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Apr 17, 2017

Initiatives that change lives

Among the communities in the Cangrejal Valley, El Pital has been the community with the poorest access to basic services.  Until recently, it did not have an adequate graywater system to cover the demands of the area’s rapid population growth.  For several years, diseases struck this community heavily, culminating in health crises such as dengue, zika, chikungunya and malaria epidemics.

Both, Water Board and community members consider that an adequate graywater system is not only important to avoid the outbreak of epidemic diseases, but also to avoid contamination of the aquifer.  This becomes of utmost importance since the community is located on the banks of a main river, and it is the source of properly treated drinking water for communities.  They also believe that the served population must be educated in waste management, cleaning and general maintenance of their graywater system.

Carmindo (65-years old), member of the Water Board of El Pital, commented that "…after making an evaluation of the Water and Sanitation project and applying a community survey, we decided to carry out different micro projects in sanitation training and management of graywater systems, dry baths, ecological stoves, and reforestation of the basin”.  In the first weeks of March 2017, preparations began for the implementation of the "School and Healthy Home" program (ESCASAL) - a comprehensive program that covers all areas around a water project (management, health, and environmental health, law, sustainability, and others).  The training is offered to the Water Board, community’s residents, and schoolchildren.

Carmindo continues to explain that, "This year we have many challenges, ahead since we have already completed the design of the drinking water project for the village, and we are looking for more support to conclude it.  We are also strengthening the leadership of our Water Board with training and sharing of experiences.  Our communities will have the necessary knowledge to maintain environmental sanitation in their homes, schools, churches, and in the community in general”.

“Thanks to the collaboration of volunteers and donors, we have been able to build and rehabilitate the graywater system in the community of El Pital, which is an eco-friendly graywater system, and is a model for other communities in the area.  This makes us feel very proud.  We are sharing our experience and knowledge with other communities that want and need to build a system like ours.  We hope they continue to support us so our children, young people and women have a better standard of living", concludes Carmindo ”.

Apr 13, 2017

Overcoming and helping to overcome barriers

 The Un Mundo Special Education and Health Program emerged in response to concerns of parents of disabled children who suffered from the lack of access to special education and health services.   During three years, with the support of Un Mundo, children were transported daily to a special school at the nearest town;  but the program could only support at most nine children, and it created problems for those few.  In addition to the long and difficult road they had to travel daily, children were separated from their families and friends.

 Finally, the parents of the disabled children, who make up the Parents Association that runs the project, accompanied by Un Mundo, decided to approach the local educational authorities to request the inclusion of their children into the regular school systems in their communities.  Several teachers and heads of schools argued they did not have the proper infrastructure nor the needed training to take care of children with disabilities.  However, the Parents Association, in conjunction with Un Mundo, had already anticipated this possible scenario and had previously prepared a network of young volunteers to take care of children and youngsters with physical-motor and learning disabilities in the classroom.  Thus teachers would have appropriate help in every classroom where a child with a disability was present.  This was one of the first achievements in our communities, thanks to the efforts of the Parents Association, the network of young volunteers, Un Mundo, and the unconditional support of our donors.

It has been a few years since we began the process of integrating children with disabilities into regular schools and we talked to one of the teachers who at the time was not very convinced with the positive results of our School Inclusion for the Disabled project.

We talked with Isabel Juárez, a teacher of generations who has contributed to the teaching of children capable of developing numerous skills in education and culture.  She has worked in the communities of El Pital and Toncontin in the Cangrejal Valley region.  During a meeting in 2013 with Un Mundo staff and members of the disabled children’s Parents Association, Isabel stated that she “had had many doubts about the program since we had never worked in special education and had not received training in that area. Now, everything has changed as result of training and motivation; as well as the support offered to children who have certain types of physical and/or mental problems.  All this has helped me as a teacher, educator, and person.  Now, I am more socially aware of people with disabilities.  

According to my perception, the program has caused a significant impact in each participating school.  This is especially true when we look at the excellent coordination that exists between the volunteers and the teachers.  The positive result has been the way children have been helped to overcome their limitations.  Today, I am not a teacher any longer.  I am a school principal. In this position, I can support teachers by raising awareness about the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in our community’s regular schools.  All this has been made possible thanks to the support of our donors.”  

Apr 13, 2017

Against all odds Yes, we can!

The Un Mundo Literacy Connections Program emerged to address high dropout rates, learning disabilities, lack of teachers in some communities or absenteeism in others.  It is quite common that the oldest kids in a family leave school before the school year ends to accompany their parents to the coffee harvest in other regions. Once they return to their school, they face frustration due to their lack of knowledge, and so in some cases they drop out of school.  

The literacy connections program is providing literacy services and after school reinforcement through the reading and writing clubs, youth club, and adult club, as well as with its famous Biblioblandido character (a masked character who goes from community to community, inviting reading and writing through the narrative of stories), and a community library.  

Currently our Literacy Connections program serves eight communities.  Late in 2016, the program was launched in the remote community of Los Planes. There our well trained community voluntary mentor, Aminta López, coordinates the reading and writing club, the youth club, and the adult club, all made possible thank to our communities’ volunteers and donors. 

Although Los Planes is remote, it is not exempt from the epidemic of violence and insecurity that has plagued the country lately, forcing people to stay in their own houses.  Until now, no one had fled from the community, but the Secretary of Education decided to remove the schoolteacher, arguing that there were not enough students. 

Then our community volunteer decided to take over the responsibility of schoolteacher. Now she is in charge of the school three days a week. The remaining day she attends all the clubs.  We do not know if the Secretary of Education will appoint a new schoolteacher for this academic year at some point, but meanwhile Aminta has taken responsibility for Los Planes children’s education, regardless of the violence, insecurity, and lack of government support.  Aminta is able to continue with this effort thank to our donors.

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