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Castlegar News Thursday, December 29, 2011

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Philanthropy Worthy Honduran students get a helping hand from up north it, and ten more learned sewing to enable them to do contract sewing work. They made most of the book bags and gym strip required by the children in the program The bulk of the funding required is gathered and coordinated by a committee of the Castlegar Sunrise 2000 Rotary Club, from three sources. The first is by sponsorship of individual students by Rotarians and others at a cost of $100/ primary student, $200/secondary student, $250/vocational student and $300 for university students.

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School is free in Honduras, but if you don’t have a uniform, shoes, books and school supplies, you can’t attend. The children of the mostly single mothers who sell in the six public markets in Tegucigalpa, Honduras barely make enough money to feed their many children, so the kids were not going to school. Instead, as they grew older, with few other alternatives, many turned to petty theft, drugs and prostitution, until three Rotary Clubs in Tegucigalpa got together to form “Alternativas Y Opportunidades” (AYO). The group provided the uniforms, shoes, books and school supplies for 2,400 children in 2011, and in addition they provided counsellors to track their progress in the more than 50 public schools in Tegucigalpa. If a child or youth had scholastic problems, they arranged for tutoring, and if attendance was poor, they investigated the problem and determined whether the child could continue in the program. The average pass rate in Honduran Public Schools is 85 per cent, but those in the Market children Program have a pass rate of 98 per cent. The AYO outfit also operates a medical clinic five days a week; teaches classes on health and hygiene, and has a youth club for the older children where they teach responsibility, cooperation and the dangers of substance abuse. In order to register their child in the program, the mothers must agree to attend classes on parenting. When funding is available, adult literacy classes

Ron Ross (left) of the Castlegar Sunrise Rotary Club poses with program graduate Yesica Banegas and Don Kaminsky, coordinator in Honduras. Submitted photo

are also offered. About eight years ago it was decided to enable some of the better graduates to attend the National University. Tuition is free, but AYO provides books and supplies. Last year, Jessica Banegas, the first university graduate from the

program, with a degree in economics, got a job with a bank. After she received her first paycheque she went to AYO and asked to sponsor two Market Children. A second student, Francisco, has just graduated in November with a degree in accounting, and

is now in the process of finding a job. This year, with a grant from The Rotary Foundation, 120 of the mothers were given business courses to help them improve their businesses or start a new one. Sixteen are utilizing micro-cred-

Market Children Program graduate Yesica Banegas (middle) poses with two children (and their mothers) who she now sponsors through the program. Submitted photo

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120 of the mothers were given business coursesto help them improve their business or start a new one. The AYO group does not give the money to the students, but buys everything by asking for competitive bids. Buying in large quantities reduces the cost for each student. Each year a group of Rotarians from Castlegar and other supporting clubs travels to Tegucigalpa (at their own expense) to meet with the Rotarians there and take pictures of all the children who are supported by the program. It takes a week to take pictures of all the children and youth. Then, after the Rotarians return home, each sponsor is sent a certificate of thanks, which has a picture of “their student.” Some donors will sponsor a child or youth in the name of a friend or relative and give

that to them for Christmas, a birthday or other occasion. The Rotarians are always impressed with the attitude of the students. They regard education as a privilege and are very grateful for the support from Rotary. The second source of funds is grants from the Rotary Foundation. The third is funding from CRCID (The Canadian Rotary Collaboration for International Development), an organization that has representatives from the 23 Rotary Districts with clubs in Canada. They receive funds from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). Recently a B.C.-registered society, HELP Honduras, has been set up to oversee and operate the Market Children Program. It has directors from the Rotary Club of Castlegar Sunrise 2000, plus clubs in Nelson, Creston, Cranbrook and Golden. HELP stands for Health, Education and Literacy Program. There are many other Rotary Clubs supporting the program, including several in the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Washington State and Idaho. Two clubs in Ontario plus Waterford Valley, Newfoundland also provide funding. HELP Honduras has started to develop similar programs in two smaller cities in Honduras, Danli and Santa Barbara and if support and funding becomes available, could expand to other centres. For further information regarding the program, or if you would like to sponsor a child, contact Elaine or Ron Ross at 250-3652257, or reross@telus.net

December 29, 2011 Castlegar News  

The complete version of the December 29, 2011 Castlegar News as it appeared in print

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