High-School Scholarships Christmas Fundraiser

Scholarship program for students to study at high school and beyond.

Our fund to help youth to study at high-school and beyond is supported by private donations through our annual CHRISTMAS FUNDRAISER and the $25 registration fee that our Spanish students pay.
Each scholarship costs us $350 for the year - to buy uniforms, materials and books and to pay transport costs. In recent years we have also widened the scope of the project to support deserving children in indigenous elementary schools who would otherwise drop out of education, and also to provide training for an indigenous teacher to be able to teach at secondary level in his native language.
We are also now supporting a small privately-run indigenous school on the outskirts of Quito called "Yachay Wasi" where international volunteers are able to offer additional support to children with special needs all year round.
Please consider giving whatever you can afford. One hundred percent of donations goes directly to project costs.

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In 2009 we began a program to sponsor children of Estero de Plátano to attend high school in the nearby town of Tonchigwe. The project came about as a suggestion from women of the community, who commented that it is difficult for the village to develop when there is so little education. Most families cannot afford to send their children on to high school. The principal cost is transport each day, as well as uniforms and materials that they have to buy to be able to attend. So the great majority finish their formal education at around 12-13 years old.

In the first year we held a Christmas fundraiser that raised enough to send 5 children to high school for the year. What we quickly discovered is that the level of primary/elementary education in the village is so lamentably low that when the children started high school they were already at a distinct advantage to their fellow students from better schools. Yanapuma did not have the resources to be able to support these students as well as we would have liked, and at the end of the year two of them dropped out.

We learned from this experience and in the second year we sought to have interns and volunteers present in the community to be able to mentor and tutor the students to keep them on track. We also began to work with interns from Union College in New York, who remained in the community for up to 9 months, greatly improving their grades. We were able to sponsor 6 for the second year through our Christmas fundraiser. At the end of the second year all the students carried on to the following year. In addition, we were able to offer workshops in sexual and reproductive health and rights to these and other students in Estero de Plátano in an effort to change the culture of teenage pregnancies which are the norm there. Once girls get pregnant their education usually ends, and their prospects for deciding their own future diminish significantly.

In 2011 we introduced a $20 registration fee in the Spanish School which was destined for the scholarship program and direct costs. In that year we funded 10 students to attend high school, continuing with the sexual and reproductive health and rights workshops. As in previous years, a stipulation of the scholarship is that the receivers do some form of community service, helping to keep the beach clean, and working on community projects. Once again the Union College interns were a key to keeping the students on track.

In 2012 we were able to fund 12 students from a combination of the registration fee (increased to $25) and the annual Christmas fundraiser. In this year the first of our scholarship recipients graduated high school.

In 2013 we sponsored 13 students, and two more are due to graduate at the end of the school year in January 2014. In addition we are funding a single mother to finish her high school by attending Saturday classes.

In 2014 we sponsored 12 students in Estero de Plátano and 2 in the Tsa'chila community of Bua (supported by Colége Edouard Montpetit of Quebec). Our Union College interns have continued to do an excellent job tutoring and encouraging the youth of Estero de Plátano to continue their studies. This year 5 of them will graduate, and we have been working to see how we can help them to get into university and fund their studies. Meanwhile in Bua, one of the teachers in the local school, Daniel Aguavíl, has been helping the first 2 scholarship students there to cope with studying in nearby Santo Domingo.

As 2014 drew to a close we were a little worried that we would not be able to continue funding 14 scholarships in 2015 due to the fact that there have been fewer students in our Spanish school that year to contribute with their $25 registration fee. As 5 students were due to graduate in May of 2015 we felt it was a good opportunity to scale back a little. In the end we were able to support 8 students through 2015 and the start of 2016. However, due to the global economic situation in general, Union College was not able to provide the same level of support to the two interns supporting the scholarship recipients and Yanapuma contributed $4000 to keeping them in the community for the year. We are currently seeking ways to cover the costs of having two interns from Union there in 2016 as their help is pivotal.

In 2015 and 2016 the funds we received from Spanish registrations continued to decline so that we could not replace all the students who had graduated in those years. In 2016 we supported 8 students in Estero de Plátano, along with 2 in Bua which were funded by the Colége Edouard Montpetit of Canada. They graduated in the spring of 2017 and we are supporting them through post-high school courses in nearby Santo Domingo in agriculture and information technology so that they will be able to contribute their knowledge to the development of their community.

In 2017/18 we have continued sponsoring deserving high school youth from the communities of Estero de Plátano and Bua, younger students at Yachay Wasi elementary school, youth from Bua to study at post-high school level, and a Tsa'chila teacher from Bua to obtain his teaching diploma for secondary school. The scholarship program will be a major focus of the work of the foundation in 2019, subject to the level of funding available. We were pleased to receive a donation of $5,000 in early 2018 that has provided greater security for the program in light of the difficulty we have had in receiving registration fees from the declining number of students. It will also allow us to cautiously expand the program, always conscious of the responsibility to get good results for the funds disbursed. Interestingly this year, we expected to offer two additional scholarships for youth in the Tsa'chila comuna Bua, but the leaders of the cultural center Shinopi Bolón who are charged with choosing the youth, let us know that they could not really identify strong enough candidates this year! While it is good to know that they are being diligent in their task, we hope they are not being too strict!

There is a strong demand for us to provide more scholarships, and although the numbers attending our Spanish schools has declined with the general decline in tourism in Ecuador this year, we are confident that we will be able to continue to support the students in the communities that we are involved with. We are also grateful to receive continued support from Sotogrande International School in Spain and Colége Edouard Montpetit of Canada to maintain our scholarship program.

If you would like to make a donation of whatever amount to this ongoing project, please click on the link above or below. One hundred percent of donations received go directly to funding the scholarships!

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