Newsletter - January 2010

Dear friends,

Happy New Year to all of you from our friends and partners Haide, Barbara and Elsa and all the children at the Isla de Niños in Capilla del Monte, Argentina. Thank you so much for all your support throughout the year 2009.

The school year in Argentina comes to an end in November, so that time of the year is always extremely busy for our friends. At school children have to pass end of the year exams and tests, which Haide, Barbara and Elsa help them prepare for during our after school program. It is crucial for our children to do well in those tests, as they wouldn’t be allowed to move onto the next grade level if they failed.

At the same time everyone is getting ready for our Christmas celebration, an eagerly awaited and much anticipated event, where all the children, their siblings and families get together. The preschoolers present what they have learned and get to take the folders with all their work home, as for them, too, the school year has come to an end. This year they had practiced a play about the four seasons, preparing posters with beautiful paintings of all that represents the seasons for them. Mothers, grandparents and our friends are very proud of what the little ones have accomplished.

And of course, Santa came.

For us here it may be hard to understand the significance of this celebration. For our children and their families, though, this is such a joyous, festive event, where each child receives one present from Santa, where everyone is included and nobody forgotten, where there is food for everyone, where they are safe, where they feel beloved and part of a warm and caring community. Santa doesn’t make it to any of their homes, but at the “Isla de Niños” they know that they matter and that people care about them, even in such far away places as the USA.

For our teachers this celebration means the end of the school year, having supported the 75 children in our care through another year, with all its challenges and personal success stories. Making sure all the children in their care felt appreciated, received nutritious meals every day, were supported in their academic and personal growth and were able to simply enjoy their childhood.

Thank you for making our work possible.

Please remember that you are making a huge difference in the lives of our children.

As you know, many of the children in our care eat only what they get in our centers, there is little mothers can afford to buy. All our families live without running water, which means no bathrooms, shower etc., some don’t have electricity and cook over an open fire. Most live in shacks they rent, some live on land that isn’t theirs, having to move often, whenever someone else claims the property or whenever they cannot afford to pay the rent anymore. Haide told me that one young mother moved into a cave this year in desperation, as she had no other place to stay. You can imagine how dangerous it is for children being home alone while their mothers are out working, when their homes offer no protection. At the “Isla de Niños” they are safe.

So – thank you.

Thank you for making sure children like Gustavo, who wandered the streets of Capilla del Monte and walked into our doors when he was barely two years old find a safe haven with us, thank you for making sure the little ones can play and learn and be children. Thank you for enabling our school aged children to receive after school care, warm meals, tutoring and small educational grants that allow them to stay in school instead of going to work at age 13.

Thank you. For supporting our children and making the work in Argentina possible. And please, if you could, in any way : Spread the word. We need you.

Have a very Happy new Year,

¡ Feliz Ano Nuevo !

Andrea Hewitt