Mark and Michael met with Julio to find out how things are going. As always multiple projects are underway. The most dramatic and exciting is the new vocational classrooms under construction: a large kitchen, a sewing room, and a workshop for metalworking and repairs. Julio obtained backing from a Canadian non-profit to help fund the expansion. All of the school's families helped carry dirt and concrete blocks to build the large and inviting rooms. And, after the hard work was done, the mothers made a delicious feast for everyone to enjoy. In another endeavor the local Rotarians provided 27 computers for the school, and are adding five more. Julio continues to receive visits from a Spanish group, Corazon de Enfermia, who send doctors and nurses to check on the health of the children. Moreover, in the last year the Association also built 50 more houses, to bring the total number to 150.
Financially Julio has diversified his sources of funds. He has 65 local child sponsors and wants to add another 50 this year. His Board of Directors provides support both in terms of funds as well as other goods including fruits and eggs (used in the preparation of school lunches), shoes, and clothing. But this is the last year of support from two Dutch charities. The challenge will be to find a replacement. Teacher salaries have increased, and now include a bonus to bring them closer to the public school teacher level. And all of the teachers attend university on the weekends.
The school remains a tremendously warm and caring environment. It's obvious the teachers care a great deal about each individual. And, the children expressing continued delight to be there.