Sunday, February 03, 2013

Education project follow up


Today I spent about six hours (including driving about 40 miles) to try to tie up some loose ends in regard to the educational scholarships.

I still don’t have the final details but I just heard got phone calls from the last two centers I was waiting to hear from. I am pretty close being able to determine how many scholarships will be granted and how much money will be distributed. I will go out to Dulce Nombre tomorrow morning to give the parish secretary the details.

It’s been difficult but I’m glad St. Thomas agreed to help in this, partly because of stories like this:

Sor Nola who runs the program in Dulce Nombre had told me of an 18 year old young man who wants to study in high school. His father has been disabled for a number of years and so income is very limited. The mother too has recently had some health problems.

There are five children in the family, four boys and one girl who is developmentally disabled. The home is without electricity, water, and latrine.

But the family borrowed 400 lempiras (about $20) to pay for part of the tuition and fees.

I had told Sor Nola that this is a case where we could give more than the half-scholarships we are normally giving. They would only have to pay 165 lempira more (about $8.50).

But they had come to bring another 465 lempiras ($23.50) which the son had earned working in the fields.

Sor explained the decision and returned 300 lempiras (about $15). They were grateful and shared that their son was wondering how he would be able to work to pay for uniform, tennis shoes, and some other things – including the bus fare each week.

Talking to the teacher in one community he told me that some other parents had also borrowed money to pay for the school fees. I asked him about the interest rate. Up to 18% - per  month!

And so the funds will help about 88 students this year.

The process has been difficult and time-consuming, but I’m hoping to work with the teachers, the priest, and a few others to have a better process next year.

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