Update on TASK

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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