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Registered Charity No. 1028085

Issue 26, November 2005


(BBC News) Residents desperate to recover whatever they could from floodwaters

Whilst much of the world's attention has understandably and appropriately been focussed on the earthquake victims of Pakistan, Central America has again been bearing the brunt of a number of

SRF Newsletter Nov. 2005, P.1

hurricanes and tropical storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The worst of these in October was Hurricane Stan which caused the deaths of about 1,000 people, mostly in Guatemala and El Salvador. As has been the case in a number of such disasters in the past in Central America, most of the casualties and property destruction resulted from the flooding caused by the hurricane. In Nicaragua, the death toll came to 11 as a result of Stan and it seems that our partner organisations in the country escaped the worst of the impacts.

At the time of Hurricane Stan, two British students, Katie and Sarah Miles from Birmingham University, were working in the town of El Viejo with the Berriz Missionary Sisters, one of the Santa Rosa Fund's partner organisations in Nicaragua. They were there after contacting the Santa Rosa Fund for assistance with a M.Sc. research dissertation. María-José, one of the nuns, wrote to us saying:

"I hope your students' experience was a good one. I think it was very hard for them because there was extremely heavy rain and just as they arrived the municipality's emergency committee was being re- formed to kick-start the emergency procedures that we had in place during Hurricane Mitch [1998]. In the end, it turned into a tropical storm and our area wasn't as badly affected as many others. So the students were able to finish their work."

Computers at the Santa Rosa School

their work."  Computers at the Santa Rosa School Our last two newsletters have reported on

Our last two newsletters have reported on the deliberations of the Santa Rosa Fund trustees regarding the appropriateness of purchasing computers for the Santa Rosa School. As the last newsletter reported, all reaction to the idea has been positive, and so the trustees prepared an application for three-way match funding from the British embassy in Costa Rica (which serves British interests in Nicaragua), the Anglo-Central America Society (ACAS), and the Santa Rosa Fund. The application was prepared in conjunction with and with the approval of the school's director, Virginia Gómez de Guillen, and other members of the staff.

The application covers the purchase and installation of four computers and two printers at the school, electric fans for cooling, all the necessary computer accessories, an allowance for the extra costs of electricity at the school, training for the staff and repair and guarantee conditions for the equipment. The total cost of the planned system amounts to US$12,188 (approx. £6,750), of which the Santa Rosa Fund will be expected to provide US$2,437 (approx. £1,400, or 20 per cent). Trustees of the Fund believe that a reasonable proportion of this amount may be found from within our normal annual income after meeting all our other funding commitments for 2006. But it is possible that we shall have to mount a special appeal or special fund-raising events, depending on the success or otherwise of our usual fund- raising events and subscription renewal call (which accompanies this newsletter). In any case, our normal yearly funding commitments with various educational causes and projects in Nicaragua will be met for the year 2006.

The application was submitted in early October to the two other organisations, from each of which 40 per cent of the costs is sought. At the time of printing of the newsletter, we have not yet heard the results of their deliberations, although we hope to do so before the new year. We have heard, however, that an official of the British embassy has recently made a visit to the school in Managua, although we cannot say whether this is in any way associated with the application.

Five trustees of the Fund will be visiting the school in Managua (at their own cost) in January 2006, and it is hoped that the fate of the application will be known by then so that they can be actively involved in the purchase and installation of the system. In the event of the application being rejected, their presence at the school will allow full discussions with Virginia and the staff on how to proceed with the idea of providing some form of computer capability and training at the school.


As the last page mentions, five Santa Rosa Fund trustees will be visiting Nicaragua this coming January and will be delivering our annual commitment of funds for the following projects and causes.

At the Santa Rosa School:

Pmoney for monthly purchases of materials @ US$100 (approx. £60) per month; PUS$250 (approx. £140) each for the 3 mini-funds:

-the Hardship Fund -the Teacher Training Fund -the School Journeys Fund Pan annual bonus payment to each member of staff


An annual donation of US$360 (approx. £200) for materials and equipment for the Las Chicas II centre of the Quincho Barrilete Association, a street childrens' organisation in Managua.


At the Germán Pomares Pre-School in Villa España:

Pthe annual salary of US$720 (approx. £400) of pre-school teacher, Grethel del Carmén Campos Cabrera PUS$180 (approx. £100) for educational materials


An annual allowance of US$240 (approx. £130) (@ US$20 per month) for the youth resources manager at the Cosigüina Youth Centre

Visiting the projects will mean that the trustees will be able to assess the need for appropriate increases in these allowances. For instance, the trustees feel that the annual salary of the pre-school teacher at Germán Pomares Pre-School should be increased in line with the national increase awarded to teachers in Nicaragua. This would mean granting an extra US$480 (approx. £270) to the nuns at the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo who pay the salary on a fortnightly basis, but we need to assure ourselves that the nuns do not already have sufficient funds for this and that they agree that it should be paid. Likewise, the nuns have plans to increase the responsibility and duties of the youth resources manager at the Cosigüina Youth Centre, in which case we shall allocate more resources as required providing that the SRF's funds are sufficient to do so.

Additionally, we are aware even before we get there of many other needs in these areas in which we have already worked. We know for instance that the nuns in El Viejo are seeking further assistance for the new library based in the Rosario Mayorga School in Villa España as well as support for establishing an adequate resource centre at the Cosigüina Youth Centre. We have also received an application for funding for the supply of equipment to a youth baseball team in the town of El Viejo. All these decisions, and no doubt more, will be made on the ground (on behalf of you, the SRF supporters) by the five trustees in January - providing, of course, that the Santa Rosa Fund has sufficient funds in its coffers to allow them to make these decisions.

SRF Newsletter Nov. 2005, P.3


In our last newsletter, we gave a little information about the Primary School in the village of Cosigüina which we knew was looking for a school in the UK with which to form a twinning link. Since then we have received a detailed description of the school from one of its teachers, Teresita Ríos. We have included here a translation of just a few excerpts from Teresita's letter.

"The Cosigüina School is supported by parents (according to their means), who form a School Management Council. The School spans all grades in the standard community pre-school (20 pupils) and primary education (201 pupils). The average number of pupils per teacher is 40. The director of the school is Roberto Andres Palma Ramírez.

All the teachers spend (live) all week in the community. We arrive on Mondays and return home (mostly to the town of El Viejo) on Fridays. We cannot travel each day to and from our homes because of the distance from the school - if we tried to travel, we would not be able to get there in time for our classes, so we give up our families all week without being able to care for our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, or parents.

We make use of the afternoons by voluntarily helping the children who are having difficulties with reading and writing and maths [the normal daily hours of the primary school are from 7 am to 12 noon] - we call it 'educational reinforcement'. We are only paid for five hours a day contact time with the pupils. We do this extra because we can see that the children need to do [extra] learning for life because as our classes are multi- grade (at least two grades in each class) we find it difficult to cater for all the individual differences and difficulties that they present.

Throughout their school time the children are constantly in need and we the teachers support them in whatever ways giving various items so that they don't leave classes without exercise books, pencils, and at times even shoes and some items of clothing. What we give them is not new, even though we would like to give them more, but we earn very little. So what we try to do is get help from the NGOs [non- governmental organisations] and to seek sponsors for the children who have the greatest economic difficulties and those who have the biggest families.

The community of Cosigüina is generally occupied in agricultural activity which in recent years has not been very good on account of the poor rains, but at times excessive rains. Most farmers remain in debt to the banks through loans made for the preparation of land and the sowing. The summer period [which for the Central Americans is between November and May, coinciding with the dry season] is hard since families which were OK at the time of sowing may not have enough to eat during the summer months and may go hungry.

I hope you'll be able to help us with a twinning. It would be really good to share experiences with teachers from your country as well as for our children with new friends from Europe."

If anyone knows of a school that may be interested in forming such a link with the Cosigüina School in Nicaragua, the Santa Rosa Fund would be pleased to serve as the initial enabler of such a link. We

have more photos and information about the school than we are able to include here, so please get in touch with us for contact details.


Many Santa Rosa Fund supporters may not be aware that in the UK there are quite a number of twinning links with Nicaraguan communities - in fact 14 twin towns and local groups plus Wales NSC. All are affiliated to the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (NSC) and all function autonomously. Some of these links are official (council) twinnings; others are community links which focus on a particular organisation. Purely in the interests of spreading awareness, we list these below (the official council links are asterisked) and give a very brief description of the work of selected organisations.









projects in the area around Puerto Morazán.











María Zuñilda Pérez Brigade (linking with Achuapa) has

raised funds to build a hostel in Achuapa in northern Nicaragua. The hostel, built by Raleigh International volunteers from Britain, enables pupils from outlying communities to stay in the town during the week thereby avoiding long journeys.

Islington Managua Friendship Association

Leicester Masaya Link Group has obtained a 3-year grant

from the Department for International Development for a project focussing on the impact of international trade on producers' lives and the benefits of fair trade, using Nicaragua as a case study.

Lewisham Support Group* - links with Matagalpa.

Manchester - Bilwi Link Group






especially with the port of Corinto.



Norwich/Norfolk - El Viejo Link has completed the first

year of funding for a scholarship project that has enabled 100 children from poor families to attend school. 32 schools in Norwich/Norfolk have expressed an interest in the project and many have raised funds to help.

Oxford - Leon Association has raised funds to provide training for 25 health promoters in the use of specialist equipment for disabled children.

Reading - San Francisco Libre Association secured a

scholarship at Reading College for Jeyserd Martínez from San Francisco Libre to study carpentry. Jeyserd has since returned to Nicaragua and set up a carpentry workshop producing furniture.

Santa Rosa Fund - Barrio Santa Rosa (Managua)

Sheffield* - Estelí Friendship Society

Swindon* Ocotal Link

Wales NSC

Central America Groups:

Birmingham Action for Central America (BACA)

Leeds - Central America Solidarity Group has set up a

link with La Concha. Monies have been raised to set up a revolving loan fund for women to develop their own businesses such as catering and crafts.







Visit the new NSC website for more information about any of these links:

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (NSC)


As if the British twinning links with Nicaragua were not enough, our next report, from René Zamora, the Fund's representative in Managua, describes an international conference of Sister City organisations - the US term for what we know as twinning links. The conference was held in Managua in July this year and the Santa Rosa Fund asked René to attend as our representative. René sent back to us an envelope full of the pamphlets he had collected from each organisation (a few of which are shown on the collage on the next page) along with his own report of the event, a translation of which follows.

"The International Sister City Conference was held on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 July 2005. One of the principal objectives of the gathering was to continue the struggle for social and economic justice for Nicaragua through solidarity and twinning projects. At the same time the meeting served as a space for sharing experiences, information and the methods employed in different communities and projects. To achieve these objectives, as well as conference presentations there were also many workshops.

For this report, I consider that the most significant points of the conference were:


politics should not be mixed with the projects; and projects should not be used for personal gain


or for proselytising; communities should be empowered and local people trained in order to aim for auto - sustainability of projects, taking into account strengths and weaknesses;


sister city and twinning organisations should meet more frequently in order to strengthen their support and linking networks and for the sharing of information between projects.


The sense of solidarity in the air was palpable - a feeling that has not been evident for a long time. I got the impression of being immersed in a time capsule from the 1980s, which on the one hand was good, but on the other was full of nostalgia. It was a really interesting experience which enabled me to get to know some splendid and spirited people. I'm grateful to the Santa Rosa Fund for that opportunity and for me it was an honour to represent you."

René Alonso Zamora

El Sueño Existe

And yet another meeting of twinning and solidarity groups associated with Latin America. El Sueño Existe (The Dream Exists) was a weekend festival in Machynlleth, Wales, inspired by and dedicated to Victor Jara of Chile. The Santa Rosa Fund held a stall at the festival.

Victor was a key figure in the Chilean New Song movement which was a representation of the cultural awakening that took place through the government of Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s. Following the US-backed military coup of September 11th 1973, this music was repressed and it became dangerous to even own a record of Victor Jara.

Despite the repression and the assassination of Victor Jara by General Pinochet's forces, however, the vision survived and now, following the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, is slowly re-emerging. The Victor Jara Foundation, recently established by Joan Jara, Victor's English-born widow, works in human

rights and education and provides dance opportunities for disadvantaged people in Santiago, the capital of Chile.

The El Sueño Existe festival included a colourful mix of Latin American and Welsh music and was attended by a host of Latin Americans living in Wales. Many useful contacts were made by the Santa Rosa Fund. The event's main organiser, Tony Corden, has been a long-time supporter of the Santa Rosa Fund.


In the last SRF Newsletter we included a short piece about the following sponsored bike ride, details of which are now a little clearer. Michael Peart, the main organiser of the event and one of its participants has sent the following information.

Sponsored Bike Ride

has sent the following information. Sponsored Bike Ride Bilwi, RAAN - San Juan del Sur, Rivas
has sent the following information. Sponsored Bike Ride Bilwi, RAAN - San Juan del Sur, Rivas

Bilwi, RAAN - San Juan del Sur, Rivas

Our 800 km journey will begin in the extreme north-east of Nicaragua, Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) in February 2006. We will travel from Managua to Puerto Cabezas by bus, where we will spend two days resting and preparing for the gruelling task ahead. From here, our journey will take us through the RAAN (the North Atlantic Autonomous Region) past the ‘triangulo minero’, onto the departments of Boaco, Managua (through the capital), Masaya, Granada and finally Rivas (extreme south-west), where we will finish in the town of San Juan del Sur.

The purpose of the journey is to raise funds for several good causes. Monies raised will be divided between the Santa Rosa Fund and other charitable causes. We are also planning to donate equipment to a school in Bilwi, a particularly underdeveloped part of the country.

We have the full backing of the Santa Rosa Fund. Rene Zamora, who will be taking part in the ride, is the Santa Rosa Fund’s representative in Managua! If you would like more information on the Santa Rosa Fund you can contact Rene Zamora on + 505 277 2488 or write to Martin Mowforth (Santa Rosa Fund membership secretary) at the Santa Rosa Fund address or on .

If you are in Nicaragua and would like to sponsor us, or are even interested in taking part in the ride, please contact Michael Peart (see contact details below). If you are in the UK and would like to sponsor us, please contact Martin Mowforth.

Michael Peart, Casa M11, Residencial Sierras Doradas, Km 17 C. Masaya, Nicaragua, Central America + 505 222-2266 / 851-5121

SRF Newsletter Nov. 2005, P.7

Throwing out your old mobile ???

Then recycle it for the Santa Rosa Fund.

A company in the Midlands (run by SRF supporter Geoff Durant) is offering £3 for every mobile phone and charger that it receives from the Fund. The company then updates the phones and recycles them into the market as working mobile phones. The old phones for recycling do not necessarily have to have their SIM cards.

Anyone wanting to donate their old mobile can take it to a number of centres that have a ‘Mobile Phone Recycling Box’. Currently these include:

Tavistock Cycles in Paddons Row, Tavistock Sixth Form Centre, Tavistock College John Bentley School, Calne, Wilts. We hope that other supporters of the Fund will want to participate in this scheme and open a ‘Mobile Phone Recycling Box’ in their centre. The period after Xmas is likely to be particularly productive for recycling old mobiles as people receive presents of new mobile phones and ditch their old ones. Anyone interested in having a ‘receiver box’ for the benefit of the Santa Rosa Fund should contact June Mowforth (as below).

the Santa Rosa Fund should contact June Mowforth (as below). SRF QUIZ NIGHT Friday 25 t
the Santa Rosa Fund should contact June Mowforth (as below). SRF QUIZ NIGHT Friday 25 t


Friday 25 th November 2005 7:30 pm for a 8 pm start.

At the Parish Rooms, Plymouth Road, Tavistock £6 entry fee for each team.

Bring own drinks, although coffee and tea will be served during the break.

Last year we started late because at 8 pm we were still trying to cram more teams in. So please try to turn up before 8 pm. This is a popular and very enjoyable event in which the race for the wooden spoon is just as competitive as the race for the top spot.


This short note is just an advance warning to our supporters that in March next year we are planning to hold an event at which the five trustees who will be visiting the Santa Rosa Fund’s projects in Nicaragua during January will report back to other supporters. The event will probably be held in Tavistock, Devon. It will be planned to coincide with Central America Week in the second half of March, and we shall attempt to mix the report with some fun and music.


Santa Rosa Fund contact addresses:

For official and general enquiries: Secretary: June Mowforth, 51 West Street, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JZ; Tel. 01822 617504; email: Chair of trustees: Pete Mayston; Treasurer: Pat Mayston, Rose Cottage, Tuckermarsh, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HB; Tel. 01822 840297; email:

For information on Nicaragua Twin Town groups: Rick Blower; email: