Sunday, April 15, 2007

FEISA provides Literacy Programme for Indigenous Women

We were greatly encouraged by the 50 people from the indigenous community of Yatnata who turned out in March to sign the agreement to work with FEISA this year. (Photo 1)

What excited them most was the prospect of having an adult literacy programme for the first time ever in the community. 2 teachers in the community have volunteered to run the literacy programme three times a week after school. FEISA is providing the programme (in their Indian language, Enxet), the resources, training for the teachers and supervision.

At 4:00pm, when school finishes, 23 women and 7 men are waiting outside the classroom eager to begin their lesson. (Photos 2, 3 and 4) They need to make the most of the daylight as the community has no electricity.

The teachers have shown tremendous commitment and the community are simply thrilled with the programme. It is hard for us in the UK to comprehend what it means for an adult to be illiterate and have the opportunity to be able to read and write. A Paraguayan lady that Sam was teaching to read said through her tears, "It's like I was blind and now I can see."

FEISA will evaluate the programme in November and, if it has been successful, hope to take it to other indigenous communities, where we have already had requests from women desperate to learn to read and write. Please pray for the teachers, whose role is vital, and for wisdom for FEISA to adapt the programme to the needs of the community if necessary.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rup and Sam on National TV...almost.

It's something similar to Pop Idol, only the contestants sing in order to have a dream fulfilled. This is the latest popular TV programme to hit Paraguay and it's called Singing for a Dream (Cantando por un SueƱo).

10 members of the public are selected according to their singing ability and their dream. They are then paired up with a Paraguayan celebrity with whom they sing in an attempt to win the competition. The public vote each week to determine which couple will be eliminated. The prize is the fulfillment of your dream.

Out of the 660 people who auditioned for the programme, one of the selected 10 contestants is the daughter of our close friend and work colleague, Ana Maria Demestri. Her name is Analu and she is the youngest contestant - only 18 years old.(Photo 1) She is a wonderful Christian girl with a beautiful singing voice. Her dream is to fully equip a sparsely resourced rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. Her Paraguayan celebrity singing partner is an ex-drug addict and plans to do talks with her in schools and on the radio to educate young people on the dangers of drug use.

We were delighted when Analu got us tickets to see the show live last night.(Photo 2) However, in true Paraguayan style they gave out 150 tickets and set out only 100 chairs. We were able to stand at the side but sadly Rup's hand-made "Hello Mum!" poster was not caught by the cameras! It was a unique and memorable experience, not least to see the way the presenter interspersed his commentaries with sudden advertisments for everything from chocolate eggs to ladies sanitary towels! Somehow I don't see it taking off in the UK. We'll keep you posted with Analu's progress in the competition.