Archive for December 2010

Who’s Helping TASK? Twain Sullivan Elementary School

December 30, 2010

Twain Sullivan Elementary School (TSES)…where I spent 25 of my 30-year career as a teacher-librarian. TSES…where my relationship with Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua began (see History in “About TASK” page).

There are still teachers, who I worked with during my career at the school, who are interested in social justice issues and are supporting this little organization that has its roots in their school. Their latest project to help TASK began in the 2009/10 school year. In meeting with the interested teachers, we decided that the students might make a connection to children in Nicaragua who are not able to go to school due to poverty.

Before I left for my February 2010 visit to Nicaragua, the staff invited me to come to the school and do a presentation for each of the classes, to inform the students about the problems children face in Santa Rosa del Peñon. That week, the school began a coin drive in each classroom where the students collected pennies and other coins that would help provide school supplies for the neediest children in Santa Rosa. When I returned, I visited each of the classes again to update the students on the situation for the Nicaraguan children. In the municipality of Santa Rosa del Peñon, at the beginning of the school year in February 2010, 30% of the children were not enrolled in school due to extreme poverty. The TSES students were shocked by this information and ramped up their fund raising. I was invited to the year-end assembly where the students proudly presented me with a symbolic cheque for $916.29. They vowed to continue their efforts in September on their return to school.

 

Children from the Grade 4 class display the symbolic cheque that represented the fund raising efforts of TSES at the end of June 2010, for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua

At the 2010 Christmas concert, the school’s renowned music group, The Twain Band & Choir, directed by teacher Dave Conway, was selling CDs of their latest hit: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, of which half the proceeds will be donated to the TASK school supplies project. I will be taking the school’s donation, for school supplies for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon, to the community next visit in February 2011.

Who’s Helping TASK? Librarians Without Borders at the University of British Columbia

December 28, 2010

On my return from Nicaragua in early March 2010, I made arrangements to meet Samantha Sinanan, a member of Librarians Without Borders, an organization at the University of British Columbia (LWB@UBC). Samantha had initiated the relationship between TASK and LWB@UBC and was instrumental in beginning some fundraising for TASK’s children’s library project. In February 2009, I had been invited by LWB@UBC to speak to their members about the development of the children’s library in Santa Rosa del Peñon. My presentation sparked their interest in my grassroots project. The students raised funds through activities such as selling Café Etico coffee, bake sales and the sale of greeting cards. At that meeting in March, Samantha presented me with an envelope containing $357.65. They continued their fundraising efforts to the end of the year and were able to send a cheque for another $110.

Samantha (l) presenting Carroll (r) with the Librarians Without Borders@UBC donation for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua.

How to use the money wisely? That is always my mission. In the past, I have visited Kidsbooks, a fabulous children’s bookstore in Vancouver, and a number of times have emptied their one shelf of Spanish books. In addition, a teacher friend in California has sent me the Spanish edition of Scholastic book orders, from which I ordered books and she delivered them to me when she came to visit. Through these means, I have been able to provide about 300 books for the little children’s library in Santa Rosa del Peñon. However, most of books I’ve managed to procure, are translations of North American children’s books and do not represent or reflect the life and experiences of Latin American children.

In February 2010, we stopped in Granada for a couple of days. By coincidence, we happened to be there during the annual poets’ festival. Wandering about the central square, I noticed a booth with a lot of children interacting with books. Immediately, my curiosity drew me to the booth and there I discovered the jackpot!!! Libros Para Niños…a private organization, promoting reading and books for children, in Nicaragua, with their central office in Jinotepe. They provide services for non-governmental organizations that work to promote books and reading for the enjoyment of children. In addition, they support local authors and provide training for those interested in learning about library programming for children. My understanding it that they will match any purchase one makes. So the answer to my question, “How to use the money wisely?”,  may be with Libros para Niños. In February 2011, I plan to visit the organization in Jinotepe before heading to Santa Rosa. I hope to spend $300 of the LWB@UBC‘s donation on books, which should materialize into $600, if I have understood the terms of the program correctly. What a windfall for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon. I can’t wait to go shopping!! My idea for the remaining $167 is to organize a proper bookshelf for all the books and have cushions made for the children to sit on while they listen to stories. However, my final decision will be made following consultation with the community. Another of my objectives for the upcoming trip is to work with interested youth to teach them how to handle the books and read to the children. I can hardly wait to get started!!

Charity, Computers and Curses

December 19, 2010

My goal for 2010 was to apply for Canadian charity status for TASK. With a group of local interested people, we began investigating the process in the fall of 2009. During my trip to Santa Rosa del Peñon in February 2010, I spent many hours working with Doña Bertha and other members of CENMIN developing the goals, objectives and activities of each of the projects TASK supports.

Carroll (second right) meeting (l to r) with Lilliam, midwife at the Casa Materna, Maria, manager of the Nutrition Program and Bertha, TASK's contact person in Santa Rosa. The conversation is translated with the help of Tania Gutierrez (r).

In the past, I’ve always carried a pen and notebook to record all the details of my trip. Since there was so much writing to do, I purchased a small PC Netbook, which I thought would make recording of all the information much easier. Little did I know that my petite laptop would get REALLY cranky in the extreme heat (high 30s C) and misbehave VERY frequently!! I had an external mouse but decided to leave it home…just another thing to lose along the way. However, I was unaware of the extreme frustration a mouse pad can inflict on a person in a hot, humid place. Constantly sweaty fingers DON’T slide smoothly over the mouse pad!! The curser refused to move, would jump all over the screen, and almost always dug its little heels in when I tried to position it in any specific location. In addition, the screen would frequently shudder and do a little dance, the curser would disappear and curse words welled up in my head, sometimes escaping into the room! I work on a wonderful MacBook at home, and found the updated Word for Windows equally frustrating. So my bright idea to use a computer, instead of handwriting everything and bringing it all back to retype, created a lot of stress for me. I don’t get frustrated easily, but that trip, I took many deep breaths to calm myself and learned that if one gets up at 3 AM when the temperature has cooled to about 27 C, my little Netbook behaved most acceptably until about 9 AM, when the temperature starts to rise for another day.

Working at 4 AM, on the bed, a surface in the house where I stay, that is a comfortable height for typing.

Where’s TASK Been?

December 18, 2010

First day of Christmas holidays!! My goal is to get back on track with posting TASK information. Although I haven’t posted anything for a long time, I have been very busy with many activities to raise funds and promote TASK. During the next couple of weeks, I will attempt to bring you up to date with all the activities that have happened over the past months.