Sep 27, 2017

A Way Forward for "Oscar's" Education

Our social worker university intern has provided an update regarding the young 6th grade elementary CAA scholarship program student, a student that I will call "Oscar", that we reported on 90 days ago. "Oscar" is a very bright young student who has some real academic potential if he can just get a bit of help from his less than supportive mother, and from the community.

As you may recall from that last report, "Oscar's" father had been killed years ago in a drug shootout, and "Oscar's" mother had relocated to San Ramon to try to escape her past and find a better life for her 5 children.  After struggling for many years, "Oscar's" mother had decided she needed to try to relocate the family to Nicaragua to escape some very persistent and dangerous drug traffickers in the barrio. So, 90 days ago, our CAA Education Committee members were reluctantly having to say goodbye to "Oscar" as he prepared to leave Costa Rica and the CAA scholarship program.

It now appears that "Oscar's" family is not going to leave for Nicaragua, and "Oscar" may be able to continue his schooling here.  However, the home environment for Oscar and his 3 younger brothers and sister, is still very fragil, with the influence of drugs and drug dealers all through the neighborhood. "Oscar's" mother is pulled every day to rejoin her former life distributing drugs, and dangerous men are always around the house.

But, "Oscar" and his siblings now have some allies -- two social workers and a school psychologist, who are hopeful that their continued intervention with "Oscar" and his mother will finally get the family rehabilitated and in a better position.  In fact, they have alerted the child welfare agency, PANI, of the circumstances of these children, and PANI is pushing hard for the mother and the children to leave the immediate neighborhood to escape this environment of drug trafficking. "Oscar" and his mother are both participating in counseling now, and the social workers are hopeful that "Oscar's" mother will finally eliminate her destructive behaviors, and start focusing on the needs of her children.  "Oscar's" mother knows that she is very close to losing custody of her children if she does not quickly make a dramatic change of course. 

And, the social workers and our CAA program interns are working to find "Oscar" a secondary school location away from his barrio that will allow him to escape the pervasive culture of drugs and violence that pulls in so many victims of his age.  Thanks to the dedication of these professionals, "Oscar" may get to enroll in 7th grade, in a San Ramon area secondary school in another location, in January of 2018,  Hopefully, this will give him a good start on his high school education.

Unfortunately, "Oscar's" story is repeated over and over,  throughout the world --but, because of some timely intervention, perhaps "Oscar" will beat the odds and get to complete his high school education, and go on to be able to provide hope for some economic security for his family.  With education, there can be hope, and a solid education can provide the means to secure a better future!  

Let's all keep working for "Oscar" and give him the strength to pursue his educational goals and be a role model for the rest of his family.  

By sharing this update with our GlobalGiving supporters, we hope to let you know that your financial assistance is making a difference, one "Oscar" at a time.  Thanks you for your generous support for "Oscar" and his fellow CAA scholarship program participants.  Their education depends on your continuing support. 



Jul 24, 2017

Another Series of Spay-Neuter Clinics in San Ramon

Thanks to the donations of supporters through GlobalGiving, and other generous direct supporters within the Community Action Alliance, the CAA Animal Welfare Committee organized and held 3 additional dog spay-neuter clinics over the past 6 months.  During the past year, the CAA Spay-Neuter program has neutered 220 dogs, street dogs, pets of local owners that could not afford to pay for the service, or dogs in local dog rescue facilities.  

This round of clinics was organized and supervised by DVM Mark Knoeppl, the Chair of the CAA Animal Welfare Committee who volunteers his time and partially funded this important work.  One hundred percent of dog rescue work is done by volunteers and volunteer organizations in San Ramon given that the municipalities do not offer this important service.  However, the Costa Rican legislature has just passed a new Animal Cruelty law that provides for much stricter penalties for mis-treatment of animals.  If that law can be effectively enforced, it might offer some additional protection for animals in this country---however, because publicly funded rescue centers are almost non-existent in this country, most of the actual work of taking in animlas removed from owners under this law will fall to volunteer organizations.

Shown in the photo is HW, the wonderful former Austrian who came to Costa Rica many years ago and took the personal challenge to create a dog rescue center called Dogland (San Ramon) in the hills just west of the city.  HW is largely responsible for the well-being of about 200 dogs, and the CAA Animal Welfare Committee is pleased to be able to assist hers, and other area rescue centers, in this important community service work.

Thanks again to all the GlobalGiving supporters who contributed to this effort.  

Jul 3, 2017

Drug Culture Derails Education of Young Student

"Oscar" at First Term 2017 Scholarship Awards
"Oscar" at First Term 2017 Scholarship Awards

I am happy to report that six more of CAA's young scholarship students graduated from elementary school at the end of 2017 and were eligible to enroll into high school in 2017. In our last report, we highlighted the academic success of 4 young women who earned straight A's for the 2016 school year. But for every success story, we understand that there will be some disappointments and this report reflects that reality.     

This report highlights the plight of one very bright December, 2016 elementary school graduate, a young man that I will call "Oscar". As the eldest of four children, Oscar is at a very difficult crossroad right now. Oscar and his siblings lost their father to a drug gang killing a few years back, and Oscar's mother served prison time for dealing drugs only to be released on a witness protection arrangement with relocation to San Ramon. Oscar has been in the CAA scholarship program for 2 years, and despite his excellent elementary school grades, he must leave the program.

Under Costa Rican law, educational attendance is no longer required after completion of elementary school. So, between 6th and 7th grades, many young students are pushed to go to the fields to work to help the family. And, the spector of drug dealing in their barrios is a real barrier to education for many of these students - especially for 12-13 year old young men who are quickly recruited by drug dealers knowing that these young "runners" are treated lightly if caught.

Oscar was awarded scholarship vouchers for first term 2017, but he was not able to use them. Oscar was not able to get into high school first term because Oscar's mother has refused to sign his 2017 high school registration papers despite numerous attempts by CAA and other social agencies to get this done. Was the mother just being irresponsible, or is there some other reason this very capable student is being kept out of school? We recently learned that because of persistent association with and threats from drug dealers, Oscar's mother is moving the family to Nicaragua to find a home away from a particularly vengeful gang.  Whether Oscar can return to school after his relocation is an open question; and this development represents a disappointment for those that have supported Oscar for the past two years.  

Although CAA's supporters through GlobalGiving have helped Oscar get through elementary school; now, we can only stand in solidarity with him and hope that he finds a path to continue his education. Even more importantly, we hope his family finds safety in a new location.

Although the futures of some of these children are filled with uncertainty, your donations are an intrical part of these children's successes.  And, despite some disappointments, we continue to support education for these children in poverty.  Now, we must hand over the reins to a higher power to continue to support and watch over Oscar and his family. Buenas suerte, Oscar. 


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