December 2015 Update
Dear Friends of Rio del Cambio
Esther and I were grateful to have spent time in the village of Citalapa in November. As always, the children give us a wonderful greeting and were eager to show us the school, their homes and the river.
The purpose of this trip was to assess the situation in the village then determine our course of action for 2016. What we witnessed was not surprising but was heartbreaking. Project Manager, Elias keeps me up to date on daily developments via email during the year but this trip allowed us to address some issues face-to face. Several homes have experienced the loss of a family member due to ongoing health issues. This was particularly hard for one family as Jose Manual was a father, grandfather, farmer and primary provider. He was also strong leader in the community. He was only 54 years old.
We meet with the high school students, elementary teachers, sewing ladies and the farmers during the week. The meeting with the high school students focused on 2 issues – a commitment to graduating, and responsible sex. This is never an easy conversation regardless of age or country. However, after the initial awkward moments, the students were clearly attentive and receptive. Rio del Cambio has committed to funding 4 workshops for the students that will be lead by a professional counsellor who specializes in teens, sex education and teen pregnancy. She will be joined by a student from Citalapa that is now in University studying health sciences.
Our meeting with the Sewing Ladies was magical. We presented graduation diplomas to the women that have been in the program for the past 2 years and have passed a test to prove their technical abilities. The diplomas were signed by the Sewing teach and myself then a photo was taken of each graduate. For many of these women, it is the first time they have ever received a diploma. They were very excited and proud of their personal achievement. There is a second group of 8 women that are just beginning to learn to sew including 3 high school students.
The English class continues to thrive. Currently, 14 students attend Saturday morning classes and several of them meet on Wednesday afternoon to study together. Esther and I were both shocked and thrilled as one young man spoke to us in English during the meeting!
The meeting with the Farmers was the most challenging meeting I have every had in the village. It was 34 degrees, 90% humidity, no wind and the topic of conversation dire. Citalapa, like most of South/Central America has experienced a deep drought for the past 2 years. As a result, the farmers have not harvested a significant crop since the Fall of 2013. The nationwide drought has had a deep ripple effect which means there are NO part time or casual labour jobs. When I asked how do they survive, the farmers just shrug and say “do not worry, we will figure it out”. They expressed deep and emotional gratitude for the support they receive from Rio del Cambio and its Canadian donors. The food packages that they receive once a month IS making the difference between surviving and quite literally, starving.
Although this visit was short, it was very informative. Elias and I made some very difficult choices. Rio del Cambio will continue to first and foremost, fund and support the Education Program and Sponsorship Program. Together, these 2 programs have drastically changed the mind set of the entire community. The people of Citalapa now truly understand and cherish the value of education and are committed to having as many children as possible complete high school. They now know this is the best option for their children’s futures.
Secondly, Rio del Cambio will purchase 13 new water filters to replace some that were broken, and some for families that are new to the village. Currently, it is the end of what should have been the “rainy” season and the river should be 4-5 feet deep. It is however, only 10-12 inches deep as we head into 8 months of dry season with no sense of when rain will come again. As a result, the water from the river MUST be filtered or it causes life threatening illnesses. The village has one well to draw drinking water from but the Municipality as imposed a fee per bucket. Therefore, the villagers wash their clothes, bathe and draw water for daily use from the river. The river is TOO LOW to pump the water up the 100ft incline to the holding tank that then gravity feeds water directly to the homes. The taps will remain dry until the rains begin.
There are several ways that you can help Rio del Cambio help the village of Citialapa. If you have not yet paid your 2015 Sponsorship of $75, we invite you to do so immediately. If you are not currently sponsoring a child and would like to, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a picture and information about a child from within the village of Citalapa. As Christmas approaches, we encourage you to make a donation to Rio del Cambio that will help to feed the village for the next 6-8 months. We also hope to send the village to the beach in early February but this will depend on funds raised. Any amount is greatly appreciated! You may donate via etransfer to email@example.com, via www.riodelcambio.org, or by mail c/o Kari Williams at 3714 20th Sideroad, Innisfil, Ontario L9S 2Y1. We also invite you to forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might be interested in learning about Rio del Cambio and the village of Citalapa, Nicaragua.
Sponsorship Photos were send out in October but I admit I may have missed or mixed up a few. If you did not receive an email with YOUR child’s information, please email me immediately and I will gladly fix the issue.
Thank you to everyone that supports Rio del Cambio and me on this wonderful but very challenging journey. Educating, feeding, clothing and supporting approximately 600 poverty-stricken people I admit, is not easy. At times, I am overwhelmed. But through the love and support of so many, I forge ahead in the knowledge – together, we truly are making a difference!
Rio del Cambio