Archive for January 2011

Update on TASK

January 20, 2011

2011 has rolled around very quickly it seems, and it is time for me to return to Nicaragua to do the work of Take A Stand for Kids (TASK) in Santa Rosa del Peñon. I’m leaving Jan 30-March 4, with two 50-pound duffle bags of donations and 6 or more bags to follow, thanks to Greg Cormier, global ed teacher and his students at West Vancouver Secondary School. I will meet them in Managua on February 28, to gather the bags and personally take them to Santa Rosa, before I return home.

I am looking forward to going very much, not because I’m longing for some sun, since we are in the midst of full-on winter weather here in Houston, B.C. I love winter and all the sports associated with it, but because TASK’s projects have moved forward significantly this year, from the reports I have had from the community.

Last year, Bertha and I discussed the need for some restructuring of the projects and it appears that those changes, although somewhat difficult for some of the people working there, have made a significant difference to the productivity of the projects.

Here is a brief summary:

  • TASK’s projects include Education: preschool, school supplies, scholarships, children’s library, community development; Health: maternity clinic, health promotion, nutrition program, garden
  • All the projects were organized with committees

Education

  • Margeene, an education student receiving a scholarship from TASK, was chosen to run the preschool. They graduated 8 small students in November with great ceremony—caps and gowns, music and speeches. The Ministry of Education has accredited the little preschool after this second year of operation. They now will provide some assistance. I’m really looking forward to finding out more about this recognition, as I had no idea it was even a possibility.
  • School supplies were distributed to 258 students in 5 different schools
  • Scholarships were distributed to students who applied for help, although I don’t have the exact number yet. As a condition for receiving a scholarship, all the students were expected to volunteer in the various programs.
  • The library was moved into the education centre
  • Getting into the rural communities to organize development projects was very difficult this year with the torrential rains

Health

  • The maternity clinic has been reorganized with new staff. It is now working in close association with the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and their staff at the medical clinic in town. MINSA is now providing some help for the Casa Materna.
  • Ana Belkys, a nursing student (one of TASK’s scholarship recipients) has been taking care of the Casa Materna and is working as the Casa’s midwife. Glenda, a registered nurse (one of TASK’s former scholarship recipients) is in charge of the rural health promotion program.
  • Juana, one of the founding members of the Casa Materna, is responsible for everything in the storage room and for the inventory of the Casa Materna
  • The nutrition program provided one meal a day for 25 preschool children and pregnant/breastfeeding women. In addition, a new program was developed for families with children over preschool age who are experiencing nutritional deficiencies. Families, in close proximity, meet once a week to cook; sharing cooking utensils, firewood, water and food resources. They are also provided with nutritional education through the Casa’s nutrition program.
  • The garden has a coordinator and he planted a lot of fruits and vegetables. However, the rainy season was severe this year and spoiled a lot of what they attempted to grow. They resurrected the wire fence but really need a chain link fence to stop intruders from stealing the produce.

Other

  • TASK received a special grant in late 2009 for Arts and Culture, from Art for People in Rossland, B.C. The funds were used for training young girls in folkloric dance and dance costumes; other children and youth in painting, making piñatas, sewing and embroidery, and making crafts from recycled materials, that will be sold to support the Arts and Crafts program.

I can’t wait to see the changes in action. I think this year will prove to be the most productive year since I started working in the community. There are always challenges and this year, I see having enough money for the scholarship program is my BIGGEST CHALLENGE.  If anyone is interested in helping out a young person in Santa Rosa del Peñon to attain a post-secondary education so as to improve their life and that of their family, please go to the CONTACT TASK page, found in the column on the right, for more information.

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Who’s Helping TASK? High Road Services Society

January 8, 2011

In the spring of 2010, Cara (DeTeves) McCormick contacted me to discuss the idea of selling the Fair Trade products that TASK uses to raise funds. In 1998, Cara, at age 10 and in my Grade 5 class, initiated the Children Helping Children Club at Twain Sullivan School, in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, by stating, “We need to do something to help!” (see more info in “About TASK” page)

Cara, now a community support worker at High Road Services Society, works with a number of individuals in Houston. In May, Cara and three of the adults she supports, began setting up a table on Wednesday mornings in the local mall to sell Café Etico coffee, Cocoa Camino chocolate products, teas and various other items. Since they began in the spring, Cara along with Carla, Richard and Chad have sold more than $1300 worth of products. Twelve years after initiating this project “to help”, Cara, along with the individuals she works with, is continuing to be involved in this project. Many THANKS to Cara, Carla, Richard and Chad for all their hard work.

Cara (second l) helps (l to r) Carla, Richard and Chad sell Fair Trade products in the Houston Mall to support TASK's projects in Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua

Who’s Helping TASK? William Lyon MacKenzie Collegiate Institute

January 7, 2011

In May 2010, I received an email from Samantha Sinanan, a member of Librarians Without Borders, an organization at the University of British Columbia (LWB@UBC), to inform me that an Ontario high school was interested in helping TASK’s small library in Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua. They had a club called World At Large Humanitarian Club sponsored by teacher, Ms. Willa Lee. One of the students had contacted an Ontario Librarians Without Borders member, who had informed the club about LWB@UBC supporting TASK’s small children’s library. The high school club was interested in raising some funds to help TASK’s children’s library. I contacted Ms. Lee and she informed me that her students were busy fund raising by selling freezies to quench the thirst of the students at the school. In less than a month, at the end of June, the students raised $250 for TASK. They wished for their donation to be directed towards books or library services and infrastructure.

So, what to do with the money? My plan at this point is to use some or all of the money to train one or more interested person(s) to look after the books and to provide programming for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon. In February 2011, I will consult with the local community to determine the best use of this donation. MANY THANKS to the students in the World At Large Humanitarian Club at William Lyon MacKenzie Collegiate Institute in North York, Ontario.

Who’s Helping TASK? Muheim Elementary School

January 3, 2011


Muheim Elementary School has been a supporter of TASK in the past, and teacher Mrs. Mary Brise, decided to introduce the students to the projects of TASK again. October 25, 2010, she invited me to visit a group of six Grade 6 students, who were interested in taking on a leadership role in the school. They listened intently to my presentation about TASK’s nutrition program for pre-school children (see Nutrition Program page) and decided it was something they would like to support. Before I left the classroom, the students were enthusiastically discussing all the ways they might be able to raise funds in their school. On December 7, 2010, I was invited to attend the Muheim morning assembly where I was presented with a cheque for $359.70 from the Grade 6 students, collected over the month of November by way of popcorn sales, a coin drive and a bake sale. TASK extends a huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Brise, the Grade 6 students and all those at Muheim Elementary School who donated to the project.

Carroll (l) gratefully accepts a donation for TASK from Mrs. Brise's Grade 6 students.