Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cambiando Vidas Newsletter


Chacala is growing and thriving beyond belief. Mariana will be heading down in just a few weeks to resume her role as President of the Board of Cambiando Vidas, and work like crazy for several months in the Learning Center, revising programs, consulting with Viky, meeting with the kids, and making sure our scholarship students get what they need.

Since August, the children have been back in school and the Dale Reinhardt Learning Center is busy and noisy with the sounds of children working and playing. Isacc is still working with the kids every day after school. We are so blessed to have him.Viky, Alonso, Jamie and Carlos wished to continue with their English class when they ended in Chacala last year, so they have been going to Las Varas on Saturdays to study with our English teacher, Trudy. Viky is working with Trudy to start a regular class again at the Learning Center.“CHACALA LIMPIO” (Project for a clean Chacala)There is a terrific push to create a clean Chacala. Viky, our friend, Jose Enrique, owner of Mahajua Resort, the scholarship kids (EBACH), Mariana, and our good friend Chad Waters, who has financed most of this, have a new plan to not only collect and recycle plastics but to promote a regular program within the community. The kids are going door-to-door, street by street to get the recycling program off the ground.In conjunction with an annual Mexico-wide program, the Primary kids made up teams and greeted each visiting car and bus and passed out information about keeping Chacala clean. They gave each family a garbage bag to collect their trash and instructions for putting it in the large cans that have been placed around the beach area. Once again the Primary kids have won the 1st prize in the plastic recycling contest, a competition of all the rural schools started by Nayarit Governor Ney, who also started the "Guardian" program with the primary kids. The 10,000 pesos prize will be used to pay for continuing garbage removal in Chacala.This program is now being used in conjunction with EBACH's participation in the "Chacala Limpio" program. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chad Waters for his commitment to creating a clean town, and his generous donations to make this program happen. We also want to thank Tushar Atre for his contributions to the sweeping program.

Yesica is a bright 14-year-old, who hasn’t been able to attend much school in her young life. She is the only girl in a family of five, who came to Chacala the year of Hurricane Kenna and lost everything when their beach home was demolished. They returned to Zacatecas for a short time, then came back to Chacala and began rebuilding their home. The mom went to work as a cook, and Yesica was kept at home another year to care for the baby. The dad tried to earn money from fishing, which is very hard for a newcomer. Yesica caught the eye of visiting Canadians, Sher and Jon Alcock, of Sunshine Farms in Kelowna,B.C.Yesica returned to school, was included in E.B.A.C.H and their activities, and Viky has taught her how to use the internet so she could communicate with her donors and friends in Canada.Since she came into the scholarship program, she has been on an accelerated program to finish Primary, and finished in an amazing four months. She is now in Secondary school, which will put her nearer her age group. Viky reports that Yesica should be able to complete Secundaria in two years (6-8th grades) and then go on to high school. The government of Mexico has a program in which students who have not been able to attend regular school can work their way through workbooks for each grade level. and move at their own pace. Viky is in this same program working at the High School level.Viky has taken Yesica into Las Varas to get fresh uniforms and supplies. so she was ready for the transition. This is an example of the tender, loving care the students get from Viky, and demonstrates how generous donors make a real difference in the lives of the children of Chacala.

29 students are currently in the scholarship program. Five of our kids are at University (Arturo, Carolina, Candelario, Gerardo, and Gustavo), eleven in high school in Las Varas and La PeƱita (Alonso, Angelita, Antonelly, Beto U, Chuy, Ernesto, Karina, Sofia, Ramon, Raul and Teresa), seven are at secundaria in Las Varas (Erika, Mariel, Monica, Nena, Olivia, Leti and Pedro), three at Chacala Telesecundaria (Gustavo de Trini, Javier, and Yesica).Beto Munoz graduated from high school has taken several university level classes but has chosen to go into the family business instead of pursuing a university degree. He is still active in EBACH and serves as Vice President of the student club, E.B.A.C.H. His sponsors, Dave & Linda Allen, now sponsor his youngest sister, Leti, who just started Secondaria in Las Varas.During the 2006-07 school year Gerardo will be in his second year at the University of Tepic and Carolina in her first year. Gustavo is in Puerto Vallarta and Arturo is in Neuvo Vallarta, both in their second year. Candelario will be graduating in December 2006, our first student to graduate from University. We are very proud of all their achievements. While in university each student requires $200 a month for 10 months of the year, or about $8,000 for the year. We are so grateful for the generous donors who have make this possible.While at University, Carolina is also enrolled in the "big learning school" in Tepic which is an accelerated and intense English program. They claim that in one year Carolina will be speaking English fluently. The cost is $1300 US for the 365 days of class. Carolina is getting a special scholarship student rate to introduce this new school to Cambiando Vidas. Carolina hopes to study in the U.S. someday.Next year, 2007-08, we'll have Ramon, Antonelly, Ernesto & Teresa ready for University. giving us a total of 8 students in University. When we reflect back just a few years when only a few of the children in Chacala went to high school and most left school after 6th grade, we are so amazed. We know our loyal donors will come through and help make this happen.Costs for the high school students are still $720 USD a year, $360 of which is transportation to and from Las Varas and the balance is for tuition, uniforms and school supplies. If you have a student studying locally in Chacala, who does not require $720, please know that your donation helps pay for the extra costs of the University students as well as all the programs and expenses in the Learning Center. We count on that extra money as not all donors can pay the entire expense incurred by their student, and, as you know, legally, all the money donated must be held on one big pot and distributed according the the needs of the program. It cannot legally be earmarked for a particular student.We try to supply our students with all the necessary tools to be successful. Cambiando Vidas has a charge account open for our scholarship students at a local papeleria where they can get whatever school supplies they need, and Viky is always near in case there is something that needs to be purchased in Puerto Vallarta such as scientific calculators which are not available locally.

(Estudiantes Becados Agradecidos de Chacala, or Grateful Scholarship Students of Chacala)The Scholarship students are still doing a fine job of running their club. They are doing their community service, and have collaborated with others to make the garbage program successful. Alonso is a very strong and well respected leader. Antonelly, Beto and Monica round out the leadership team of EBACH.The club held a Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Dead/Witches) costume party, which was a great success. Sofia won the 200 peso prize for the best costume (portraying a dead person).In August, the EBACH students, took their second Cultural trip, this time to Morelia. 23 students and 8 adults. The trip was paid for by Cambiando Vidas and its donors. The following account of the trip was written, in English, by Maria Antonelly Romero Guerra:“We took a trip to Morelia, thanks to Cambiando Vidas and its donors. E.B.A.CH. says, “thanks very much.”We met in front of Viky’s house at eight o’clock in the morning. When we were all there, we left for Morelia. In the bus we spoke all the way. But when we were tired we were silent and we slept. Sometime we stopped because we wanted to eat.When we arrived in Morelia, we saw the aqueduct. It is really big. We visited the abstract art museum and we played and rested in the park.A place more wonderful we visited was Janitzio. This is an island and is similar to Chacala, because we needed a longboat to get there. In Janitzio, the traditional fish is the “charal”. On the wharf of Janitzio is the commerce, and the people are nice and modest. We spend all day in Janitzio. We were very well. We took so many photos in Janitzio, because it is beautiful!!When we returned we were tired, but we all wanted to know Morelia!!In the hotel, the boys swam in the swimming pool, and even though the water was warm, the boys were cold.The days we were in Morelia were cool, very nice.We learned so much about the culture and the people in Morelia.And the most important thing is that we learned about a place that we don’t know before!!Finally, I would like to do a commentary about why we couldn’t go to Oaxaca, and decided to go to Morelia instead. In Oaxaca the teachers are on strike, so the schools are closed and the traffic is stopped. So we couldn’t go to that state, as we had planned.Well, I think that is all that I can say, but thanks so much, again.”

We are so grateful to Kalispell Rotary for their their long time support of the Dale Reinhardt Learning Center and the children of Chacala. Rita Fitzsimmons & Art Thompson have sent 40 plus pairs of brand new tennis shoes to the children of Chacala. Dean Drenk, who came to Chacala with Habitat for Humanity, delivered the shoes to us. It was “Shoe Christmas” for the kids.The Kalispell Club has been there, supporting us, since the very beginning. The following is an excerpt fromThe History of the Chacala Library, recently posted on our web site. . “The original library was founded by Dale Reinhardt and built in 1996 with funds from Rotary International and Rotary North Carolina. A year later, a couple from Kalispell, Montana, Betty and Jim Thompson, visited Chacala & became patrons of the library...Rita Fitzsimmons and Art Thompson, Rotarians from Kalispell have also been working since 1998 to channel funds from their club to the Chacala library, often saving the library from closing its doors.”Our request for new computers is really going well. Viky and Mariana have been collaborating with Berkeley Rotary and others for many months. George Luna from Berkeley Rotary has taken up a casual collection of his members. Since Berkeley Rotary worked in New Orleans this past winter, the New Orleans Club, in gratitude for the help from Berkeley Rotary, added a very generous donation to the computer fund. George and Reg Garcia came to Chacala recently, bought four new computers, and delivered them to the Learning Center. Viky is very excited and says “gracias a nuestro donodores.”Our web site now has the Rotary story 1996-2006. (www.cambiandovidas.org) We also now have PayPal on our web site to make it easier for you to make your donations.

You can make a contribution to Cambiando Vidas by mailing a check to Cambiando Vidas, 245 Mt. Hermon Rd., PMB 312, Scotts Valley, Ca. 95066 OR by using PayPal on our web site. THANKS!

CAMBIANDO VIDAS is a charitable organization with United States Internal Revenue Service Ref.: 501 (c) 3 tax -exempt status. EIN 73-1668982=

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