Newsletter Los Niños may 2013  

The 1st newsletter in 2013 provides a lot of information about what has been going on with Los Niños Foundation in Guatemala. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

A nice gesture at the beginning of 2013.
Filip from Belgium, an ex-volunteer, emailed us the following:
"I hope from the bottom of my heart that the crisis doesn't affect you too much so that you can continue and expand all that beautiful work you do. Even more reason for me to donate now. Also I wanted to take another opportunity to thank you. The two months of volunteer work and the trip that came as a result of that, still have a warm place in my heart and made me look at life differently (now I work for a Belgian non-profit organization myself). And I think many times back with a big smile to Los Niños in Guatemala! All the best for 2013 and a lot of success!"

After Filip's email, we got this message from his friend Jan:
"A few weeks ago, before going to a concert, Filip and I sat down to remember our time in Guatemala. We had, as Filip expressed, the time of our lives, and also it was the time that changed our lives. I would like to contribute on a yearly basis too, to what likely is the best project that I have been able to support. Thanks for the information and lots of success with all the good you are doing."

It's not so simple to become a student with a scholarship...
Sunday January 20, finally the day arrived. The sun was shining when all 150 students that had been selected for a scholarship entered the beautiful museum Santo Tomas De Aquino in Antigua, together with their parents. 35 Students are sponsored by Los Niños. A few students came to familiar territory because they had a scholarship last year too, but there were also 30 new students, selected from 150 applications. In Guatemala it is not so common that you can continue to study after elementary or high school. To study is expensive: college contributions, a uniform, transport and the books. These costs simply can not be paid by many poor people. CasaSito, partner organization of Los Niños, has therefore started a broad scholarship program in which many poor youngsters get a chance to keep on studying.  A specialized team of CasaSito analyses, observes and accompanies the students during the school year.

On this special day we recalled their rights and obligations, what it takes to be a good scholarship student and what this opportunity means for the future. The students listened carefully. Afterwards 2 ex-scholarship students played a little drama which was a big success. The day ended with a great sandwich, a brownie, a healthy apple and a delicious orange juice. Proudly the students and their parents left the building to call themselves scholarship students from today on. A chance many still dream of!


Scholarship student of the year 2012.
Every year a scholarship student of the year is elected. This time around, the honor was for Wendy Flores. Wendy, who graduated cum laude and is 18 years old now, has been a motivated student for 4 years. Besides her study she worked at the after school care facility at Semilla de Esperanza y Amor in San Mateo. Since January she works as a volunteer in the project in order to take over the initiative from her mom Lys Flores. Wendy is an example for many!


The house for the children of Miriam Dubon is ready.
After months of obtaining permits, and a lot of meetings with the municipality to get the sewage system and the water supply connected, we could finally hand over the keys of the new home to the children of Miriam Dubon the 8th of February.
Miriam passed away in March 2011 after a tragic accident. She left five children and two grandchildren behind. Her dream to ever have a piece of land with her own house couldn't become reality for her, but it could for her children.  Los Niños was able to, thanks to many donations, buy a piece of land on which a house was built.
The children have a dorm, a hot shower, a modest living room and a kitchen. They are very happy with their own home and this is all thanks to their mother, who has always worked tirelessly and nobly for her children. A mom they can be proud of and who is still alive in many hearts.


Asociation Children Projects Guatemala (SKG).
SKG, together with Los Niños, made it happen that the elementary school “Centro Educativo Melanjoco” in Alotenango could be built. Since 2009 SKG pays half of the operating costs of the school.
In the spring meeting of the boards of directors of SKG and Los Niños it was decided that in 2013 SKG pays for half of the costs again in 2013 and that every year it will be confirmed if SKG can keep on participating in sharing the costs of operation.


High school in Chimachoy.
In March, the Los Niños team visited the Telesecundaria in Chimachoy with visiting guests and volunteers. Director Laura introduced the new teacher Gerson. He replaces teacher Luis who left for another school. A program full of entertainment was provided by the 90 students, among which a comical play. Beautiful drawings were made that we could take home and all students brought a variety of vegetables that we shared. We for sure got our daily portion of veggies.



The carpentry has a new teacher and a fresh paint.
After a test period of 2 months, the 21 year old Daniel Edgar Dondiego was hired as a teacher. He is from Alotenango and was trained in carpentry in the carpentry school in Antigua. Suzan Eleveld, the manager of the carpentry, the Guatemalan teacher Saul Jimenez and Daniel together form the carpentry team. Both teacher salaries are paid by Los Niños. During holiday time the front of the carpentry was painted in a new color and an add was made on the wall to interest young people for the profession of carpenter.


Suzan was very happy with the support she got from volunteers at the beginning of 2013. Jan Hendriks helped her a lot with the improvement of the organization of the workshop. The Italian Letizia Negri made, in 3 months time, a beautiful table football play. It is a nice piece of work that can be built by a team. Consolata van den Bos helped to create new teaching materials and a design for a new piece of work, a wall lamp.


Jan Jongerius leaves as President of the Board of Directors of Los Niños Asociation.
Jan looks back at his time as President:
"After being involved for over 8 years in Los Niños, it is in my view time to pass on the job to someone else.
In 2004 I got involved with Los Niños through Carla Nolte. Soon afterwards, I was asked by the board to advise them and the team. My experience helped with that. Over the past 5 years I was given the opportunity to lead the board as its President.

Important experiences from this period are of course the various visits that I made, together with my wife Agnès, to Guatemala and the projects. Also the process around the development and building of the “Centro Educativo Melanjoco” in Alotenango, which was set up by Los Niños in cooperation with SKG, has been a tremendous experience. The same applies to the cooperation that has been established with CasaSito, and the project in San Mateo. And the many students who thanks to Los Niños have been enabled to access elementary school or after-school education. Not to forget the many students who get a scholarship, which increases their opportunities significantly.

With reason, Los Niños has always been affirming that education is the best way to fight poverty.
Of course this could not all have happened without a good relation between the Board and the team in Guatemala. At the end of the day, they do the job, together with a local professional school head and the local teachers paid by Los Niños. That has all been made possible!
Personally, I am mainly proud of the more professional set up and lay out of the organization. I am always glad to refer interested people to our annual report and annual budget, in which the board and the team account for the use of all the donations. All credits go to our loyal donors.

I am going to leave. Caroline Zur Lage will take over the leadership. She has been well introduced to the job and will ensure, together with the other committed and experienced board members, that the ship remains on track.
I wish all the best to Los Niños

Jan Jongerius.

A new board President: that requires an introduction!
Caroline Zur Lage is since April 8, 2013 the new President. She gladly introduces herself:
"First of all I want to thank Jan Jongerius. Under his committed leadership, the board and the Asociation have become more professional over the past few years. It is therefore an honor for me to take over the presidency, and I hope that my expertise and experience enable me to add value to the fAsociation. I am very familiar with the context in which Los Niños works due to my work experience and the trips that I have made. Together with my husband Maarten and our two sons of 15 and 19 we lived and worked in different countries, among others in Guatemala (Antigua).  Our sons were even attending the same school as the Dubon boys for a while!

My education in teaching and Latin America formed the basis for my career: I have worked quite a few years as advisor/consultant in the field of development cooperation and in education. Especially work at the bottom, together with the local population, is tremendously important in my view! I can look back at wonderful experiences: working with women's groups in the most basic conditions to improve their products so they could earn an income for themselves, and at the same time receive more training in organizational strengthening. Or brainstorming with boards of schools and teachers in a rural school about improving educational structures. Support vulnerable groups in society and search together for opportunities, chances. Stand with both feet on the ground in the field, and at the same time start changes at the policy and organizational level.

It is this passion and focus that I also find in the targets of the Asociation. Education makes people stronger, aware of their possibilities, and it forms the basis for development. By giving children an opportunity to receive good education, they can later on contribute to better living conditions and the construction of their own country. 

For a few years now I am living again in the Netherlands, on a beautiful spot  with a lot of space and nature surrounding us. I met Ana-Maria in Ecuador when we were staying there16 years ago, and later on I followed the start and growth of Los Niños closely. I find it a challenge to now be able to contribute to that from within. My organizational experience will for sure help!
The main challenge the Asociation faces the coming years is to seek continuity. We want to focus on strengthening our basis by cooperation with potential partners like SKG and by cooperation with other, local organizations. This strategy will have to be implemented over the coming years and as being the board we'll have a serious task in achieving that. I would like to thank Ana-Maria and the other members of the board for the trust they have put in me to help shape this process. Together we shall be taking the responsibility for a transparent and caring board

Caroline zur Lage.

Sports festival CasaSito.
On Saturday April 20 the yearly sports festival took place, supported by Los Niños and CasaSito. Eight educational projects participated. For months it had not been raining and the moment the children started the marathon towards the field, it started pouring. It didn't affect the high spirits and the shower fortunately didn't take too long. It was a fantastic day with a lot of nice sports activities that also involved water. 
Even the handicapped Angel from San Mateo participated in his red wheelchair Ferrari. All kids got a nice t-shirt as a souvenir. Lots of credits have to be given  to the staff of CasaSito and the many volunteers who made this day a big success. This day could be financed by Los Niños thanks to a wonderful donation from Rotary Leijdal in Tilburg in cooperation with Wilde Ganzen. 



And with this picture of happy bubbles blowing kids we would like to make you smile. Spring has started and we hope that you feel as cheerful as these children. We are so happy with all the support you give us, in any form. We can't say that enough!