Greetings to all our friends and supporters!  Our first Newsletter offered a general overview of our work. In this Newsletter, we focus on education and the immense difference it can make in under-privileged young lives and in their rural communities.
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Changing the World
In July, Foundation President Steven Bloomstein attended a small graduation ceremony at the rural high school where we have seven students in the graduating class. This class was born into large illiterate families where most youngsters did not even make it to the sixth grade in the community’s one room mud school hut. These harsh realities have changed for the better, there has been progress, and we are proud of our Foundation’s significant role in this!

One Student at a Time

 These students are crossing a creek that is still an hour’s walk from the road, on their way to high school in the morning.  Each of them faces as much as a two-hour walk down valley trails every morning, fording the river several times, waiting for tardy public transportation to the rural high schools that are miles down the road, and retracing the same route home by flashlight in the evening, often in rainy weather. To match their gumption, we created our high school scholarship fund.
October 2011

Poverty and Illiteracy: When we first came to this remote rural valley in 1977, most young women were illiterate and began giving birth at the age of 14 or 15, bearing a new child every other year or so. Maternal and infant mortality were a significant fact of life, and a surviving mother often had six or more children by the time she was in her thirties, with several miscarriages and infant deaths along the way.

Family Planning: After getting to know us, the very first thing that mothers asked us for was help in controlling their fertility. We worked to make
 birth control available to all women of reproductive age, and most women jumped at this opportunity. (The valley norm is now 2-3 children per family, rather then the 6-8 when we first arrived. Fewer teenage girls become pregnant, choosing instead to study.) Within just a few years, without the next new child on their hands, parents turned to educating their existing children, once again asking directly for our help.
Education: Our first project was to rescue the valley's neglected primary school-hut and organize the community to petition the local government for improved facilities. Over time, with persistence, the state responded with a cement block school-house and more teachers. Since there was no electricity in the valley, we put solar panels on the schoolhouse, and built an additional classroom which also serves as the cafeteria for the government’s nascent lunch program. Volunteers from the United States taught students and directed teacher training workshops. Our "Centros Escolares" offered school supplies, transportation tickets, shoes, and uniforms at subsidized accessible prices. For pre-schoolers, we established the only kindergarten in this extended rural area.

More students began graduating from the sixth grade schoolhouse and professing an interest in high school. Many of you now support our high school scholarship fund which grew from six students in the year 2003 to almost 50 students now. Our rural community center supports these young scholars with the only school library and Internet computers in the area.
College bound!!!  Last year, our first high school graduates succeeded in getting into community colleges in the nearby city of Cumaná, and several even made it into the State University. Now more students - especially the young women - want to attend one of the local community colleges where inscription is fairly open and low-cost, but there is little financial assistance available for even their modest needs. We want to support them in this brave new venture as well.
Jump-start: In Venezuela, as in much of the developing world, rural children usually study only a few primary school years before their education grinds to a halt. Poor rural families often migrate to marginal urban barrios where, with hard work and luck, their children might become literate and even have a chance to go to college. We propose bypassing this process that is motivating so many families to leave the countryside. We want to create a novel and exceptional generation of rural college students, with all the progress that could then leapfrog to their families and their still productive rural communities.
Boot-strap: This is our Recipe for a Thriving Community in action, investing in people first. Successful students are admired in the community, and mentor others along the same path. The children that we first supported 20 years ago with basic literacy tutoring have now become the community’s first generation of primary school teachers. They are strong role models, returning the gift of education to the coming generations. A poor rural environment is boot strapping itself up with its own human resources.
Please Help Us:  We are looking for additional funding for this lovely new project that is the logical outgrowth of all of our work to date. It’s not a lot of money — we figure about $750 per starting college student per year.  Please “adopt” one of our students with any contribution you can — we can supply info and photos !!! 
Comments, thoughts, advice?  Email us, we’d love to hear from you! 
Want to help? With your help, we can do so much more.
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"When we are dreaming alone, it is only a dream.
When we are dreaming with others,
it is the beginning of reality."

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