the Pre-School at Villa Espaa
near the town of El Viejo. Villa Espaa was established in 1998 for homeless victims of Hurricane
Mitch. As an encampment of tents and temporary shacks made out of bits of cardboard, chipboard,
corrugated iron and plastic, it was given the name of Villa Germn Pomares, after a local hero of
the Nicaraguan revolution.
Last year, however, after almost four years of living in
their temporary shacks, new houses were finished for
the 130 families still there and they all moved in at the
same time. The new houses, one of which is shown in
the photograph, were built largely with the financial
help of the Spanish Red Cross; and as a mark of
recognition of this fact the name of the new settlement
was changed to Villa Espaa. (It is worth pointing
out that there are several other villages in this area
that also bear the name Germn Pomares.)
The Santa Rosa Fund's financial support is paid each
year directly to the Berriz order of Missionary Sisters
which has a base in the town of El Viejo. The nuns here assist many communities, schools, health
centres and building projects in this area, the Cosigina Peninsula of Nicaragua, the southernmost
point and principal town of which is El Viejo. The nuns administer the SRF money and make a
fortnightly payment to Veronica Ros, one of the two pre-school teachers in Villa Espaa. Luisa, the
other teacher, takes the morning pre-school class and Veronica takes the afternoon turn. The
Nicaraguan government is prepared only to make a payment of approximately US$12 per month
towards the costs of pre-school education. Our contribution of US$50 per month (which is
fractionally less than the average wage for a Nicaraguan teacher) is paid to Veronica by the nuns.
Luisa is also paid by the nuns from contributions made to them by other international organisations.
As well as providing early educational stimulus for the
children, the most crucial purpose of the pre-school is
that it allows the mothers to go out to work. Many of
the families in Villa Espaa are headed by single
women who are the only possible income earners in
the household. The provision of pre-school facilities is
therefore vitally important.
During her visit to the region to set up another school
twinning link, Jacky Rushall [see her report on pp. 45] visited the pre-school at Villa Espaa and saw for
herself the unbelievable energy and vitality that
Veronica puts into her work. The Santa Rosa Fund's
money is well-spent here.

SRF Newsletter July 2003, P.7

Enclosures with this newsletter:

Many thanks
To Mike Hunting

1. The Santa Rosa Fund Accounts for

The accounts have been audited by our own
in-house auditor, Rick Blower, and as always
have been submitted to the Charity
Commission. They have been thoroughly
discussed by the trustees, but all supporters
are more than welcome to make enquiries
about any items or all items included therein.
(We think it is worth pointing out to our
supporters that over 86 per cent of our
spending goes directly to all the initiatives we
support in Nicaragua - the first five items
listed in the expenditure.)

for organising the Kit Hill Grimpeur Audax

event (a time-limited, long distance cycle ride)
in March for the benefit of the Santa Rosa
Fund; and:

2. Forthcoming fund-raising events.

A separate list is provided. Please put these
crucial events into your diaries.

To The Legg family

for collecting the money from the participants.

BBC radio interview on Casa Alianza

On 18th February this year in the BBC Radio 4
'Taking A Stand' programme, Fergal Keane
interviewed Bruce Harris, Casa Alianza
regional director for Latin America
Programmes. For those who missed it, the
Santa Rosa Fund has a tape of the interview.
Please feel free to call us to borrow it.

IMF privatisation of Nicaraguan education

In March this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) threatened to cut off financial assistance to
Nicaragua because of a budget dispute between President Bolaos and the National Assembly. Bolaos'
proposed budget met IMF guidelines, but the legislature made changes that violated the terms of the
agreement with the IMF. Among those changes was a small increase in the wages of some 65,000 public
sector workers, teachers, police, healthcare and municipal employees. A new agreement was reached and one
element of the plan requires Nicaragua to continue to implement 'school autonomy' legislation that reduces
national government funding for schools. Under the 'school autonomy' system the government pays only the
teachers' salaries(*), some special training and some school repairs. Parents must provide the money for
additional salaries, desks, books and materials, electric bills and cleaning materials. The children clean the
schools. For many parents, these fees mean that their children cannot go to school. Given Nicaragua's very
high level of poverty, this 'autonomy' will exclude many children from primary education. It is reported
elsewhere that in Nicaragua 47% of students drop out of school, with a 34% urban dropout rate and 67% in
rural areas.
Dr. Gustavo Porras, General Secretary of FETSALUD, the health workers' union and President of the
National Assembly's Health Commission, claimed that many Nicaraguan children arrive at school hungry
every day -- "We receive constant reports from teachers of children fainting in their classrooms. Yet the
government allows the IMF to require the curtailment of any food supplement programme within the schools."
Criticising the IMF, the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH) said "the Nicaraguan people are the
victims of a new dictatorship, that of the IMF, which imposes fundamentalist economic models through
authoritarian and anti-democratic means. These models serve only to deepen our dependence and underdevelopment."
In addition to violating Nicaraguan law, the new IMF loan conditions contain requirements that violate US
law by imposing user fees for Nicaraguan children to attend schools. In November 2000, the US Congress
passed legislation requiring the United States to oppose any World Bank, IMF or other multilateral
development bank loan which includes user fees for basic health or education services, and to report to
Congress within ten days should any loan or other agreement be approved that includes such user fees.

Basic salary for a teacher is currently US$60 per month. It is estimated that the 'basic food basket' for a family of 5 is $2 66 per month.