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Issue 27, June 2006
Registered Charity No. 1028085

(Only three come back)
Well, no actually. All five Santa Rosa Fund trustees came back, more or less in tact, but not quite as planned – please read on.

SRF trustee, Lorna Legg, with the plaster on her broken leg (after day 9 of the trustees’ visit to projects in Nicaragua) being signed by NSC worker Liz Light. (Ed: any significance in the Double L, Double L?)

This January five Santa Rosa Fund trustees, Lorna Legg, Pat and Rick Blower and June and Martin Mowforth, visited the projects and initiatives which the Santa Rosa Fund supports in Nicaragua. They took with them the SRF support for what was then the coming year, 2006. Reports of their visits to these projects and what they found are given on the following pages. On day 9, whilst the group was staying in the city of León on their way to the Cosigüina Peninsula, Lorna slipped on a highly polished floor and broke her leg. Despite receiving excellent medical attention, Lorna had to be repatriated and needed an accompanier, so she and June returned to the UK SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.1

earlier than planned, leaving Pat, Rick and Martin to cover the projects supported by the SRF in the Cosigüina Peninsula of Nicaragua. Lorna and June‟s report on our visits to the Santa Rosa School in Managua is followed by Pat and Rick‟s report on the SRF-supported projects in the Cosigüina Peninsula.

By Lorna Legg and June Mowforth During our visit we delivered the Santa Rosa Fund money for the Nicaraguan school year 2006 along with some materials. We met with Virginia Gómez Guillén (the headteacher) and René Zamora (the Fund‟s representative in Managua) to gain from our partners at the Santa Rosa School up-to-date information about the school, its pupils, staff and the general situation of education in Nicaragua. Virginia explained how she administered the funds that the SRF provides to the school – she is highly resourceful – and René presented us with his monthly accounts for the last year. Lorna had first visited the school eight years earlier and her first impression on returning was how crowded the school site had become. More classrooms have been built to accommodate the everincreasing roll that now stands at 996 students. Despite having two separate sessions each day this still means class sizes of between 50 and 70 students. One of the new buildings is of course the Ben Dalton Memorial Library [see SRF Newsletters 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24] which the SRF helped to fund and stock. 13 year old Jennifer, a pupil at the school, told us that she used the library regularly and borrowed books from it regularly, and we were informed that pupils from other schools in the area also use its resources. Trustees were especially keen to see the bookcases which a special appeal to all the SRF supporters had funded. The plaque commemorating Ben Dalton, at last fixed on the outside wall of the library, was unveiled during our visit – for what must have been the third time, we think. Although we arrived midway through the school‟s main holiday, there were plenty of students and staff there to meet and chat with us. We were also treated to an „acto‟, a performance of traditional Nicaraguan music and dance, starring, amongst others, Gabriela (a former pupil at the school) and Modesto Flores Hernández, longstanding secondary teacher at the school and former member of the Nicaraguan national dance troupe. The trustees delivered a number of materials which we had packed into extra rucksacks – which were also left at the school – along with some sports bibs which had been Modesto and Gabriela performing for the SRF trustees – donated by Stella Embliss, who works for the note the spectacular Nicaraguan dress (which depicts the history of Nicaragua) worn by Gabriela Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign in London and whose son‟s school was throwing them out. Herman Mullins, the P.E. teacher at the Santa Rosa School, a renowned basketball player, is shown in the photo on the next page modelling one of the bibs for the record – a trifle small on him! SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.2

In the evening after we had visited the school the trustees and several members of staff met up for a meal at a restaurant local to the school. In this informal setting we learnt a lot more about the state of education across Nicaragua as a whole. We heard that although some students expressed an interest in going onto university, in reality there was little chance of this as opportunities are few and costs are high. The meal was an important occasion which improved our appreciation of the staff at the school and of the differences and similarities in their lives and ours.

Computers at the school
Readers of the last three newsletters will be aware of the Santa Rosa Fund‟s application to the British Embassy in San José (the capital of Costa Rica) which has responsibility for British affairs in Nicaragua and the Anglo-Central America Society (ACAS) for funding towards the costs of a small computing system at the Santa Rosa School. The application was submitted in October last year and the five trustees who travelled to Nicaragua fixed a meeting with the British Ambassador (Mrs. Georgina Butler) in Costa Rica and therefore planned to spend the last few days of their visit in Costa Rica. As a result of the broken leg [see above], only three of the trustees were able to attend the meeting, and on the day the Ambassador also happened to be unwell and so Pat, Rick and Martin met with Second Secretary Vicki Baxter.
Herman modelling the sports bibs

After a productive meeting the embassy agreed to donate to the Santa Rosa School a computer and printer which were due for replacement in the embassy, but at the time were unable to commit themselves to providing the funds required for the remainder of the system as described in the application. Nevertheless they held out the possibility that as the end of the tax year approached other funds may become available for this project. Later, shortly before the end of the tax year, we heard from Bruce Callow in the embassy that they would donate two computers, four monitors and a printer and would also pay for the purchase of two other computers and one printer and several of the necessary accessories. Having at first thought that our application would come to nought, this was greater than we could possibly have hoped for. And it goes without saying, but certainly should be said, that we are extremely grateful to the British Embassy in San José for their generosity. Of course life could never be quite as simple as this account might suggest. At the beginning of June there remained the problem of delivering and installing all the equipment. Just before leaving Central America to return home the trustees took up the offer of Gill Holmes, who is resident in Managua, to oversee the process of purchase of the equipment from a local computer company, Microsa, their payment from the embassy and all liaison between the school, the company and the embassy. Gill has been mentioned in the SRF Newsletter before – in 1997 and 1998 when she became the temporary replacement for Chris Baird as the NSC‟s representative in Nicaragua and during which time she visited the school frequently on behalf of the SRF. So she is known at the school and was pleased to have the chance to swap stories with the staff and Virginia of what had SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.3

happened in their lives in the intervening years. It is even more fortunate for us that Gill has offered this help in return only for her expenses – she will charge no fee. The equipment purchased by the embassy from Microsa has already been delivered to the school – in March. As Gill describes it: “When I got to the school Marcia and Modesto took delivery of the equipment … It will be stored for the moment in the school office. They arranged it very attractively (still in its boxes) on a table in the library between the British and Nicaraguan flags, and then took photos of the official handover.” Microsa will install the whole system when all the equipment has been delivered, but the embassy machines are not expected to arrive until June, partly because they have to be cleaned of any possible UK government secrets. We assured the embassy personnel that their secrets would be safe with us, but the cleaning operation still had to go ahead. The system will soon be up and running. TO ALL WHO SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED US IN THIS VENTURE, MANY THANKS FROM BOTH THE SANTA ROSA SCHOOL AND FROM THE SRF TRUSTEES.

By Pat and Rick Blower

Centro de Jovenes (Youth Centre) in Cosigüina
After a difficult 2 hour journey on pot-holed and dusty roads, we arrived in Cosigüina village, northwest of El Viejo, with Leda, a Nicaraguan who works and is training with the nuns at the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo. Our first stop was a tour of the Youth Centre with the co-ordinator Carlita. The Youth Centre was built in 2005 with funding from the Amigos de Holanda and the light and airy building houses a large meeting room, kitchen, dining room, office, library area and 2 dormitories. What could not be ignored was that the building was seriously lacking in resources with the dormitories devoid of furniture and the beautiful locally made bookcases containing just a handful of books. Carlita confirmed that they are working hard to encourage the local youths to use the centre and a primary objective is to resource the centre. We were told that young people in the community do not have access to information technology or secondary education and therefore the Centre is vital for these purposes. We were impressed by Carlita‟s enthusiasm for the project and we had the Carlita with the sum total of all the books opportunity to speak to a couple of teenagers using possessed by the Youth Centre the centre. Carlita also explained that the centre is used by younger children and visiting youths from El Viejo. She hoped to see more young people using the centre in future. From here, we walked to the Cosigüina Primary School and we entered the classroom of Teresita Rios who was teaching a group of infants on a special vacation summer school for children who were having difficulty with their reading and writing. Teresita spoke to us at some length about the difficult conditions in the school with 50 children in a classroom and 2 distinct grades together. SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.4

Resources at the school were almost non-existent. Teresita described the poverty in the community which meant that many women were leaving the area to access work in neighbouring countries. There are families of 8 or 9 children and the poverty means that children have no pencils, notebooks or shoes, money for uniforms and in some cases even shirts. The children do not attend regularly and some reach adulthood with a lack of literacy. Travelling the 2 hours each way to the nearest secondary school in El Viejo is out of the question in most cases. Teresita‟s salary is less than $100 a month, considerably less than the „basic basket of goods‟, a measure which is commonly used in Central America as an indicator of poverty. She spoke passionately of education as being an inheritance from parents to prepare an individual to cope in the world, to be successful and an independent thinker. Teresita felt that a twinning arrangement with a British school would be extremely useful for her students, allowing them to build relationships and understanding.

L. to R. Teresita, Román (our driver), Rick Blower, Pat Blower

Note: Following the visit, it was proposed to the SRF trustees and agreed that we continue paying for the coordinator’s salary at the Youth Centre and increase the support to $480 yearly. We also allocated $200 for books to resource the Youth Centre library. $200 was also allocated to provide some resources for the Cosigüina Primary School.

Villa España
The following day we met with Sister Lilliam from El Viejo to make the short journey to Villa España to visit the pre-school where the Santa Rosa Fund has been paying the salary for the teacher, Grethel. [Villa España is a settlement established for the victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.] We were told of the problems they experience with poor attendance - last year 26 children registered for the term and only 10 continued after a couple of weeks. The community is very poor and the abject poverty means the parents, the majority of whom are single mothers, place little importance on attending the school as the basic priorities of subsistence are paramount. We then met Patricia, the librarian of the Primary School, Escuela Rosario Mayorga in Villa España, and she showed us the newly established library where resources were extremely scarce, despite which it is a facility that is well used. SRF supporters may like to know that last autumn the Fund suggested and then underwrote the costs of a visit by Patricia to the Ben Dalton Memorial Library at the Santa Rosa School in Managua. See page 8 for further details.

Grethel del Carmen Campos Cabrera and Claudio Davila

Finally, Claudio Davila as Director of the Rosario Mayorga Primary School explained that the effects of extreme poverty in the community meant that parents were migrating to find work and send money home. Claudio was expecting a big increase in the roll of the school for this coming school year as a result of the building of about 60 new houses in the settlement for workers in a nearby newly established banana plantation. But attendance is poor at the school and SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.5

only about 50% of the students go on to secondary education. There is no government funding for resources; therefore pencils, books and paper notebooks were not available.
Note: As a result of our visit, the SRF trustees agreed to allocate $480 extra this year for the nuns to disburse as appropriate to the pre-school teacher’s salary (to bring it into line with other teachers’ salaries in Nicaragua) and for resources for the pre-school. $200 was also allocated to resource the library in the Rosario Mayorga Primary School and $200 was donated for general educational resources there.

Finally in this report of the trustees‟ visit to Nicaragua, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with some of the beneficiaries of the Santa Rosa Fund‟s support.

The following profiles are necessarily very brief, but we hope they give our supporters at least a cursory snapshot of some of the more mature students attending the Santa Rosa School.


Yahoska de los Angeles Díaz Orochena 16 years old Likes Chemistry

Right: Jaqueline del Socorro Gutiérrez Flores 17 years old Likes Chemistry


Nancy Valeska Correa Incer 16 years old Likes Physics

Right: Eveling Raquel Vargas Palma 19 years old Likes Chemistry

Fernanda Baéz 16 years old Likes English and Culture Rignt: Angela Miranda González 15 years old Likes History and English


SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.6

Carlos is 14 years old and likes Maths and football – naturally, he‟s a striker.

Biscuits and cereals improve school attendance
At the end of February the Santa Rosa School in Managua, along with other schools in the capital, received food donations from the Government of Japan and from Banco Uno (one of the Nicaraguan banks). Banco Uno provided biscuits and the Government of Japan paid for the delivery of cereals (to be mixed with water), and the school was charged with ensuring that they were used before the expiry date of the end of March. It is most likely that the Nicaraguan government and the local office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been stung into action by growing evidence of school absenteeism and rising malnutrition in Nicaraguan children which many sources attribute to the IMF refusal to allow the government to take the necessary measures to counter this phenomenon. To distract attention from their failures and the general failure of the neoliberal economic model, they arranged for these donations from appropriate sources. In November last year, the Interest Group of Food and Nutritional Sovereignty and Security (GISSAN) described what it considers to be an “alarming nutritional situation” in Nicaragua. According to GISSAN over 30% of Nicaraguan families suffer from malnutrition putting the country among the list of Virginia with the boxes of cereals donated by nations with the highest levels of malnutrition in the the Government of Japan world. GISSAN‟s data came from a census of primary schoolchildren‟s height and from international data about levels of malnutrition across the globe. The recent census, conducted by the Ministry of Education, found that 29% of all Nicaraguan primary school pupils are shorter than normal – being below normal height is one of the key indicators of malnutrition in children. This figure rose to 32% in SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.7

the countryside. It is worth noting that, as 45% of Nicaraguan children do not attend school because of economic difficulties, children from the poorest families were not included in the census. In April, members of the Civil Coordinator (a civil society organisation) and the international development agency Oxfam announced a six month campaign against the conditions imposed by the IMF on Nicaragua. Adolfo Acedevo, a member of Civil Coordinator‟s economic committee, said that the IMF conditions imposed on the Nicaraguan government have grave effects on the population, 80% of whom live on less than US$2 per day. Only 30% of pre-school age children and 30% of secondary school age teenagers are able to attend school because their parents cannot pay for basic school materials. Despite this, government spending on education has been reduced in recent years as a result of IMF conditions. (Source: Nicaragua Network Hotline, 25.5.06)

Los Pozitos
The tiny and remote village of Los Pozitos in the Cosigüina Peninsula, about 35 km. to the north of the town of El Viejo, was the only location which had to be dropped from the itinerary of the SRF trustees during January on account of the broken leg – see earlier. We had taken with us some exercise books and various items of educational stationery for the village school and had to leave these with the nuns in the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo to be delivered to the village. We added US$60 remaining from the SRF funds we had taken with us, and before we left the country we heard that the goods had been delivered and a receipt was on its way to us. Perhaps the next Santa Rosa Fund visitor to Nicaragua will be able to call in on Los Pozitos?

An exchange between two SRF-supported projects
In 2005, the SRF donated a small amount for the purchase of resources for the new library in the Rosario Mayorga Primary School in Villa España. Patricia, the librarian, who is paid by the nuns in El Viejo for her services, was new to the job; and so the Fund sent the huge total of US$40 to the nuns with the suggestion that it could be used to send Patricia to Managua for a day to discover how Mayra Calderón, the librarian in the Ben Dalton Memorial Library at the Santa Rosa School, organises and runs the school‟s library.
Sister Lilliam (L.) and Patricia (R.) in the new Villa España library with more or less the sum total of the resources held by the library.

The trustees were very pleased to receive the news that the exchange had indeed taken place and that the experience had been enjoyable and worthwhile for both Patricia and Mayra.

Note to SRF supporters
There is of course no shortage of other educational projects and initiatives that we could support in Nicaragua, but you may be pleased to hear that the trustees only consider taking on other projects when they are sure that the funds needed to support those projects to which we are already committed are assured.

SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.8

Katie and Sarah Miles
In the last issue of the SRF Newsletter, we briefly mentioned that Katie and Sarah Miles from Birmingham had been working with our partner organisation, the Berriz Missionary Centre, in the El Viejo area of Nicaragua. They were there as a result of contacting the Santa Rosa Fund, and their primary purpose was to conduct research into disaster preparedness and response. During their time there they faced a tornado, were stranded in a national bus strike, and witnessed first-hand disaster response to severe flooding caused by Hurricane Stan. Although they spent only a month there, they witnessed poverty enough to come back determined to raise money for the Santa Rosa Fund and the work of the nuns in El Viejo. Through friends, family and talks and reports – like the one shown here which appeared in The Wilmslow Express in January – they managed to raise over £1,000, all of which they donated to the Fund. The Miles family took the decision to go without Christmas presents in 2005 and to donate all the money that they would have spent on them to Katie and Sarah‟s chosen cause, the Santa Rosa Fund, fully aware that much of the Fund‟s financial resources would go to support the projects run by the nuns of the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo. Sarah said: “Our time in Nicaragua has made us aware of how important political pressure and campaigns such as Vote for Trade Justice are to raise awareness of the international rules and regulations that keep countries such as this in poverty in order to serve the needs of the rich. The scale of the issue is so huge that we cannot resolve it single-handedly, but we can play a small part by raising awareness and raising money to continue the good work we saw in operation whilst we were out there.” It goes without saying that the Fund is immensely grateful to Katie and Sarah. To support the evidence of Katie and Sarah‟s eyes, the following figures relate to the department of Chinandega (in which is located the town of El Viejo and the Cosigüina Peninsula), and they highlight the need for further support for educational initiatives in the region. Rick and Pat‟s report on pages 3-5 of this newsletter gives some details of the support the Fund has given this year. Perhaps the Santa Rosa Fund can improve on this next year – certainly the need is great. The figures were presented in a Forum organised by Save The Children and held in Chinandega in March this year. The total population of the department of Chinandega is 441,300. Pre-school children absent from school Primary aged children absent from school Secondary aged children absent from school Children working Disabled children not attending school 28,091 19,004 27,465 1,717 2,311 SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.9

Illiterate children under the age of 14 Illiterate children over the age of 14

17,854 11,287

The presentation also listed reasons for school absence, including:             Child labour (including domestic work) Unemployment and poverty Migration Distance from school Lack of access to suitable facilities for special needs children Parental attitudes Agricultural production cycles Parental illiteracy Climate Lack of food and illness Lack of understanding from teachers Family disintegration

Another supporter of the Santa Rosa Fund, Sara Roberts, is currently researching the issue of child labour and child slavery for a BBC programme which is expected to be produced in 2007. The programme may use some examples from the area surrounding the town of El Viejo in the Cosigüina Peninsula.

A note from our treasurer
It‟s thanks to all of you that our income each year steadily rises. Last year it increased by 20 per cent. Santa Rosa‟s revenue depends largely on donations from our supporters, but also on fund raising both rose in 2005. The coffee morning, Acoustic Café and the Great West Run raised a total of £763, a significant contribution to our total income. We are always looking for new ideas for fund raising; so if you happen to have a fantastic idea, please let us know, providing it‟s not a jumble sale! Our increasing income has meant that over the years we have been able to increase our support for the Santa Rosa School and also help sustain other projects outside of Managua such as the projects in Villa España. Last year just US$900 paid for both the salary of the pre-school teacher and for much needed materials for the school in Villa España - a relatively small amount of money goes a long way in Nicaragua, a fact which never ceases to amaze me. Last year we raised £530 through Gift Aid, (thank you, Mr Brown). This money almost exactly equates to our donations to projects in the Villa España, demonstrating the important contribution that Gift Aid makes to our funds. If you are a UK tax payer, by signing our Gift Aid form, the value of your donation is increased by about 22 per cent. We are also grateful to supporters who are able to make a regular commitment of whatever size or interval (monthly, every three months, yearly) because this helps us with our forward planning. We regularly receive requests for additional or new support and when deciding how far our funds will stretch it is very useful to know that a proportion of our income for the coming year is guaranteed through regular standing orders. This year we‟ve already held two very successful events - another coffee morning and our SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.10

popular quiz night, and we are now receiving another steady income thanks to one of our supporters who recycles obsolete mobile phones. So I think I can safely anticipate another successful financial year. Pat Mayston

On Friday 10th March this year, the SRF held its now annual Quiz Night, except that this was a few months later than intended – delayed by snow last November. The event becomes more popular every year, and this year we had difficulty squeezing all the teams into the Tavistock Parish Rooms, which brought out the cheats in all of us. Takings for the Santa Rosa Fund came to £280, more than previous Quiz Nights. As in previous years, the names invented by the teams were both amusing and enigmatic – The 4 Candles; Half There; Max Headroom; Tamar Organic Turnips; Tessa Jowell’s Mortgage; Zapatistas; Daughters of Drac; and so on. Also as in previous years, the greatest interest was shown for who could gain the least points, and for this there was no shortage of competition. At the upper end of the scale, there was little competition, but Tessa Jowell’s Mortgage eventually gained the highest score, reflecting the current sorry state of British politics. From everybody who attended and scratched their heads, a tremendous vote of thanks must go to Malcolm and Judith Medhurst and Elaine Bentley for the incredible amount of work they put into devising the quiz – unquestionably the most interesting and demanding quiz of the year. In each round of the quiz, the quiz leaders included a question which was either directly or obliquely related to Nicaragua. We reproduce these questions below, and the answers are given on the next page.
QUESTIONS 1. The Patron Saint of Nicaragua – St. James (the Greater, son of Zebedee) – is also the Patron Saint of other countries. Which of these countries is St. James the Greater not the Patron Saint of? Chile, Guatemala, Spain, Uruguay 2. Which is the most populous country in Central America? Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. 3. What is the Nicaraguan connection between the answers to these three questions? a) Which Indian hero, an incarnation of Vishnu, married Sita and killed the demon king Ravana? b) What was the only one of the original four ITV franchise holders to survive into this century? c) Which Luc Besson film starred Jean Reno as a professional assassin taking care of a 12 year old girl? 4. What part of Nicaragua connects the writer Paul Theroux and the film star Harrison Ford? 5. Which country has the most Nicaraguans living outside Nicaragua? 6. Who is or was Herty Lewites? Was he a poet, sportsman, politician or singer? 7. Which endangered inhabitant of Nicaragua is called mono congo in Spanish but gets its English name from the noise it makes? 8. The guardabarranco is the national what of Nicaragua? 9. For the feast of St. Lazarus who or what do Nicaraguans put into fancy dress? Cats, Dogs, Grandparents or Politicians? 10. Which hurricane resulted in Nicaragua‟s worst ever disaster in 1998? Bret, Cesar, Joan or Mitch?

In April this year, the SRF Coffee Morning was converted into a Coffee And Cake, Soup And Stalls Morning and was extended to 2 pm. Total takings for the day came to £246. Many thanks to all who donated cakes, bric-a-brac, effort and money. SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.11

ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ QUESTIONS – see page 11 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Uruguay (Patron Saint is St. James the Lesser) Guatemala a) Rama; b) Granada; c) León CONNECTION ANSWER: Towns and cities in Nicaragua Mosquito Coast (written by Paul Theroux; film starred Harrison Ford) B Costa Rica Politician (ex-Mayor of Managua) Howler monkey Bird Dogs Mitch

The Sponsored Bike Ride across Nicaragua which was mentioned in our last two newsletters has been postponed until next year. Mike Peart, organiser and participant of the event, explained that the ride had to be held in the dry season as many of the roads (especially in the north-east of the country) were simply impassable during the rainy season which starts in May. Mike (who lives in Managua) reluctantly decided that the preparation and training for this gruelling event had not been adequate before the start date in March, which meant that they could not complete the event before the onset of the rains. Mike hopes to hold the ride in 2007 instead.

1. A copy of the Santa Rosa Fund accounts for 2005, prepared by our treasurer Pat Mayston and audited by another of the SRF trustees, Rick Blower, acting in his role of financial consultant. We thank both of them for their efforts, and now that we have almost 200 households or individuals on our mailing list, the job of managing the accounts is no mean feat. 2. A publicity flyer for an environmental study tour of Honduras, Nicaragua‟s neighbour. Highly recommended – of course.

Chair: Pete Mayston, Rose Cottage, Tuckermarsh, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HB Tel. 01822 840297 Email: Secretary: June Mowforth, 51 West Street, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JZ Tel. 01822 617504 Email: Treasurer: Pat Mayston – as for Pete (above) Twinning links representative: Rick Blower, Cloberry Cottage, Brentor, Tavistock, Devon PL19 0NG Tel. 01822 810600 Email: Membership secretary: Martin Mowforth – as for June (above)


SRF Newsletter June 2006, p.12