Les Enfants de Yabiro
In 2010, we rode to Vercelli and back, tracing the via Domitia and via Aurelia, for our latest guides. In association with the trip we also raised money for Les Enfants de Yabiro. Why? Well, having worked with a number of NGO's in the past, I think it is fair to say that I have a realistic view of what foreign agencies can bring to countries in need of development support, but I also have a less favourable view of the way a number of these agencies operate. The AMS, an association founded by our neighbours, Ann-Marie Sasse and her husband, is a prime example of how small agencies can and should be managed. Here is her story, in her words:
Jean-Claude and I were in the open scrub land of the de Haunde province, Burkina Fasso, when a crowd of happy, chatting children stopped to talk to us. As a consequence, we also met their teachers, three for 310 students, who showed us round the school and explained that only the oldest students had classrooms, while the youngest were taught under a simple shelter. It was on this day that we decided to provide them with a classroom too, one that would protect them from sandstorms, rain and above all the sun. The AMS association - children of Yabiro - was created at the end 2008 and thanks to numerous donations from friends, relations, customers and local businesses; we were able to begin the construction of the classroom at the beginning of March 2010.
The Children of Yabiro, now have two fully-equipped classrooms and a water well.
To read more click here:
Pedro Morales, Bolivia
Paul and I were travelling in South America, and more specifically, Bolivia in 2011. After 36 hours in a 4x4 (including one night sleeping on the road, because a section had been washed away), we arrived in Apolo, a tiny town in the Franz Tamayo Province. Here, we stayed in the convent Nuestra Señora de Nazareth, met Sister Lutgarda and after some days, also Pedro who was studying in the garden. When we asked who he was, we were told that he was one of a number of orphans accommodated in the convent. We also learned that he had been a problem at school until Sister Lutgarda had discovered that he needed glasses. From here his whole demeanor changed, not only becoming an outstanding student, but also displaying real musical talent.
We said nothing at the time (though I did give him my flute, anonymously), but of course we did not forget him and when a pilgrim gave us a donation of £750, telling us to "do what you want with it, but make sure it includes a bottle of wine for ourselves", it seemed too much of a coincidence to ignore.
Now, at the age of 18, he has completed his final exams - coming out best in class. He had hoped to go onto study music in La Paz, with a view to becoming a teacher. He did in fact begin his course, but a subsequent government decree that all teaching training posts should be closed, and the expense of having to buy his own instruments, has forced him to change his plans. Now he is about to embark on an engineering course but of course he will still need financial help to pay for the fees and his living costs.
We have asked him to take a small amount of the money for the purchase of a camera, and we have begun a blog so that people who have helped him can follow his progress. To find out more click here: pedro