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. 

   

Jun 22, 2017

Another Series of Spay-Neuter Clinics in San Ramon, Costa Rica

HW of Dogland-San Ramon
HW of Dogland-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.  

Another Safe & Happy Dogland Rescue Animal
Another Safe & Happy Dogland Rescue Animal
Another of the 200 Resident Dogs at Dogland
Another of the 200 Resident Dogs at Dogland
Apr 6, 2017

Four 2016 Academic Superstars in San Ramon, Costa Rica

CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(1)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(1)

In late January, CAA presented our scholarship students with their first term scholarship vouchers, and cheered them on for another successful year in class. Having graduated our first scholarship student from high school last December, we have re-focused on the remaining students ranging from 4th through 10th grades.

This year, we identified 4 students for academic excellence awards – all young women. These four young ladies, two are in the 6th grade, one in the 7th,grade, and one in the 8th grade, achieved straight A report card scores for 2016 demonstrating their focus on education.  Although these young women are challenged by the lack of family financial resources, they are truly committed to preparing themselves for the opportunity for a better future through educational success. Given that most of these student’s parents did not even finish 6th grade, achieving straight A report cards is even more significant!

Our CAA team hopes that these special academic recognitions will encourage some of the other students to try just a bit harder in 2017 to join this elite group. One young man in elementary school came up after the special awards and exclaimed that he too had good grades - he made 2-B’s and the rest A’s, and hoped that was sufficient to be able to join the four young ladies. We counseled him that perhaps he could focus a little extra attention to those 2 subjects this year, and indeed, he might be able to become the first young man to be recognized for straight A’s in next year’s awards! 

And, we have counseling sessions scheduled in April with the parents, students, and their teachers to make sure that those that have struggled with subjects last year, are regaining their focus on studies in 2017.

Our team also encouraged the high school students to make a commitment to volunteerism - to make time to help others this year. To encourage this volunteerism, we announced that next year, we will present a special Volunteer Recognition Award.  It is important for these young students, who are being assisted by the generosity and concern of others, to recognize that they too can give back to others less fortunate or in need. 

In this first school term, CAA presented scholarship vouchers totaling almost $3500 -- this critical educational assistance would not have been possible without your support.

We are proud of all of our scholarship students and are working hard to give them the help they need to succeed. We want to recognize and thank all of our supporting Global Giving donors and our CAA volunteers in Costa Rica for helping to achieve this success.  

CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(2)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(2)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(3)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(3)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(4)
CAA Academic Excellence Award for 2016(4)
 
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