You are on page 1of 8

SANTA ROSA FUND

NEWSLETTER
Registered Charity No. 1028085 Issue 34, November 2009
Supporting educational initiatives and projects in Nicaragua
www.santarosafund.org

More volunteers work at the


Santa Rosa School

Above – SRF volunteers Sue and Ken Martin with


Claudia Ramírez Sequiera, Deputy Director of the
Santa Rosa School.

Left – Sue training two members of staff, Perla María


Serrano (left) and Gloria Solórzano López (right).

In July and August this year, two long-term supporters of the Santa Rosa Fund, Sue and Ken
Martin from Somerset, volunteered their time and skill to train members of staff at the Santa Rosa
School in Managua in the use of the school’s computers. On page 2 of this issue of the newsletter
we include their report of their time at the school and in the Nicaraguan capital city.
SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.1
Volunteer report
Sue and Ken Martin presented a lengthy and detailed report to the SRF trustees which has
enabled many improvements in the computing system at the school to take place. We have
included here only a few short extracts from their report, but the whole report is included on the
Computers page of our website – www.santarosafund.org

Report on computer set-up at Santa Rosa School, September 2009


Sue and Ken Martin

We appreciated the opportunity to work with the school and to support six
teachers. We also appreciated the help given to us by the Santa Rosa Fund
in finding accommodation in Managua and in giving us contacts and advice
about travelling around Nicaragua. As a consequence, we were able to use
our weekends and occasional holidays to visit a variety of interesting places
by local buses – including Granada, León, a coffee plantation near
Matagalpa, the volcanic Lago Apoyo and the Island of Ometepe. We also
spent a week in Costa Rica and enjoyed seeing another country.

This report contains our observations and suggestions about the computing
facilities at the Santa Rosa School. Simple, immediate things can be done to
make the current situation just that little bit better and these could come
within the current budgets. Developing the equipment to include internet Sue Martin in the computer
suite at the school
would incur further costs and must be balanced with other needs and
requirements of the school.

Problems
There are various problems currently associated with the use of the computers at the school – these are to
be expected. They include:
the local area network not working correctly;
files have to be saved onto memory stick rather than hard disk;
one of the computers is old and only has Windows 98 in English;
some of the staff are attending training though we think this is often very theoretical.

Suggestions
the transfer of responsibility for the computers to a
designated person or persons in the school. [Our regular
readers will know that the Santa Rosa Fund currently
hires the services of Gill Holmes (who lives in Managua)
as a computer trouble-shooter for the school; it has
always been our aim, agreed with Gill, that this
responsibility should eventually transfer to the school.
Spending two months at the school, Sue and Ken were
able to identify those staff most likely to be able to
perform this task, and so, along with the headteacher
María Elizabeth Aragón, the Fund is currently
Member of staff Melba Ludin Hernández at investigating the possibility of paying the monthly fee of
the computers
$25 that we now pay to Gill to one of the staff];
SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.2
one of the computers could be located in the Ben Dalton Library to give (controlled) access to the
pupils at the school – a booking sheet system could be applied;
network connections could be
improved so that the printer
can operate from all
computers;
internet access can be
investigated seriously when
the network is operating
properly and when the
telephone connection is re-
installed;

Sue and Ken also donated to the


school a digital camera, a
microphone to record voices on the
computer and use within PowerPoint,
particularly for presentations to
visitors and the Santa Rosa Fund
also provided each of the six
teachers with 1GB memory sticks
which were presented with their Staff of the school enjoying a celebratory meal with Sue and Ken in
certificates [for completing Sue and the Ben Dalton Library
Ken’s course of training].
Additionally, the educational software company ‘2Simple’ donated two programs to the school. Somerset
Total Communications donated CDs with useful signing symbols. We also collected and left a set of free
software applications and resources, including image collections, simulated electrical circuits, maths
applications and others. Currently, computer use is focused on the needs of teachers in their jobs using
Office applications and for the general development of confidence in using images and sound, creating
documents and developing presentations.
Sue and Ken Martin

The Santa Rosa Fund is extremely grateful to Sue and Ken for the generosity that they showed to the
school and staff, not just with their time but also with the very useful items of equipment that they donated.
The Fund will again be looking for volunteer computer trainers for the summer months of 2010. More
details can be found on our website.

Other projects supported by the


Santa Rosa Fund
Sue and Ken Martin were joined by two SRF trustees and two other British visitors during the first
two weeks of their volunteering. As their first week was a school holiday in Nicaragua – even
though the Santa Rosa School opened its doors so that Sue and Ken could familiarise themselves
with the school and the equipment – they all took the opportunity to visit some of the other
educational projects supported by the Santa Rosa Fund. The following is a mixture of extracts
from the notes made about these visits and projects by SRF trustee June Mowforth and other
visitor Alice Klein. Please be aware that we have retained the shorthand form of their notes
here.
SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.3
The Santa Rosa School
It was mid-semester break so the school was not in session. But of course we were entertained royally and
it gave Sue and Ken an opportunity to see the computers and meet the Head and others. The Ben Dalton
Library looks very good - much better organised and user friendly. René Zamora is happy to continue as
our representative. I think it might be useful to review the monthly purchases and possibly invite bids for
one-off funding for equipment, e.g. sports gear. Need to discuss with the Head.

Projects in the Cosigüina Peninsula


The Nuns in El Viejo are wonderful of course. The more money we can place in their safe hands the better.
Yesterday we met with William Díaz Vargas, the youth leader at the El Viejo Recreational Centre, and he
went with us to Cosigüina village to the youth centre there. Whilst a little shy - and who wouldn't be faced
with all these funny people from the UK – William is an impressive person and has an enormous task as his
job, but the Nuns keep him going.

Los Pozitos
The leader from the community, Eloi Treminio, joined our
meeting with Sister Abdontxu. As the track from Los Pozitos
was unpassable by vehicle, Eloi had made the journey by
three hours on
horseback followed by a
bus ride to El Viejo. He
also found time to put a
clean shirt on! He is so
dignified and we should
never be in doubt how
much our support means
to this very isolated
community. He gave us
a thank you letter, shown
here – Martin translated
Sister Abdontxu and Eloi Treminio
that, and I was nearly in
tears. Sorry. At this point
Sister Abdontxu gave Eloi the next tranche of money for the
fees to place the eight secondary school aged pupils in the
Saturday school. These kids also do the horse ride to the
main road every Saturday.

You will all be pleased to know, and Jackie in particular, that


the one classroom school in Los Pozitos has been re-opened
by the government as there are now 16 pre-school and
primary school aged children in the community. The teacher
stays in Los Pozitos during the week and even does some
adult literacy in the evenings. They do not need support from the SRF, and all equipment, including the
musical instruments donated by Jackie’s school in Plymouth, are still there.

I believe that we will still need to continue funding the secondary school age children who attend the
Saturday school.

Quincho Barrilete Association (AQB) (street children’s and abused children’s


project)
We interviewed María Consuelo Sánchez, director of the organisation (pictured top left on next page being
interviewed). The organisation is flourishing but there’s still a great need. The workshop for carpentry and
metalwork is closed through lack of equipment and staff. But they still offer computer classes, handicraft
classes, cookery, sports and transport from the children's home.
SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.4
Visitors from Britain, Alice Klein and Karis McLaughlin, eating cake
María Consuela Sánchez made in the kitchen of the AQB Rehabiltation Centre with some of the
girls from the centre

Each child has a file which contains their birth certificates, if they have one (most don't). AQB has 6 workers
and 6 psychologists to 172 children in the rehab centre. There is one based in the centre full-time but the
rest travel around visiting the families of the children.

AQB's major donors include the ILO [International Labour Organisation] and they must produce audits for
each of their donors which is extremely time consuming. After the child’s entry into the programme, AQB
then tries to stabilise their lives and to rehabilitate them, following which they try to reinsert them into family
and/or society. 50% of the children drop out. After the programme there is a co-operative of
apprenticeships but generally low employment. It's difficult to set up new businesses or opportunities with
so few resources. Children must try to maintain the stability they have reached and develop a self-
realisation in order not to return to crime etc.

If space allows we will try to include some extracts from our interview with María Consuelo Sánchez in the next edition
of the SRF newsletter.

Villa España Library


Our group of SRF representatives had so little time in El Viejo and the Cosigüina Peninsula that they were
unable to pay a visit to the settlement of Villa España (set up for the victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998).
We were asked by the nuns, however, if it would be possible for the Santa Rosa Fund to cover the salary of
Patricia Jarquín, the librarian in the Villa España library which is based in the Rosario Mayorga Primary
School and which is of important use for the whole community. The monthly rate is $70 (USD) – an annual
salary of $840. We had insufficient funds to do this in 2009, but the trustees will consider the possibility for
2010 at their funding meeting in November.

La Chureca – Children’s project on Managua’s dump


Thus far, the Santa Rosa Fund has donated a total of £600 to Wales NSC (Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign)
specifically for its support of the Los Quinchos project on La Chureca, the major municipal dump for
Managua. More details of this project to help the children who live on the dump have been given in Issues
31 and 33 of the SRF Newsletter, but a more recent report of a visit to the dump and the project made by
Gill Holmes gives an important update. The report, however, is six pages long and includes a lot of
photographs. So we have put it onto our website, on the La Chureca project page, along with three
previous reports of visits. We recommend that you visit the site to read this report – www.santarosafund.org

It should also be reported that the property known as La Chureca, the whole 250 acres of the dump, was
confiscated in August by the Prosecutor General of the Republic in order to turn it over to the City of
Managua municipality so that it could be readied for a US$43 million development project financed by the
Spanish government.

SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.5


The project will involve closing the dump,
the installation of plants to process
garbage and a settlement for the workers
there. Despite the confiscation, for the time
being, and into the foreseeable future,
work (i.e., scavenging) on the dump
continues as it did before, and the
importance of the Los Quinchos project for
the kids who work there has not abated.
Indeed, Gill’s visit to the project was made
in September, after the confiscation, and
Wales NSC has committed itself to
supporting the project throughout 2010.

Eddy Medina, the educator, on the left and Isidro


on the right. In the background, are Luz Amanda,
the nurse, and Bismarck, the coordinator

FUND RAISING NEWS AND EVENTS


A big thank you to all at Broome Farm

The SRF has recently received the sum of £1,850 from Broome Farm in Herefordshire, where the
Johnson family has been producing cider and perry for the last 70 years. This sum has been
raised from donations made during Friday night get-togethers in the cellar, as well as at special
musical events throughout the year culminating in the annual cider festival in early September.
They feel privileged to be able to live and work in such a pleasant environment and wish to give
back a little to those in less fortunate
circumstances. Each year one or two charities are
chosen, alternating between local and international
concerns. Last year's collection was shared
between the Santa Rosa Fund and WAWA,
which serves similar causes in the Peruvian Andes.
This year they are raising money for Headlong, the
charity that supports head injury patients.

The photo on the right was taken in June when


Pete Mayston (SRF chair) and Mary from
WAWA gave short presentations to a gathering of
friends and helpers at Broome Farm, together with L to R: Pat Mayston (SRF treasurer), Pete
Mayston (SRF chair), Mike Johnson (Broome
Mike Johnson the current cider maker and family. Farm), Mary and Chris (WAWA)
Pete reflected afterwards on the similarity in the
approach of both charities: "we are both small local organisations, raising funds locally, relying on
personal contacts in Nicaragua and Peru to determine which education-related projects to support.
This ensures that money goes directly to where it can be used most effectively".

Pete strongly recommends anyone with a liking for traditional farmhouse cider or perry to make a
‘big detour’ to visit Broome Farm. "It's easy to find, near the village of Peterstow on the A49 Ross-
on-Wye to Hereford road". As well as the aforementioned beverages there are cakes, summer
cream teas, orchard visits, meals (booking needed!) etc. Check the website www.rosscider.com

SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.6


Nachos, news and entertainment

Hopefully, you will all receive this newsletter a little before our next public event to be held on
Saturday 21st November from 7:30 to 11 pm in the Parish Rooms, Plymouth Road, Tavistock. We
apologise if this newsletter gets to you a little too late for the event, but all supporters local to the
West Devon area should already have received a flier about the event through their door.

The event is principally to give our supporters an update on the projects that we support in
Nicaragua from the trustees and others who visited the country earlier this year. There will also be
entertainment from performance poet Rob Barrett (who will host the event) and from folk singer
Mick Huber.

Light refreshments (nachos, nibbles and dips) along with tea and coffee will be available, and
people are invited to bring their own bottles. There is no entry charge, but we would ask for
donations to cover the costs of the hire of the room.

Nicaragua illiteracy-free
On August 22nd this year, Nicaragua was declared a "territory free of illiteracy" after reducing the
level of illiteracy from 20.7% nationally to 3.56%. Minister of Education Miguel de Castilla
presented President Daniel Ortega with a certificate of national achievement resulting from
implementation of the Cuban adult literacy plan ‘Yes I Can’. The United Nations Education,
Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) has certified that Nicaragua is ‘illiteracy free’.

The reduction of illiteracy to 3 per 100 residents "has made history," by achieving that level for the
first time since independence from Spain in 1821, Ortega said in a celebration carried live on radio
and television from the Plaza of the Revolution before hundreds of youth, students, and literacy
teachers. Ortega said the government would not be satisfied until there is not "a single illiterate
person" in the country. He pledged to teach literacy to the Miskito and the other original peoples,
and said for them "we will continue with education plans until we eradicate illiteracy totally."

Ortega announced that the next objective of the National Literacy Campaign is to raise the
population to the 6th grade level by 2015. He said the plan is to incorporate the newly literate into
the education system and to raise the quality of primary, secondary and university education for
future national development.

The celebration was held on the 29th anniversary of the conclusion of the first literacy campaign
during the revolutionary Sandinista government when illiteracy was reduced from 53% to 12%.
Under the governments of Violeta Chamorro, Arnoldo Aleman and Enrique Bolaños, illiteracy rose
again to 30% and the recent Literacy Campaign was implemented as a response to the problem
inherited from these neoliberal governments which had charged fees for public education thereby
obliging many parents of poor families to remove their children from school. Since 2007,
Nicaraguan schools have catered for over 100,000 extra pupils who would otherwise not have
attended. The school desertion rate of 13% in 2006 was reduced to 6% in 2008.
Sources:
Nicaragua News Hotline, 30.07.09 and 25.08.09
Tania Sirias ‘MINED declares capital free of illiteracy’, El Nuevo Diario, Managua, 08.07.09
Compañer@s, Newsletter of the Wales NSC, July 2009

SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.7


Gill Gorbutt
Santa Rosa Fund trustee Gill Gorbutt died on Monday 2 nd
November after fighting against cancer for well over a
decade. Gill was much more than a trustee of the Santa
Rosa Fund. She was an indefatigable worker for Help The
Aged, a local councillor, an extremely popular mayor of
Tavistock (1997-1998), a trustee of the environmental
charity Westden and ultimately the chair of its trustees,
chair of Tamwed (an organisation set up to support people
affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami), chair of Working
Together for Devon organisation, chair of Tavistock
Farmers’ Market, and a founder member and trustee of
Tavistock Area Support Services (TASS). In April 2007 she
was made an honoured burgess of Tavistock, an honour
bestowed on very few people.

Gill was always positive in her approach to people and to life and she was a superb listener. In
meetings she would listen to the debates raging around her and then summarise the positions with
great clarity and succinctness and define precisely what actions were needed. Her sharp and
intelligent analysis always helped to clarify matters for others. And she managed to do this with
such grace and without ever having a bad word for anyone.

For several years Gill cared for her husband David who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and she
always provided great support and encouragement to her daughter and son Emma and Tom who
were by her side when she died. She was always rightly immensely proud of them both.

The Santa Rosa Fund, Tavistock, Devon, and all the other organisations which she supported and
for which she worked tirelessly have lost a wonderful and irreplaceable friend who made a great
difference.

Renewal of support

With this newsletter we have enclosed a subscription renewal slip so that you can show your continued
support for the work done by the Santa Rosa Fund. If you have already made a standing order to the
benefit of the Santa Rosa Fund, please ignore this slip and use the other side of it for your telephone pad.

SANTA ROSA FUND CONTACTS www.santarosafund.org

Chair: Pete Mayston, Rose Cottage, Tuckermarsh, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HB
Tel. 01822 840297 Email: mayston@waitrose.com
Secretary: Lorna & Martin Legg, Rock Cottage, Morwell Cross, Gulworthy, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JH, Tel.
01822 833934 Email: tavyleggs@hotmail.com
Treasurer: Pat Mayston – as for Pete (above)
Twinning links representative: Rick Blower, Cloberry Cottage, Brentor, Tavistock, Devon PL19 0NG
Tel. 01822 810600 Email: r.blower@btinternet.com
Membership secretary: Martin Mowforth, 51 West St., Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JZ
Tel. 01822 617504 Email: mmowforth@plymouth.ac.uk

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER

SRF Newsletter 34 November 2009, p.8