Closing our center in Posadas - March 10, 2009

Dear friends,

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I am writing to you today to let you all know that we will have to close one of our centers in Argentina.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how we got to this point, how the decision was made and what our plans for the future are.

As most of you know we have been struggling financially during the past 3 years. Due to a sharp and continuous rise in costs of living in Argentina and a less favorable exchange rate between our countries we had not been able to cover our monthly costs for the centers in Posadas and Capilla del Monte through our regular donations anymore, but had to start using funds from one time donations and from additional fundraisers to cover our monthly costs.

A year ago we got to the point where we could not keep up with the rising costs at all, and saw our savings being used up at an alarming rate. That was when we cut all programs we felt could be cut without compromising the core of our centers.

We cut back on the youth groups, on psychologists attending to the children, and on the mothers’ groups. Our partners in Argentina were looking into getting second jobs as they were earning a salary that could barely sustain them. They saved and cut back wherever they could, but there was very little they could do in addition to what had been implemented already, as they had always run an extremely frugal and tight operation.

This past summer we realized that we would be able to sustain both centers for another year, but unless a miracle happened, we would then have to make dramatic changes. Our partners in Argentina, Haide and her sister Elsa, were informed of the limits of our long term funding, and after many sleepless nights and discussions among all five teachers involved in the centers, they came to the conclusion that we had to close one of the centers. The alternative of trying to keep both centers running just as a preschool and eliminate the after school program was dismissed, as the costs of renting, managing and maintaining both centers would still be too high, and as our teachers would not be able to live on half a salary, while at the same time they would be prevented from pursuing a full time job elsewhere.

That is why, with deep regret and great sadness, after having served the needy children in Posadas for over 15 years, we will have to close the center in Posadas in April.

The decision to close the center in Posadas rather than the center in Capilla del Monte was made by our partners for various reasons :

  • Posadas is a city where other programs for children in need are in place, and where our children have a chance of getting a warm lunch at school or finding some support through a different organization. In Capilla del Monte, which is a small rural town, we are the only existing non-profit organization in town.
  • Capilla del Monte has a long waitlist of children urgently needing our help, and the number of children we are serving there is currently higher than in Posadas.
  • We don’t have to pay rent for the center in Capilla del Monte, as the center is located on Elsa’s property.
  • The poverty and need of our children in Capilla del Monte is even greater than the poverty experienced in Posadas.

Even though it is heartbreaking to have to weigh the needs of one group of poor children against the needs of another group of poor children, there was no other solution we could find, and that is why we will have to close our “Isla de Niños” in Posadas.

Haide, my friend and partner in Argentina with whom I started “Isla de Niños” more than 15 years ago, will move to Capilla del Monte, and join Elsa and her daughter Barbara there to work as the administrator and third – and urgently needed - teacher at the “Isla de Niños” in Capilla del Monte. We hope to be able to accept some of the most urgent cases from our waitlist in Capilla del Monte once Haide has joined the team there, and will restart programs such as the Youth Program, the Mother’s Group and support from our psychologist. That way we hope to service our children in full capacity again, with a well structured and multi-faceted program. We will most likely be servicing around 60 children.

Our two teachers in Posadas, Liliana and Carola, are currently looking for new positions. We would like to express our profound gratitude to them for their commitment to “Isla de Niños” and the children they worked with so lovingly over the past years, and we wish them the very best of luck for their future.

There are a number of children in Posadas who we would like to continue to support, even when the “Isla de Niños” is closed. Those are children who are doing well at school, who want to continue attending school but will not be able to unless they receive some financial support to pay for bus fares, school uniform, school materials and clothes.

Our hope is that we can offer grants to those children to enable them to continue their education. Haide will be traveling to Posadas on a regular basis to keep in touch with them and make sure the grants are used well.

Please stay with us. We need you. It is devastating that in these difficult economic times the ones who need us most are the ones we cannot support anymore. Please help us make sure that our children in Capilla del Monte will continue to have a safe, nurturing place to go where they receive a good education, support and love from caring adults. I know that all charities and non-profit organizations are feeling the impact of the global crisis. Please continue to help us make our work possible. We need you, more than ever. Without you we won’t be able to keep our “Isla de Niños” in Capilla del Monte open.

If you pledged annual support last year, please be so kind and renew your pledge this year. If you know anyone who might be interested in supporting “Children’s Island”, please spread the word. If you would like to get more involved, please contact us any time. We do need you all.

And if you have already pledged this year, THANK YOU so very very much. Our work would come to a standstill without you.

To end on a more positive note, we are grateful to be able to continue our work with and for the many needy children in Capilla del Monte, and are very much looking forward to offering our various community services such as the mother’s group and the youth group again.

Please know that “Isla de Niños” in Capilla del Monte is very much appreciated and valued by the parents of our children and the community in general. The mayor of Capilla del Monte once said to Elsa:”Thank you for being here. I will give you all the support you need. The only thing I cannot give you is money, because I don’t have any”.

That is where we can step in, from far away, we can connect to a community in need and help ensure that their neediest children and families have enough to eat, can go to school, have caring adults by their side and help support them in their struggle to escape the cycle of poverty.

Have a wonderful spring.

In the name of Haide, Elsa, Barbara and all our children in Argentina, thank you so much for your commitment and continued support.

¡Gracias!

Andrea Hewitt