Hope for Change International E-Newsletter Autumn, 2011
Overview of past year
Dear H4C friends and supporters:
Welcome to our annual E-newsletter. We hope this past year has been good to you and your loved ones. If you are new to our H4C network then we extend a warm welcome to you as well. James, Paul, and I treasure your loyalty and your financial support of the humanitarian projects sponsored by Hope for Change International. Within the framework of today’s global community there are numerous organizations dotting the landscape of non-profits. Each presents their particular agenda and so many of them call out to you. We are grateful that you have chosen Hope for Change as one of your charitable causes.
Despite the ongoing global recession we are happy to pass along news that H4C projects are moving forward in our three primary regions of focus: 1) East Africa 2) India/ Nagaland 3) The Philippines. In the past twelve months successful “project evaluation trips” have taken place to each of the three regions. James has been to East Africa twice, Paul has been to The Philippines, and Sarah made her way to India and Nagaland. More details of the trips will be shared in their individual reports.
Throughout October, 2010 – September, 2011 our H4C home office has continued in just that, the Smith home. By avoiding office rental expense and accompanying office and Internet phone lines we are able to continue our boast that, “All funds designated to specific projects go 100% to those projects.” Minimal copy paper, postage, and ink cartridges receipts come out of undesignated funds. Another important financial disclosure is that, “All H4C Field Representatives cover their travel expenses out of personal resources.” Thank you to those personal resources!
Our social-networking presence continues to develop. Thanks to all who follow H4C on Twitter. Thanks to those who have designated H4C as a personal “cause” on Facebook. Thanks to those who have read and commented on our blog site, www.Mblele.org
Some particular “thank you” words are in order at this time. James, Paul, and I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Christine and Matt Deakin, Lynne Formica, Francis Obaika, Mariner’s Harbor & the Guido Family, Dave’s Coffee Shop, Tarrence Motley, and a
handful of unnamed individuals. As we like to say, “You know who you are.”
James Smith & Paul Grimsland with Zeresh and Shahzad Peters at Mariner’s Harbor
In late July, 2011 H4C was introduced to a Finland-based non-profit entitled Help 2 Orphans
. Through a friend and a chain of communications we met Doris Bracero, a New Yorker, who had plans to serve on staff of a Help2Orphans center in Thailand. The orphanage is located in Um-phang, Thailand, was established three years ago, and cares for approximately thirty Burmese children. These children lost their parents due to the unrest in Myanmar and have fled across the Burma/Thailand border as refugees. It is incomprehensible and heartbreaking to imagine what these children have endured. Doris needed a USA-based non-profit to work in conjunction with Help2Orphans. The immediate cooperation effort was for a fundraiser to be held on Sunday, August 21, 2011. We agreed to the partnership. The fundraiser was held at Mariner’s Harbor Restaurant in Kingston, NY and was a huge success. At this writing Doris is in Bangkok, Thailand awaiting road travel as soon as the typhoon flooding recedes. You can see a photo of Doris and read more about her on our blog site www.Mbele.org
Tarrence Motley & Tony Levin at the Birthday Bash
Paul’s Birthday Bash
On Friday night, June 19, 2011 courageous music-goers braved our NY version of Monsoon to attend Paul Grimsland’s “Birthday Bash” held in Saugerties, NY at Dave Meade’s Coffee Shop on upper Partition Street in the village. Our braving-the-weather resolve did not leave us disappointed! Au contraire, all music lovers were rewarded by the soul-stirring playlist of Tarrence Motley and Company. Add to that Dave Meade’s welcoming atmosphere, an audience of new and old acquaintances assembled, and the literal dryness of being inside and you had the recipe for a thoroughly memorable night! Thank you Paul!
Vision for the future
Here are two ideas that we hope you will find appealing. All of our H4C bases in East Africa, Nagaland, and The Philippines are set up to receive teams of educators, medical providers, and construction/building workers on a short-term basis. USA and European visitors have been instrumental in setting up schools and medical clinics and completing repairs and renovations on existing structures. Tentative dates are in place for 2012 and 2013 travel. If you are interested in taking time off from schooling or profession to join us on one of our project evaluation trips please contact us through our web site www.h4cinternational.org
to begin the application process. One proposal that has surfaced during our Director’s meetings is to assemble a medical team from the Hudson Valley
to go to East Africa, India, or The Philippines? Would you or someone you know be interested?
This concludes the overview section of our E-newsletter. However, before you read on would you consider helping spread the news about the existence of Hope for Change International? Would you forward this to selected family members, colleagues, and friends who may have an interest in charitable giving to a small, 100% transparent foundation committed to bringing HOPE to those longing to CHANGE their villages, nations, and regions. Thank you.
Sarah Anne Smith
James Smith with Eric Mukwenda & Niccanor Urassa at Maranatha Mission School in
Greetings H4C friends:
In 2011 I was able to make two trips to East Africa, one in January/February, and another in June/July. My time was spent primarily in Tanzania but I was able to meet with representatives from other nations in the region to discuss the projects we are working on together.
Presently it is very difficult to discuss any other issue other than water and food when speaking of East Africa. Of course we work in other areas such as medical, educational, homeless children, agriculture and others but all of them pale in comparison to the dire need for water in this region. No water, no life! It’s as simple as that. Obviously the lack of water affects the ability to provide food. No water, no food, no life! Another major impact of the lack of water is that is curtails the amount of electricity which is affecting day-to-day life and the tourism industry. Tanzania’s fragile infrastructure depends upon seasonal revenue from tourism, souvenir shops, and safari goers.
I am giving you the most honest assessment of what life is like for the nationals that we are working with in East Africa. As stark as this report may sound it simply is the way that it is. Please help us in any way that you can in providing the most basic of needs of our dear friends in Africa. I can honestly tell you that even in the midst of their struggles there is a resilience and lack of complaining in them as they push through each day. It is an honor to be there with them and to see the dignity of so many as they wait for change to come.
This press release has been posted on our web site:
WATER CONTINUES TO BE A CRITICAL ISSUE IN EAST AFRICA – Tanzania’s President, Dr. Mrishoo Jakaya Kikwete, recently called together national leaders regarding the state of the nation and people’s issues concerning the drought. Our H4C partners in East Africa were invited to this gathering. The population served by our H4C projects has been greatly affected by the shortage of water and electricity. The dire situation does not show any immediate signs of improvement. Hope for Change International has established a new fund, “Food in the Famine”, to buy corn and beans and assist in providing other intermediate solutions to the crisis. Steady rain and ample agricultural harvests are the permanent solutions. Read more on our MBELE.o rg blog report, “Hakuna Maji, Hakuna Umeme.” We urge you to become part of the cycle of giving and affect HOPE for CHANGE.
Vanessa Grimsland in Arusha, Tanzania during medical outreach
Sarah Smith with students at Nagaland Children Residential School Mokokchung, Nagaland, India
Monsoon season will be coming to an end soon in Northeast India. I spoke with our H4C partner, Moa Jamir, recently and asked him about the amount of rainfall this year. “Oh, too much rain, Sarah!” Moa emphatically responded. Heavy rainfall usually exerts a heavy toll on the health of the population of the Nagaland Children’s Residential School, our H4C supported enterprise in Mokokchung, Nagaland. However, this year the school’s health report card scores an “A”. No sickness occurred among the students living in the hostel. This was music to my ears!
The educational complex boasts two fifteen foot high water reservoirs which “harvest” the rain from the sky. I love this choice of words. Water is viewed as something to be gathered and stored for the inevitable four- month dry season. Last year one of the reservoirs evidenced signs of distress – a fissure with obvious leakage. Not good. Moa gave us an estimate for repair of the crack. We passed along the need to Hope for Change supporters. The money came in, was sent to Mokokchung, and the reservoir was repaired during the school’s recess. Today the repaired reservoir and its twin are nearly full.
The staff and maintenance crew wisely placed mounting of railings on the top of this year’s list of safety measures for the children and teachers. Since the school is located in the Naga Hills which are the foothills of the Himalayas there are flights of steps everywhere. Roofs are flat and are used for activities. To get up there you must use steps and once you are up there you will not find walls. One example of this is the newly completed Nursery Play Park on the open-air level of one of the classroom buildings. Pillars have been erected, bathrooms ready to go, and play equipment situated. Safety railings along roof perimeter added the final touch. Voila! A roof becomes a useful and secure space for children to play.
When I first visited Nagaland Children’s Residential School in October, 2008 the main classroom building consisted of two levels. Today four levels exist and have met requirements of the Indian Building Code. Twice as many rooms are fully utilized for classroom instruction. A second boy’s dormitory has been built. Administrative offices have been renovated. The computer lab has received newer computers.
Current enrollment at the school is 394 children. This is lower than in 2010. I do not know why yet but I will ask Moa and Sentila the next time I call Mokokchung, Nagaland. The students continue to score not only adequately but high on annual proficiency tests. The administration and teachers are dedicated to providing excellent education. The students work diligently. I have been privileged to meet most of them during my project evaluation trips in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
While on last year’s trip to the subcontinent of India I spent fourteen days in Nagaland. For decades the Indian Government has required a “Restricted Area Permit” for tourists coming to Nagaland. Fourteen days was the maximum number of days granted with each initial application. Patty Tiernan, from Kingston, NY, accompanied me and Patty was a terrific travel partner! While there Patty and I took hundreds of photographs. Some of them have been included in my blog articles on www.Mbele.org
and the best of the best have been posted within my Facebook photo albums. The snap below shows Pursen on the left and Asanla on the right. My friend, Tia, has taken them into her heart and home to provide a safe place to live, receive schooling, and inspiration for their future. There have been other children in Tia’s home before Pursen and Asanla.
Pursen and Asania
I’m happy to report that the number of people sponsoring students has grown this year, although there still remains a number of students in the sponsorship program that do not have sponsors. The highlight for me when I travel to the Philippines is the time I am able to spend visiting the students. This year one visit was especially meaningful for me. When I visited Regina Grace, one of our sponsored high school students, I found out that she had gotten ill during her exams and was not able to make the tests. Her teacher was very accommodating and told her she could make it up by doing a project instead. That was good news, except Regina did not have the money to buy the supplies she needed. I made arrangements with one of the staff to take her out to get everything she needed. As we headed out on our shopping trip I could see both excitement and hesitation in Regina. She told me all she really needed was a dictionar y and I didn’t need to get her any supplies. Having traveled to the Philippines for over 20 years, I know Filipinos can be “shy” about expressing their needs and I knew she needed more than just a dictionary. When we got to the mall we discovered this was her first trip to any mall (hard to believe at 15 years old, can you imagine an American 15 year old girl not ever going to a mall?). After finding her dictionary, I told her I knew she needed much more than that and I wanted her to get whatever she needed. She fought back tears when I told her that and at first she was very hesitant, but gradually she expressed her needs and we got everything she needed. During that process I watched a shy, quiet, defeated girl blossom into an excited student who kept thanking me and hugging me through the whole shopping event. I’ll tell you, there is no substitute for that kind of interaction. I was honored to be there to help th is girl as she works to trade her hopelessness into dreams. The first time I met Regina she was hesitant to tell me her plans for the future. Her response was, “it’s unattainable”. You see, Regina had been abandoned by both parents and was living with an aunt in one of the housing unit near the dump site. There are 9 people living in a space that is smaller than some master bedrooms here in the states.
In recent weeks the Philippines has been hit hard by to typhoons. The typhoons caused major damage to the Daycare Center run by our partner in Manila which serves the people of the Smokey Mountain garbage dump community. The cost to repair the building is about $2000 (U.S. Dollars). We hope you would consider helping. Thanks again to all our sponsors, you are truly bringing Hope For Change!
Paul Grimsland with Regina Grace