January 2013 Letter

Zayra working on making a wallet out of a recycled milk box.

Good Morning to all of our Donors,

I wanted to wish everyone a very happy new year and a great start to 2013. I wanted to begin this letter with apologizing sincerely for the lack of communication between us and our donors. As many of you know the scholarship program is not my only project and although, this is not an excuse, I have found that I have taken on a bit more than I can handle. I have been working very hard with our scholarship students which has left me with little time to write the monthly updates that I had hoped to do during 2012. However, it is a new year and I am going to make it a priority to update our donors once a month on how our students are doing and what we have been up to in our Ecological club. I also would like to mention that I understand that some have had trouble getting their pictures of their students or have not received photos at all. Please let me know as soon as possible and I will make sure that I get this pictures and any information missing by February.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the growth of the program. As of now we have 64 students in the program. With the amazing support of our donors this year we were able to add 17 students for this fiscal school year. In the past we have only been able to add up to 10. Thank you so much for all of your support. As I mentioned above, this job has become more then I can do successfully and therefore I am going to be looking and working on finding someone who can take over the position of collecting donations and organizing our students and donors. The idea is that to be sustainable we need someone who can speak both English and Spanish and can work part time in collection donations, having contact with our donors, organizing students and donors and sending our annual thank you letters and photos. We would like to have someone who is more permanent then a Peace Corps volunteer. We are still working on details for this position but if there is anyone interested or would like to learn more about how they can help us please let us know. We want to phase out the role of the Peace Corps Volunteer as coordinator because this is not sustainable for the program. However, we will be having another volunteer arrive in April and this person will help me with the transition as well as focus on the Ecological Club. The role of the Peace Corps Volunteer will be to support the program and mainly focus on working with the students. Thank you for your patience in all of this. The program is growing and we must grow with it.

Another point I would like to address is what the donations are used for. I know that sometimes there can be confusion in why we have this program and I would like to do my best to clarify this. We ask for a donation of 200 dollars to send one student to high school for one year. Of this 200 dollars $180 goes to the student via their parent or guardian. We take 10% from the donation and this is put into a separate account. This money is used to support our Ecological Club to buy materials for our projects. We also use this money for projects such as our Ecological Club space at UNORCAC. We have been saving up this money and hope to be putting in windows in this space this year. Of the $180, $120 is given to the students in September. This is used to buy school materials, school uniforms, the matriculation cost, and transportation. In February we will be giving out the remaining $60 and they must bring in all receipts of purchases. There is no tuition to attend school here in Ecuador but the cost of everything else is enough that many families can not afford and therefore do not send their children on to high school. This is the purpose of this program. We are helping the families and if they need more materials then the $180 can purchase the family must also invest in their children's education. If there are any more concerns or questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

As I mentioned above we currently have 64 students in the program and about half of them attend the Ecological Club every Wednesday from 2:30 until about 4:00PM. Before I went home to the states for Christmas we were busy making recycled cards and were able to teach a donor and her children when they came to visit us. It was a great opportunity for the scholarship students to be leaders and teach others what they are doing.

Alex and Manuel working on recycled wallets.

In October we had a couple visit us from the states and they brought donations of yarn and needles and for two weeks with the their help as well as another donor we were taught how to do some basic knitting. Several of the scholarship students, including the boys, truly loved learning this technique and I hope that we can do more advanced projects with those interested in the future.

Learning how to Knit with donated needles and yarn.

Teaching our new scholarship students and visiting donors how to make recycled paper.

This coming Wednesday, January 23, 2013, two fellow Peace Corps Volunteers are coming to visit and help me teach the scholarship students how to make recycled earrings and wallets out of tires that would otherwise be burned. If any donors would like to come and share this class with us you are more then welcome. I truly love being able to bring in other people to share skills and knowledge with our scholarship students.

In the time that I have here I would like to do a sexual education course with our scholarship students with the help of a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer. I believe that this would be greatly beneficial since most of our students are at that age and little to nothing is taught in the high schools. I also want to continue working with recycled art projects with the hopes of selling what we make one day. I think this would a fantastic opportunity for them to be leaders, to be proud of what they make, to learn business skills, and to support their own program.

I hope that this letter was informative and helpful. I apologize again for the lack of communication but I truly will make this a priority for this year. I also will keep everyone updated on the transition of the program and please if you know of anyone who can help us with this position, please contact me at aseac.ecuador@gmail.com. Also, please contact me if you are still missing your photos or any information. I have been working on a website, but have had to put it aside but will be working on finishing and getting that up and running in the near future.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and thank you so much for all of your support. This program would not exist without each and everyone of you and we appreciate everything so much. These kids are growing and becoming leaders and role models for their communities, for Cotacachi, and for Ecuador. Thank you!

Take care

Paige Fisher and the ASEAC team.

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