December 2016 Newsletter
Dear Friends of Rio del Cambio
As Christmas approaches, it is once again an important time to give thanks; to be grateful for the freedom and abundance that we enjoy living in Canada. Too many in the world are fleeing for their lives, wondering when the next meal will be or if there will be any money for heat, let alone presents under the tree. Thanks to each and everyone of you in partnership with Rio del Cambio, the remote, rural village of Citalapa, Nicaragua will have a special Christmas food basket and “a greater level of human dignity, health and well-being through a variety of funded programs and projects”.
The news from Elias and Citalapa continues to have a cautious yet optimistic note. Some of the farmers decided to put in an extra planting in November with hopes of realizing a crop in January. This goes against all that is “normal” in Nicaragua but to date, it looks like a yield is still possible. I talked to my friend Franz this week and he indicated Managua and the coast received a significant rainfall which is normally unheard of from December through March. El Nino continues to have a tight grip on Central and South America but there are small signs of change.
The children are now out of school for their summer holidays. I am excited to announce that Esther and I will be returning to Nicaragua for the start of the new school year mid February. This will enable us to help Elias purchase the necessary supplies for the Rio del Cambio Learning Program. This program is the foundation of Rio del Cambio. Each day the elementary age students congregate at the new school (built in 2014 and 2015 by Rio del Cambio) from 2pm to 5 pm for a tutorial style education program. This program emphasis reading, writing and math, and works parallel to the national education curriculum. In 2016, 86 students attended. Since the inception of Rio del Cambio in 2010, we have witnessed a signifiant improvement in the academic proficiency of the students in Citalapa. They now rank as one of the best villages in the district instead of one of the worst in 2010. We are also please that there are 26 students in high school this year instead of just 2 in 2010 when the program began.
These achievements where only possible through generous donations by each of you to Rio del Cambio. Together, we now provide 3 teachers, notebooks, pens, pencils, some limited text books, chalkboards, tables and chairs for each child. The program also provides each new high school student with a knapsack filled with school supplies and assistance to pay for tuition. This enables a much greater number of students to enter and stay in high school, especially girls. To date, we have 6 high school graduates and one university graduate.
Your donation of just $100 per year makes all of this possible. (The increase from $75 is due to the change in currency exchange rates from Canadian funds to US then to Nicaraguan). If you already sponsor a child, many new photos will be out this week. If you do not receive a photo, I apologize. Esther and I simply ran out of time in October to visit all of the families homes. We will complete this task in February and forward you a picture soon after we return.
If you would like to sponsor a child, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate if you would prefer to sponsor a boy or a girl.
In February, funds permitting, we will also be replacing all of the clay inserts in the water filters that were first purchased in 2011. Due to the muddy water in the river, this is long overdue. If you would like to help with this program, each clay insert is just $10. About 12 new Water Filter Canisters are needed that have broken of the past 5 years. Each of these is $40 each.
We will be once again taking the children and their families to the beach for a day. This is to celebrate all the hard work the children have put in at school during the past year. The beach is just 20 minutes away but most of the villagers have no means to travel there. They will receive a meal consisting of vegetable stew with chicken, rice, beans and a juice box. For many of the villagers, this is the first meat protein they will have had since our last visit to the beach in 2015. If you would like to donate to this wonderful day, it is only $10 per person.
As a Christmas gift, Elias will be delivering a food basket of beans, rice, oil, salt and a few vegetables to each family in the village. This will expend the 2016 Rio del Cambio budget but we feel it is the best way to assist and honour the people of Citalapa. It has once again been a very challenging year due to extreme heat, very little rain and no improvement in the countries economic situation.
It is through your support and generous donations that Rio del Cambio has been able to empower the village of Citalapa over the past 6 years. The Learning Program, Farmers Co-operative, Water Filters, Solar Ovens, Sewing Group and new School are all directed by members of the village. All decisions including annual budgets and future programs are discussed and approved by Elias and his team of Directors.
If you would like to make a donation to Rio del Cambio, please visit this page to make a Paypal donation, OR E-transfer funds to email@example.com OR mail your cheque to 3714 20th Sideroad, Innisfil, Ontario L9S 2Y1. Please make your cheque payable to “Rio del Cambio”.
I would like to thank everyone personally for your ongoing support and trust in me to, with your help, truly make a difference in the village of Citalapa, Nicaragua.
Merry Christmas to All and wishing you a Happy New Year!
Rio del Cambio