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Registered Charity No. 1028085

Issue 36, November 2010

Supporting educational initiatives and projects in Nicaragua

More volunteers work at the Santa Rosa School
In July and August this year, the Santa Rosa School received three volunteers to assist in the training of teachers and pupils in the use of computers at the school. They helped the two teachers who are now in charge of computing at the school, Mayra Calderón and Darling Martínez. In the photograph here, from left to right, they are: Karla Solis Espinoza Amy Haworth Johns and Rachael Wright. The report of their time at the school and in Nicaragua starts on the following page.

SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.1

SRF Volunteers, 2010
The Santa Rosa Fund is very grateful to Karla, Amy and Rachael who this year carried out computer training with pupils and staff at the school in Managua. Amy and Rachael had just graduated from Plymouth University – and heard of their results, both Upper Seconds, whilst in Central America. Karla, who is Nicaraguan but lives in New York and attends City University New York, found out about the Santa Rosa Fund and its search for volunteers from a chance surfing on the worldwide web. Even more serendipitous was the fact that Karla had attended the Santa Rosa School in Managua from the age of 10 to 12 prior to moving with some of her family to New York. She returns to Managua for two months each year and this year the Santa Rosa Fund was fortunate that her time there partially overlapped with that of Amy and Rachael. Being bilingual, Karla‟s role was to assist Amy and Rachael with any communication and logistical problems that they met whilst there. As well as helping them at the school, Karla was always at the end of a telephone for them. The Fund is ever so grateful to Karla for her help, and we look forward to working with her in future years if she continues to visit Managua.
Karla Solis Espinoza

Amy and Rachael have written a very full report for the Fund‟s website, and you can find it on the volunteers page of the website A much-shortened version of that report is given below.

Summer 2010 volunteer placement with the Santa Rosa Fund in the Colegio Público Santa Rosa, Managua, Nicaragua - Summary Report.
By Amy Haworth Johns and Rachael Wright We arrived in Central America in early June and spent a month in Costa Rica at the Intercultura Language School to provide us with a solid base of Spanish language. Being near the sea this was the „vacation‟ part of our summer! The school was excellent and after 4 short weeks we were familiar with the present, past and future tenses and ready to progress and start work. After leaving Costa Rica we spent a week in Nicaragua and were able to visit multiple other projects that receive funding from both the Santa Rosa Fund and ENCA (Environmental Network for Central America), especially in the NW of Nicaragua in the Cosigüina Peninsula. The Youth Centre in El Viejo is a recipient of help from both the Santa Rosa Fund and their partners, the Berriz Missionary Sisters in El Viejo. The project is currently highly successful and running workshops for youths and adolescents in sexual education and running a „girls only‟ radio station which is broadcast in the El Viejo region and neighbouring communities. Run by the female workers and students that attend the centre it provides a weekly informal introduction to sex education and support William Vargas talking with Amy and Rachael for the campaign of female sexual security. The centre is in extremely good condition and currently has 3 classrooms and a sports pitch of which they are extremely proud. Their latest requirement for funding is $30,000 to build a roof over the sports pitch to allow an extended playing season throughout the wet season months. It is run by the young William SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.2

Vargas - he brings real vitality and life to the project and is responsible, along with his colleagues, for the current success of the centre. We returned to Managua for the 19th July celebrations for the 31st anniversary of the revolution and removal of the fascist Somoza dictatorship. The event brought over 500,000 people to the banks of Lake Managua. The streets leading to the Plaza were full of the Red and Black of the Sandinista party and echoed with the revolutionary songs associated with the Triumph of 19th July 1979. Being four of the very few white people in the crowd we attracted a LOT of attention, but the day passed without dramas and we left with a number of new friendships especially with protective under-cover (but armed) policemen! The day was a great experience if not a plunge into the deep end of Managua and an excellent introduction to the vivid political history of the city. Before we were due to start work at the Colegio we were able to visit another project which receives funding from the SRF and which works for the protection of vulnerable children. The Quincho Barrilete Association is located in downtown Managua and provides classes and child and parental counselling in areas around the city with high levels of child abuse. Until a recent change in policy the project was able to provide children at high-risk of abuse (both physical and sexual) with overnight refuge, and the headquarters still has room for up to 10 children staying at one time. Following a change in policy regarding street children, however, it is now illegal for Quincho Barrilete to offer overnight refuge. So the organisation‟s focus is now aimed at addressing the root cause of abuse within the community. The staff work particularly with children, parents and leading community figures. Although this change was in the interest of reducing the number of children living on the streets of Managua, it now means that those experiencing unbearable abuse are unable to be provided with a safe refuge in centres like Quincho Barrilete and are forced to find other options for a night‟s sleep. The group are providing a marvellous service, however, and are beginning to adapt their work practices around the new laws. They currently work out of four centres (HQ, a run-down backroom in a run-down school, a centre for victims of sexual abuse and their Centre for Skills Training for children). COLEGIO PÚBLICO SANTA ROSA Rachael and I began our work with the staff of the Santa Rosa School on Wednesday 21 st July and were welcomed with a wonderful ceremony that other volunteers will have experienced. It was a wonderful experience and under teacher Modesto‟s tuition the students performed a number of folkloric dances and read out speeches of welcome. Our daily routine consisted of morning lessons with students of ages 11-16 who spent a week with us and worked through basic skills of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Through story writing we introduced the students to the manipulation Pupils saying ‘Bienvenido’ of text (colour, font, size, bullet points, etc), insertion of pictures, text boxes and information from other documents and programmes to simulate copying and pasting from the internet. We also took a few students for an hour at the local internet café to show them some basics and allow them to explore the internet.

SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.3

Morning lessons with the students lasted from 9.50-11.15 and were then followed by lessons with both the librarians (Luz Marina and Martha). After an hour break for lunch, both Rachael and I had lessons with members of staff - during our six weeks I worked with Esperanza who progressed in leaps and bounds and we advanced to creating fractions, animated PowerPoints, timetables and advanced typing. Towards the mid to end stages of our time there Rachael began lessons with Maritza the morning cleaner, who progressed really well and provided us with hilarity and delight for the end of our day. The pupils rotated each week but we had the same teachers throughout our six weeks. The pupils created their own stories through which we introduced them to a basic understanding of Word, Paint and PowerPoint. We also worked on lessons on Mecanet, a programme designed to improve typing skills. The teachers all had varying levels of skills and some of them had never previously used a computer whilst others had previous training. We designed lessons to suit each teacher and worked through skills on Word, PowerPoint, Paint, Excel, printing and use of the internet. The Headteacher, María Elizabeth Aragón Roa, has introduced a computer logging system for students using computers which had started in April of this year; forty students have used the computers during this time period. Lengths of time on computer and reasons for using are logged by students. Some students use the computers at school to print information they collected off the internet using their own memory sticks. However the school has no memory sticks that teachers and pupils can use and this might be an item for future SRF funding to provide computer access to more machine users.

Rachael with one of her pupils

During our time in the school we created a collection of study guides with visual and written (in Spanish) step-by-step guides to skills ranging from typing practice and changing font to the insertion of fractions and equations into Word and PowerPoint. These guides along with all of our students‟ work have been left with the school in the hands of Mayra and Darling. Between classes we spent time with Marcia, Claudia, Mayra and the children of the school. While our Spanish was sometimes misunderstood, it got us through classes and allowed us to form bonds with both our students and others in the school. We spent much of our time there with Marcia the sub-director and Mayra the secretary, both of whom made us really welcome and cared for us during our time at the school (with Marcia often becoming our Managuan mother and adopting the role of worrying about us during our weekend trips away). At weekends we were able to leave Managua and see a bit more of Nicaragua. We caught chicken buses to Granada, San Juan and Masaya and grew to love the hilarity of travelling in Managua, being swept from taxi to bus to taxi to destination without a second to pause. Being able to leave Managua meant that we could have breaks and visit places that were much L to R: Rachael, Karla, Marcia, María Dolores easier to explore - the dependency on taxis in Managua SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.4

began to feel a tad constricting and it was lovely to be able to WALK around the towns of Granada and Masaya and feel safe when enjoying the nightlife of San Juan del Sur. Our three months spent in Central America were greatly enjoyed, and we hope our time at the school left our students and new-found friends with the same sense of joy and achievement with which we left Managua.

Results of the volunteers’ labours
Two sheets prepared by Amy and Rachael‟s trainees included the following examples, the first (on the left below) by Marcia Ordeñana and the second by Gloria Solórzano.

7th September 2010

From Mayra Calderón (secretary at the Santa Rosa School and jointly in charge of computing at the school): “This letter is to thank you for the support of the young women, Amy and Rachael. They have carried out excellent work with the teachers and pupils of the school.” Thank you Amy, Rachael and Karla.

SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.5

Reports on other SRF funded projects
In their report, Amy and Rachael have already mentioned both the Quincho Barrilete Association and the Youth Centre in El Viejo, but a few additional snippets of news of both projects are given here, partly because both projects are seeking extra funding for specific purposes. The SRF trustees will be considering these possibilities at their 2011 funding meeting on 24 th November, 2010. Quincho Barrilete Association
This summer, the Fund was able to deliver its small annual grant of US$360 to the Quincho Barrilete Association in person. We were greeted by Manuel Espinoza who is the coordinator of the Association‟s outreach team, partly because María Consuelo Sánchez, director of the organisation, is currently receiving treatment for cancer in Florida. As well as giving our visiting group a presentation about the work of the Association and how it has changed recently under the Nicaraguan government‟s Ministry of the Family, Manuel took us to see a run-down, dark and depressing room which they use to give a little bit of care, attention, protection and education to some of the younger street children who inhabit the dangerous alleyways and streets of Managua‟s Eastern Market. More than anything, what this classroom needs is a can of paint, a bit of cement to block up the holes through which the animals enter, a more secure door and some equipment (currently, Quincho cannot store material
Manuel Espinoza of Quincho in the room they are hoping to use for the very young street kids of the Eastern Market of Managua

there because of the lack of security). The SRF trustees will be considering this request at their 2011 finance meeting on 24th November – more or less the time when you receive this newsletter.

A much fuller report of our visit to Quincho is given on the Fund‟s website:

El Viejo Youth Centre
In April this year, Sister Rosario of the Berriz Missionary Sisters based in the town of El Viejo emailed the Santa Rosa Fund to ask if we knew of any source of US$30,000. This was the sum they needed in order to build a roof over the basketball / volleyball / football / multi-purpose sports pitch plus tiered seating area (shown in the photo) that attracts so many young people to the centre. During the rainy season – especially in a particularly rainy season like this year‟s when it rains every day – the youths simply don‟t turn up which means that both the indoor and outdoor facilities at the centre are drastically under-used. The nuns and William Vargas, the centre‟s director, see the roof as crucial to its success. Obviously the amount of US$30,000 puts the project well beyond the means of the Santa Rosa Fund - and as it happens, the nuns have found the funds from elsewhere – or at least most of the total. When we last visited the centre in September, they lacked just $3,500 for the electrics under the roof. But they decided to go ahead with the construction anyway and work began on 16th September. Given that most of the SRF‟s money is already committed to our annual causes, $3,500 is still well beyond our means, but we said that we would mention it in our newsletter in case our supporters included any wealthy philanthropists who needed a good cause for their surplus money! Any takers?

SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.6

Los Pozitos
The Santa Rosa Fund has been supporting the education of the children of the tiny remote village of Los Pozitos since 2003, and last year we gave a small monthly supplement to the woefully inadequate salary of the primary school teacher who attended the village, as well as paying for the Saturday secondary education of nine pupils who otherwise would not be able to continue their education. (To get to their Saturday school in El Viejo the pupils have to travel for two hours.) The payments are made through the nuns of the Berriz Missionary Sisters whose base is in the town of El Viejo. At the end of this year, two of the nine youths will be finishing their secondary education, leaving seven of the original number still requiring assistance to get to their Saturday secondary classes. But four pupils at the primary school in Los Pozitos are also finishing their primary education, and three of these wish to continue into secondary. This makes a total of ten pupils who are now seeking assistance to attend the Saturday secondary classes. The Santa Rosa Fund is therefore trying to raise an extra US$1,530 (approximately £1,100) to enable these pupils to progress into secondary education. If we can raise it, we shall transfer the funds to the nuns in the town of El Viejo, and Sister Abdontxu will administer and disburse the money as appropriate. We are still uncertain about the status of the primary school in the village and whether the Ministry of Education will provide a teacher for the village. If so, it seems likely that it will be on the same basis as for 2010, which means that a small supplement to the salary will be required as the teacher will not be paid on a full-time basis (last year we paid a monthly supplement of US$20 to the primary teacher).
Lunch with the Berriz Sisters, September 2010 – from Left to Right: Genna West (visitor from the UK); Sister Abdontxu (Spain); 3 Mexican volunteers, Xochil, Pía and Paola; Sister Sandra (Guatemala); Sister Rosvia (Guatemala); Sister Iliana (Ecuador)

Bruce Harris – Obituary
Bruce Harris, former executive director of Casa Alianza, died of cancer on 30 th May 2010 in his home in Florida at the age of 55. Born in Scotland, he was a tireless and fearless advocate for the rights of vulnerable children. Casa Alianza provides food, shelter, vocational training, medical aid and legal aid to homeless children in Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. He dedicated his life to ending the persecution, torture and routine murder of street children in Guatemala and Honduras. As a result of his work, nearly 400 cases were brought to trial in countries where impunity generally reigns. He also helped to obtain rulings against Central American governments by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. He exposed the „sex tourism racket‟ in Costa Rica, which is still a major childsex tourist destination. In Guatemala, he exposed the wealthy lawyers and oligarchs who benefitted from the illegal adoptions scam. For this work he received numerous awards including the Olof Palme prize in 1996 and the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2000. In 1991 he was named a „Hero of Human Rights‟ by Amnesty International. He was known to the Santa Rosa Fund, first through his reception of our touring group of trustees and supporters in 1997 – we met him in San José where he and our group had a long and critical discussion about the work of Casa Alianza; and second through the suggestions he made to the Fund in 2000 for a more streamlined means of getting aid out to those who need it in Central America. His fierce dedication and courage were an inspiration to all who know of the work of Casa Alianza.

SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.7

Are you upgrading to a new laptop whilst the old one is still in working order? If the old one still has a few years of useful life in it, rather than just ditch it, you could donate it to the Santa Rosa School in Managua. We are thinking of ways of increasing the access to computers for the pupils and staff at the school, but we want items which can be carried from the UK to Nicaragua by an individual – so laptops are required rather than full system computers. Get in touch – see contacts box below.

Memory sticks / data sticks / USB sticks
Do you use memory sticks to store your data and files? If so, do you still have some of the first ones that we used when they first came into being – that is, those with only 128 Kb or 256Kb of space? And have you now moved on to use the 1, 2, 4 and 8 Gigabyte sticks? If so, this may mean that you no longer use and no longer need the sticks of smaller size, in which case could you donate them to the Santa Rosa School in Managua? Get in touch – see contacts box below.

A date for your diary


Saturday 19th February 2011

Whitchurch Village Hall (near Tavistock) Gadjo Guitares (acoustic and Spanish guitar) + Rob Shepherd (Tom Lehrer songs and guitar)

Renewal of your support for the Santa Rosa Fund and Gift Aid
This is the time of year when we ask our readers to renew their support for the Santa Rosa Fund again, and to that end we enclose with this newsletter a renewal slip. Please ignore this if you have already taken out a standing order in favour of the Fund – and perhaps use the sheet for your telephone pad. Many thanks to all our supporters who Gift Aid their donations. Each year for the last few years Gift Aid has contributed roughly an extra £1000 to our income and last year this amounted to about 10% of our total income. So if you are a UK tax payer, perhaps you would consider making your donation worth quite a lot more to the Santa Rosa Fund. Donations by standing order enable us to plan our spending more effectively and these now amount to over £3,500 per year – we are very grateful for this steady income. Thanks again to everybody for your generous donations and continued commitment to the Santa Rosa Fund.

Anyone interested in becoming a trustee?
The SRF currently has 12 trustees, which is enough for our decision-making, but new blood and ideas are always welcome especially from young people. If you would like to join this small group of people and to involve yourself in real, on-the-ground development issues, contact any of the people listed below.


Pete Mayston, Rose Cottage, Tuckermarsh, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HB Tel. 01822 840297 Email: Secretary: Position currently rotating 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, 51 West St., Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JZ Tel. 01822 617504 Email:

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER SRF Newsletter 36 November 2010, p.8