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Katie and Sarah Miles 2006

Thursday, 26 January, 2006

In the last issue of the SRF Newsletter, we briefly mentioned that Katie and Sarah Miles from Birmingham had been working with our partner organisation, the Berriz Missionary Centre, in the El Viejo area of Nicaragua. They were there as a result of contacting the Santa Rosa Fund, and their primary purpose was to conduct research into disaster preparedness and response. During their time there they faced a tornado, were stranded in a national bus strike, and witnessed first-hand disaster response to severe flooding caused by Hurricane Stan.Although they spent only a month there, they witnessed poverty enough to come back determined to raise money for the Santa Rosa Fund and the work of the nuns in El Viejo. Through friends, family and talks and reports – like the one shown here which appeared in The Wilmslow Express in January – they managed to raise over £1,000, all of which they donated to the Fund. The Miles family took the decision to go without Christmas presents in 2005 and to donate all the money that they would have spent on them to Katie and Sarah’s chosen cause, the Santa Rosa Fund, fully aware that much of the Fund’s financial resources would go to support the projects run by the nuns of the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo.

Sister pledge to help poor in Nicargua

Sister pledge to help poor in Nicargua

Sarah said: “Our time in Nicaragua has made us aware of how important political pressure and campaigns such as Vote for Trade Justice are to raise awareness of the international rules and regulations that keep countries such as this in poverty in order to serve the needs of the rich. The scale of the issue is so huge that we cannot resolve it single-handedly, but we can play a small part by raising awareness and raising money to continue the good work we saw in operation whilst we were out there.”

It goes without saying that the Fund is immensely grateful to Katie and Sarah.

To support the evidence of Katie and Sarah’s eyes, the following figures relate to the department of Chinandega (in which is located the town of El Viejo and the Cosigüina Peninsula), and they highlight the need for further support for educational initiatives in the region. Rick and Pat’s report on pages 3-5 of this newsletter gives some details of the support the Fund has given this year. Perhaps the Santa Rosa Fund can improve on this next year – certainly the need is great.

The figures were presented in a Forum organised by Save The Children and held in Chinandega in March this year. The total population of the department of Chinandega is 441,300.

  • Pre-school children absent from school 28,091
  • Primary aged children absent from school 19,004
  • Secondary aged children absent from school 27,465
  • Children working 1,717
  • Disabled children not attending school 2,311
  • Illiterate children under the age of 14 17,854
  • Illiterate children over the age of 14 11,287

The presentation also listed reasons for school absence, including:

  • Child labour (including domestic work)
  • Unemployment and poverty
  • Migration
  • Distance from school
  • Lack of access to suitable facilities for special needs children
  • Parental attitudes
  • Agricultural production cycles
  • Parental illiteracy
  • Climate
  • Lack of food and illness
  • Lack of understanding from teachers
  • Family disintegration

Another supporter of the Santa Rosa Fund, Sara Roberts, is currently researching the issue of child labour and child slavery for a BBC programme which is expected to be produced in 2007. The programme may use some examples from the area surrounding the town of El Viejo in the Cosigüina Peninsula.


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