Stichting Los Niņos

Newsletter October 2008

Dear all,
It is time for some updates from Guatemala!
We asked one of our volunteers, 24 year old Sandra Harink, to share her experiences with you.
Hope you enjoy reading her story.

An amazingly warm, beautiful, unique and just unprecedented experience!

Antigua, July 2008. It is my last week in Guatemala and here I am, sitting behind a computer in an internet café trying to figure out:  Where do I begin to tell my story?
On March 23rd I got on an airplane to Guatemala, travelling by myself for the first time, far away, a long trip that was going to bring me to a country with a completely different culture, language and environment. I arrived in Antigua early in the morning and from day one I have been swept away by all the activities, events and experiences. All the insecurities or doubts that I might have had, disappeared when I received a warm welcome by Ana-Maria, Heidi and Virginie of the Foundation. They simply understand what it is like to arrive as a complete stranger with a huge amount of luggage and an even bigger jet-lag.

Antigua is a lovely, quiet but also extremely beautiful, colonial city. I really did not mind to go to the Spanish classes here, during the first four weeks. At a cozy and high quality Spanish school, where I attended the classes for four weeks, I was trained very well and thus ready to start my work in Alotenango. I did not have any time what so ever, to feel alone or bored. A drink, a movie night or some weekend trips with the other volunteers and my roommates at the hospitable Guatemalan family, as well as all the activities related to the school kept me busy. From the first week onwards I was helping out and enjoying, a lot of fun and nice activities.

 


For example the time the whole school visited the Guatemala City zoo. About 300 children discovered this beautiful zoo in a very playful but educational way. When you then add a great lunch and a giant ice-cream cone you end up with the perfect day. Everyone was just completely blown away by it. Furthermore, it has been a great pleasure to help out the Guatemalan teacher and to stand in front of the classroom to teach the 6 and 7 year olds. The children gave me back so much; I just cannot find the words to describe that. Every day so many hugs, looks of appreciation a wonderful interaction and feeling of trust that evolves from this.

Another activity that I really want to share with you: Mothers day. This day is a huge happening. The children perform their sketches, songs and other performances on stage. What a wonderful experience!  The children were very nervous but also very brave on that stage. Of course the volunteers could not stay behind and we ended up making fools of ourselves in an extremely funny sketch. The whole day was just marvellous; the mothers kept on laughing, so much fun, so much warmth, a family feeling, simply amazing.   

During the period that I worked as a volunteer I even got to express my personal creativity, together with the other volunteers. We actually got the opportunity to set up a whole morning program at the school. So instead of the normal lessons we had to come up with something different, something educational and fun. After quite some meetings we finally decided to create a “world” day with games, food, music, creative activities and of course information about the different continents. It was very special to have contributed to such an extraordinary day. The effect that such a day has on the children… I will never forget their happy and curious faces nor will I forget their overall enthusiasm. With an aching heart I had to say goodbye to these children. In less than 2 months they found a way into my heart.

I would like to thank Los Niños for the endless opportunities, the work I was allowed to do at the school, listening to my opinion, to that of others and taking it seriously. Besides that I am very grateful that the Foundation helped me to establish some contacts at the medical post in Alotenango. I got the opportunity to work there for another fantastic three weeks and learned and experienced a lot.

These three months have given me more than I ever could imagine. I now have a more open and free look at life. If you are willing and you are not afraid to put yourself out there, the sky is the limit. Muchas gracias.

Suitcases, suitcases and many more .

This is a request for the ones that took a Los Ninos suitcase back to the Netherlands but have not returned it yet to Nicolette Menken. She still has a lot of things that we need to send to Guatemala however she does not have any suitcases left. If there is anyone who has a suitcase lying around and is not using it anymore please let Nicoletta know (tel. nr: 06 53948176). We are very happy which each and every exemplaat.

 

 First evaluation of students via the CasaSito scholarship.

Since January 2008 Los Ninos supports 9 out of a total of 23 scholarships students via the scholarship program of CasaSito (Alice Lee). The first evaluation took place on the 26th July where the students and their parents were interviewed. The evaluation was based on the students’ results (min. 75 %), attitude at school, behavior at home and the financial situation. After this evaluation, 18 students kept on receiving a 100% scholarship, 2 students continued with a 50% scholarship and 3 students did not meet the standards and were therefore taken off the program.

Accident at the bakery in Chocantariy.

Augustina, one of the women who works at the bakery, was caught by surprise by a big flame coming from the oven. Her eyebrows face and arms got burned. She could not work for two months and therefore she also did not have any income. Los Ninos helped her financially. Thanks to a gift we were also able to provide her with liquid vitamin E that she needs to rub on her wounds in her face every day. This treatment helped so well that only little scars are still visible. In the meantime she went back to work..

 

Heidi Kusters, our volunteer coordinator is leaving.

Since the beginning of this year Heidi has been the coordinator of the volunteers for Los Niños. End of July we said goodbye to her. In the meantime she is 6 and a half months pregnant and she will start preparing for motherhood and for the surf camp that she and her partner Rafael have set up. Read more about the surf camp on http://www.surf-guatemala.com/.
Thank you Heidi for your support and we wish you all the luck with the latest world wonder and a lot of success with the surf camp..

Virginie got married.

At 16th August the day finally arrived. After a year of preparing for it, Virginie and Evert got married in Belgium. Virginie will be known from this moment onwards as Mrs. Wulfrank. When you are enjoying this newsletter they are on their well deserved honeymoon in India and personally I am really looking forward to their return to Guatemala.

 

Looking for a project coordinator in Guatemala..

The foundation is looking for a local fulltime project coordinator, who will, as the right hand of Ana-Maria Ackermans, give follow up to the local projects from mid 2009 onwards. This person (m/f) has to commit to stay in Guatemala for at least 2 year.
The detailed profile is available at Los Niños in Dutch. (losninos@conexion.com.gt). 


Cooperation Foundation Children Projects Guatemala with Los Niños: 1 + 1 = 3

At 1st August Foundation Los Niños started a formal cooperation with the Foundation for Children Projects in Guatemala (SKG).

This foundation is founded by a couple of Dutch parents who adopted one or more children from Guatemala. These parents would like to offer help to the many underprivileged children from Guatemala. They do not want to do this by initiating activities or starting projects but through financing already existing projects and thus enabling a structural cooperation.

For Foundation Los Niños this cooperation was welcomed with open arms as the construction of the school with 10 classrooms has already started and is still quite a task both from financial and organizational perspective. The exploitative on the long term, looking at the growth of the number of students and teachers, will demand a lot from all of us. Besides that, Foundation SKG together with Foundation Los Niños have applied for a compensation of 25.000 euro at the NCDO to support the build of the school. We are happy to report that the first response to this request has been very positive.

Thus we are very happy with this cooperation and we are sure that these impulses will stimulate the development in Alotenango very strongly which will be in the highest interest of all the poorest children in Alotenango..

Construction of the new school.

Everything is going according to plan. So far we did not encounter any setbacks. More news on the progress in the next newsletter.

Former office and house of Ana-Maria turns into a Bed & Breakfast.

Many of you who read this have sat at the table outside on the patio of “Los Tulipanos” at the 9th Calle Oriente 4B in Antigua, with a cup of coffee or another drink. Per the 1st September Ana-Maria moved to her new house. The office has been relocated to Zamora, the Spanish school which is also located at the 9th Calle. Los Tulipanes has been transformed into an exclusive Bed & Breakfast. The accommodation holds two rooms with in total 5 beds and otherwise everything what a traveler, with high standards, would wish for. If you wish to make a reservation, you can do so by writing an email to Ana-Maria (aackermans@telfort.nl). Hostess Marjolijn will besides breakfast also be serving you with helpful advice. 


Gratutide.

Of course we again want to express our gratitude to every single person who enables Foundation Los Niños to do its work. Last but not least a big thank you goes out to the volunteers who every time are applying themselves completely selfless for the educational project in Alotenango. We hope that many more volunteers will find their way to Los Niños Guatemala.


Team Guatemala:
Virginie en Ana-Maria