Sunday, February 25, 2007

FEISA working with International Development Bank to help Indigenous communities

In 2005 the indigenous Enxet community in Yatnata requested help from FEISA to improve their Preschool education. Indian teachers have no formal teacher training, the communities have no money for educational resources and children receive on average only 2 years schooling. Photo 1 shows an indigenous home, where there is no electricity, running water or sanitation.

In 2006 FEISA received a donation that enabled us to provide an 8 month training programme for 4 teachers and 10 mothers in Early Years teaching methods as well as furniture and educational games and resources for the classroom. (See photos 2 and 3 which show the Preschool classroom before and after FEISA's involvement.)

The 1st grade teacher commented that: “The community has been suffering from poor teaching in Preschool for years. Without a firm educational foundation it is very difficult for the children to advance in their learning. This project is wonderful and just what the community needed for its children to progress in their education.”

We were thrilled to see the results of the project. Hygiene improved as children learnt to wash their hands and parents told us that the children now love going to school and are learning more. The mums involved in the training have also benefited as they have grown in confidence and have started speaking up at community meetings to fight for their children's educational needs.

FEISA has been asked to continue our work with the community and also provide a literacy and numeracy programme for the women, who have realised that to help their children they need more education. Most can't read or write. As the saying goes, "Educate a woman and you educate a community." We have also been asked to take the programme to 5 other schools in another indigenous community.

We were encouraged in February to receive the news that the Ministry of Education and International Development Bank accepted our request for funding to set up the first ever indigenous play scheme in the community of Yatnata. So we have 4 indigenous projects planned for 2007!

We need great wisdom to manage the projects in culturally sensitive ways. Sam is coordinating the work and feels rather daunted! Your prayers are very much appreciated.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

February News 2007

Mysterious Silence
Apologies for our long silence. We were home for Christmas and illness in the family caused us to focus our time and attention here. We're both back in Paraguay now in time for the start of the academic year though Sam's journey was somewhat of a nightmare. Though it has always been Rup´s dream to get his flight cancelled and be put up in a hotel, it certainly was not Sam's! I can honestly say it's not all it's cracked up to be, though at least I was given a suite. But the worst was arriving in Buenos Aires to discover the flight attendents had removed my laptop from the cabin hold during a stopover in Sao Paulo as they thought it might be a bomb! Being fast asleep, I was totally oblivious to the announcements asking who the bag belonged to! No-one thought to wake me up! One week later, I remain laptopless. Please pray for its speedy return.

FEISA news
Please pray for all the staff as we begin the academic year and especially for Rup with the financial end of year procedures. So far we only have 10 1st year student applications for the diploma course and need a minimum of 20 to run the course. Photo 1 shows us with our FEISA colleagues.

Degree Course breaking news
Great news! Our degree course has been given the go ahead to start in April. Please pray for Estela and Gloria, the Head and academic coordinator seen in the front right of the photo, to make wise decisions in their hiring of teachers and organisation of the timetable. Pray also for the minimum number of 20 students needed to run the course.

Dengue Epidemic
There has been a lot of rain in Paraguay since the beginning of the year, which is wonderful for the crops and wells in the countryside. Unfortunately it has also caused an outbreak of dengue fever, which is a viral infection transmitted by stripy mosquitoes (photo 2) with symptoms of high fever, nausea, backache and severe headaches. It can prove fatal if the patient is old or has had it before. There have been over 12,000 cases of the disease since January including 4 deaths. Unfortunately there is no vaccine for dengue fever.

Please pray for the clean-up operation being carried out by the authorities which includes emptying all standing water and spraying insecticide to keep the mosquito population down. Having recently returned to Paraguay, Rup and I are prime targets for blood thirsty mossies so please pray for our protection as well as the staff and students of FEISA.