Thanks to your help, we managed to keep the center open and provide schooling support for the kids. They are all doing great, and are back to school in good conditions.
Thanks to your support we made it through this terrible year. We were so low on budget at some point, that we had to use guava tree leaves (from the garden) to make morning tea ! This hard time also forced us to rationalize our budget and focus on the primary expenses... As an example, now we make our own marmalade !
We launched the website www.saotome-cacae.org in July 2021 and started raising funds since then. We are approaching now a total of 3000 euros, not showing on the webpage, since some donations were directly made by transfer or handed in cash.
This money was used for many purposes such as : center expenses (bills), breakfasts, transportation, lunches, assistant salary, uniforms, school books, notebooks, bags, and also school tuition fees. Not mentioning all kinds of small expenses that we have at the center...
I would like to thank the many people whom I haven´t met in person (not yet visited São Tomé) but who generously supported us.
I would like also to express special thanks to Heiko, for sharing with his German friends, Tina for the tennis rackets (on its way) and remote veterinary support, Camille, who collected funds from her company, and Ivona, from Lisbon Montessori school, who is helping us with the Portuguese translations of the website (soon online), and raising funds and making promotion of our activities through her school (www.lisbonmontessori.org). We are now preparing an official partnership.
Greatest thanks to Ina from Germany who sent two boxes with games, pencils and 100 tennis balls, and also to Hugo from NAI who helped us with the transportation of the goods.
More recently, Richard brought books for children, and within few days, Carolina will bring more books, in order to get the children to read more !
Now, let´s give you some information about the children :
Davi, 15 yo, is doing good in 6th grade, in private school.
Remember that he was out of school two years ago and that we managed to take him out of the streets, coming from a single parent family.
Joelson, 15 yo is doing great, in 5th grade in public school.
He is excellent at canoeing and his coach says he could take part in Olympic games in some time, if he keeps increasing his abilities. After some inquiries, I found out that he still doesn´t read properly (he copies well but does not understand...), so I met with his teacher and we are working on a special plan so he could properly learn how to read.
Robinho, 15 yo is in 7 th grade, in private school.
Doing good, with excellent school grades. He comes once in a while for breakfast, and was very happy to receive brand new soccer shoes and shin guard, so he can better compete with the neighbor's soccer team (he gets his nickname form his soccer abilities).
Elton, 16 yo, stayed back in 8th grade in public school.
Due to covid closing schools last year, he could not get a chance to catch up with the bad grades he got on the first semester. Staying back this year, we are expecting outstanding grades... to enter high school next year. He still works aside from school to help his mother.
Dalton, 15 yo, was eager to join the dynamics and his friends back to school...
but unfortunately he dropped out after a few weeks... too long time away from school, it was very difficult fir him to get back into studying habits.. With his mother we spent time convincing him to start an apprenticeship in mechanics... it started this week and we hope that he will hang on !
Roberto, 13 yo, in 5th grade, in private school.
He took over Dalton´s seat in the private school since January 5th 2021, and he is doing good. Transition from public to private school is not easy, but we are confident that he´ll manage well.
Liedson, Renilson, and Marco, respectively 10, 11 and 12 yo, all in 5th grade come almost everyday for breakfast and go to a public school very near to our Center. They are all doing good (except one with all negative grades !) and we are trying to reinforce our monitoring of their studies, in partnership with the school´s staff and director.
Eric, 17 yo, in 11th grade, his grand father his from Asian origins and he surprisingly speaks some Chinese mandarin.... So we are supporting him with his study fees at the local Confucius Center at the University of São Tomé so he can learn mandarin and hopefully obtain a scholarship.
Friends of the team : Jorge, Adijo, Said, come once in a while to visit us, and we help them with small maintenance fees and spare parts for their bicycles as well as with fishing equipment.
Charles, Derio and Mercias help us whenever possible and whenever they have free time. Since they come from the same neighborhood as the kids, they speak the same language and they help a lot with the house. The children take care of their own laundry, and help with cleaning the vegetable garden while the assistants provide support and monitoring.
We cannot yet have an everyday cooking lady, but whenever possible, we hire the mother of some of the children to help us with the Center, for cleaning and cooking. We have wonderful home made papaya marmalade that we use for breakfast as well as French crepes (pancakes) and cakes with corn wheat, if not caramelized bananas...
We are now hiring Charles on a full time basis as a Logistic director and Assistant Manager !
Center opens at 6 am, kids arrive, put on their uniform and have breakfast. Whenever possible, I give them a ride to school at 7 am.
Back from school at 11:15 am, they do small chores (washing their clothes), and help for the lunch (prepare salad, set up the table..). If no lunch, we try to offer sandwiches before sending them home.
After lunch, they either go to sport (canoeing) or go back in their neighborhood play soccer and hang out with friends, or stay at the center, doing their homework, playing in the garden, or playing computer games.
5:30 pm, when possible we give them a ride home, as sun sets at around 6 pm.
Whenever possible, we take the kids out to the beach on Sundays.
Now we divide the team in two groups : the youngers ones who prefer surfing and pic nic at Seven waves beach (thanks to Bruno and Ligia for lending boards and giving us discounts !) and the elders who prefer to go to the Blue Lagoon or Tamarindos beach for fishing.
They make their own fishing devices, with recycled materials, and are pretty good at it.
In the morning they prepare their food, and then we spend most of the day at the beach.
*Pizza lunch (patronized by restaurant Bigodes).
*Exam preparation Week end in the countryside for the kids
*Pic nic and fishing at Tamarindos beach and Blue Lagoon (countless..)
*Pic nic and surf at 7 waves beach (countless..)
*Collecting fruits at a neighbor's garden to make marmalade
*Cleaning service of the garden to thank the neighbor
*Christmas lunch with the families
We are now starting the "Bicycle workshop" for the children of the team who got good grade last year. These kids behaved well and had good grade in the first trimester so we are now buying second hand bicycles, and preparing a workshop to teach them how to repair and do proper maintenance. They will paint the bikes, and at the end of the activity, Joelson, Robinho, Davi and Renilson will have their own bike.
Some kids preferred to receive another present (mobile phone, portable sound system, clothes !), and some others, who recently joined, will receive their bike at around Easter time, once they have shown greater involvement in their studies.... We believe this will be a good incentive... so we are expecting better grades !
We have helped some families with : rent fees and bills, small donations for Christmas, small donations for birthday cakes, and help one mother to install electricity in her house. Whenever requested, we also take within our own stock of food to provide rice, cooking oil and soap..
The cat has been attacked and is recovering from cheek injury.
The elder female dog had another set of puppies (5 among them 2 died), an we rescued another little dog... now clean of bugs and recovering quickly.
We will improve the web site, upload the Portuguese translations, and try to send a Newsletter more often (monthly seems reasonable).
By summer 2021, all children should have their bicycle. And now with Charles full time at the Center, this should run even more smoothly and we will tighten our relationships with the families and the schools.
We hope for some economic recovery this year, so our budget visibility should improve...
By the way, we found by accident a quite old picture of the team... taken in 2018 ! It is incredible to see how the kids grew.... I feel this picture was taken yesterday... and didn´t realize how much they have changed in between ! See for yourself !
and thanking you again for your warm support, and generosity ! We´ll keep you posted and we´ll be waiting for you visit in São Tomé !