Great news! As you know, thanks to your generous support we were able to replace the playground and renovate the bathrooms at Verbo's pre-K - 11 grade school in Veracruz last fall. The staff was so encouraged by your giving; it's not common for indigenous workers in third world countries to see a project that they recommend get funded and completed so quickly. They were motivated to canvas the community and encourage more local families to enroll their students. The 2011 school year got underway in mid-February with 42 NEW STUDENTS!! That's a remarkable jump - from 152 to 194 students for this new year. Some of the new students include kiddos like David and Rishi, who are both very happy to be at school instead of having to stay at home or work like so many other Nicaraguan kids their age.
As the song goes, we've only just begun! The school is still operating at only 72% of their operating budget. The good news is that's up from having only 50% of their operating budget last year. The bad news is that's still a 28% deficit the school administration has to deal with. Right now they're managing cashflow as best as possible to work around the gap (i.e. delaying staff paychecks, doing without needed equipment, etc.). But in order to enroll more impoverished students they are going to need long-term, stable funding. We're getting ready to roll out a new "Project Destino" student scholarship program whereby Nicaraguan parents pledge the amount they can afford toward tuition and then are matched up with American donors who pledge to make up the difference. The result will be a school operating at 100% of their operating budget...and, more importantly, more children getting an education and hopefully breaking out of the cycle of poverty into which they were born.
For now celebrate with us that as a DIRECT RESULT of your giving MORE KIDS in a very poor THIRD-WORLD community are GOING TO SCHOOL!! Does it get any better than this?!
Your VNDF Partners
Nolvia Morales, the principal of the Verbo School in Vera Cruz, Nicaragua, recently sent us the following note to share with all of you - our Global Giving donors - so that you would know how grateful the teachers and staff are for your financial investment in their work. Following is the Spanish text Nolvia sent and then a loosely translated English version!
Hola Tim!! (para Tim Adams, director de VNDF)
Reciban un caluroso saludo de parte de todos los maestros y del mío, que Dios les bendiga a través de sus múltiples actividades.
Soy una persona muy agradecida y es precisamente lo que deseo expresarles en este correo:
1- Mil gracias por apoyarnos con los salarios de los maestros, no se como hubiera hecho cada mes sin esa ayuda ya que este dinero complementa la parte que no percibimos dado a la situación económica que estamos pasando al tener pocos alumnos en el colegio.
2- Mil gracias por remodelar los baños del colegio. Había pasado muchos años sin mantenimiento y ahora tiene otro aspecto con su espejo, su pintura y todos los detalles que la hace lucir diferente.
3- Mil gracias por hacer posible la compra de los juegos de los niños. Ellos lo han disfrutado tanto… y que gozo nos da el ver sus caritas acompañado son una hermosa sonrisas. Ellos son el motivo de que este colegio funcione y de que nos preparemos para dar lo mejor.
4- Mil gracias por hacer posible próximamente la compra de una fotocopiadota que tanto la necesitábamos para sacarle copia a los exámenes que aplicamos a nuestros alumnos, para copias de cualquier documento de la oficina, para copias de algún libro que necesiten los alumnos o los maestros, etc.
El hacer también posible la compra de libros de consulta para los alumnos como para los maestros… WOW que bendición!! y láminas ilustradas de las diferentes materias que tanto carecemos, es algo tan útil ya que esto les ayudara a los maestros a la hora de planificar sus clases como consultas y/o para apoyo.
Sabemos que detrás de todo esto, existen muchas personas voluntarias que están involucradas de la cual deseamos puedan saber lo agradecidos que estamos ya que han hecho posible cada uno de estos proyectos donde los únicos beneficiarios han sido nuestros alumnos (incluyendo los chichos que atendemos del orfanatorio Casa Bernabé) y los docentes (que a pesar de su bajo salario, dan lo mejor de ellos).
DIOS LES BENDIGA GRANDEMENTE!!!!!!
Loose English translation:
Hi Tim! (Tim Adams - VNDF Executive Director)Please receive this warm greeting from all the teachers and myself, may God bless you. I am very grateful and we want to thank you for precisely all that you have done for us and our school: 1 - Thank you for supporting the teachers' salaries, we would not have the money we need every months to pay them without your help because the economy is difficult and we currently do not have enough students who can afford to pay the full tuition to cover the teachers' salaries. 2 - Thanks for remodeling the bathrooms at school. They had not been maintained for several years and now they are beautifully done. The mirrors - the paint - all the details make it look so different. 3 - Many thanks for making it possible to renovate the children's playground. They have enjoyed it so much ... and that gives us joy to see their faces all with their beautiful smiles. They are the reason that we all work at this school give our very best for them.
4 - Thank you for making it possible for us to buy a copy machine that we needed to make tests for our students, and make copies of office documents and books for the students and teachers.We also heard that you are raising money to purchase books for the students and teachers ... WOW what a blessing! We are lacking various materials and your support will help the teachers plan better for their classes and support their students.
We know that behind all of your efforts there are many volunteers who are involved. We want them to know how grateful we are and that their gifts have greatly benefited our studetns (including the children who live at the Casa Bernabe orphanage nearby) and the teachers who continue to give their very best professionally despite the fact that they would make more money if they worked at a nearby public school.
God bless you greatly!
- Nolvia Morales
Last February the Verbo School administration said that renovating the school's bathrooms and playground were top priorities. Both were in such bad condition that it was deterring parents from the nearby gated communities from enrolling their children at the school - parents who can afford to pay the full tuition rate. Increasing enrollment will help (1) bring the teachers' salaries up to a sustainable level and (2) provide needed funds so that we can scholarship some of the 1,000 impoverished children living in the community that do not currently attend school at all.
Through our first Global Giving Open Challenge in April you helped us raise more than $9,000 to help pay for the bathroom and playground renovations. The money was raised, the renovations were made, and the job is done! Not only did the funds pay for the project but by purchasing the materials in Nicaragua and hiring local workers in Vera Cruz we were able to make your donations go further and employ people who needed work and infuse money into the local economy. Members from Cedar Run Community Church (Oakton, VA) and West End Presbyterian Church (Richmond, VA) worked together with the hired workers to assemble the playground during their August trip to Vera Cruz.
We are so grateful for your partnership and investment - 100% of the funds we receive through Global Giving goes directly to the school projects. Your dollars are making a tangible difference! Our next project is to renovate and convert one of the existing school rooms to an on-site library for the students and local community. Like the playground and bathroom project the goal of the library project will be to improve the children's educational environment and to increase enrollment from the nearby gated communities. Currently there is no public library system in the country of Nicaragua. We will have more information and pre-project planning pictures after our next exploratory trip this week. Contact us if you know of any schools, school Spanish clubs, libraries or bookstores that would like to learn how they can partner with us on this project.
Dear VNDF Friends and Supporters,
We are deeply grateful for your partnership and generosity in helping us raise more than $9,000 to help fund teachers' salaries and make critically-needed repairs to the Verbo School infrastructure in Veracruz, Nicaragua through the Global Giving spring 2010 Open Challenge. Tim Adams, VNDF Executive Director, went to Veracruz in early June to meet with the Verbo School staff, finalize the contracts for the bathroom repairs, purchase the materials for the new playground equipment, and begin planning for the phase of enrollment and physical capacity expansion.
TEACHER SALARY INCREASE
We have been able to send $1,150 each month to the school to increase the teachers' salaries. All of the teachers are significantly underpaid compared to their public school counterparts but stay in their positions at the Verbo School because they believe strongly in the school's mission. However because of a drop-off in funding from a U.S. donor the teachers were facing nearly unlivable salaries going into this school year (which runs Feb - Nov). Several of the older teachers whose experience is particularly valuable to the Verbo administration were considering having to leave. VNDF's pay increase has enabled the school to retain all of the current staff and pay benefits as well. The majority of the Verbo School teachers are working single mothers and sustainble income is critically-important to their families' well-being.
BATHROOM RENOVATION WORK
The current bathrooms are virtually unusable and highly unsanitary. Because they are a health hazard several potential students' parents have opted not to enroll their children at the Verbo School. All of the toilets will be removed, plumbing repairs will be made, and the current trough-style sinks will be replaced with individual sink basins.
PLAYGROUND RENOVATION WORK
We have contracted with Heberto Ramirez, Verbo's lead construction manager, to head up the playground and bathroom projects. The new equipment will include: a picnic table, slide, swings, monkey bars, climbing rope, and more.
LEVERAGING FUNDING FOR NEW SUPPORT
Another exciting update is that our fundraising success prompted the involvement of the U.S.-based nonprofit ORPHANetwork to launch a $20,000 fundraising drive for the Verbo School in Verazcruz to provide new computers, improve the school's electrical and internet service and repair the school's basketball courts.
We will post photos of the bathroom and playground renovations as soon as the work is underway sometime in July. In addition we're working on rolling out our "Project Destino" sponsorship program to raise sustained funds for teachers' salaries and school costs. The project will match individuals, organizations and classrooms in the U.S. to teachers and classrooms at the Verbo School. If you're interested in learning more about how you or perhaps your students' school could get involved in supporting the Verbo School please email us at email@example.com and we'll send you an information package.
As Nolvia Morales, the Directora of the Verbo School said "Mil gracias por su interes y apoyo. Dios les bendiga!!!!" (A thousand thank-yous for your interest and help. God bless you!)
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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