Archive for the ‘Latest News’ Category
Some of you may have seen BBC Two’s programme on Colombia which was shown on Easter Sunday. In it Simon Reeve visited the country to try and assess what the chances were for peace now, and one of the places he visited was Medellín, where our work is based. As the programme showed, a lot of good things have been happening in the city and for many people life has improved significantly. It was good to see a more positive view of Colombia. However, our children in Medellín continue to experience a rather different reality, which unfortunately wasn’t touched on in the programme. They come from the many shanty-towns that cover the mountain sides around the city centre and for them life is still violent and often dangerous. A high proportion of the shanty-towns are controlled by a banda (a powerful gang) and it is all too easy to fall foul of the banda and find oneself in immense trouble and danger. The children with whom we work are very vulnerable and disadvantaged and whilst we hope that one day they will enjoy the benefits of the city’s progress shown in the programme, at the moment they need our help if they are to stay alive and have the chance of life, life in all it’s fulness.
The landslide that claimed the lives of hundreds of people, many of them children, in Mocoa, which lies a good way south of Medellín, also left people homeless and some children without parents. The Archbishop of Medellín has sent round an emergency letter asking all churches and organisations within the Archdiocese to send what they could afford to a special Account set up by Caritas and Fr Peter authorised the sending of 3,500,000 pesos, the equivalent of £1,000, from the charity.
Fifteen year old Breiner was a former altar-boy, and his friends among the staff and children at Casa Walsingham were greatly shocked and saddened when they heard, last week, that he had been murdered. Fr Peter received donations last weekend to pay for his funeral expenses, and a Requiem for Brainer was celebrated yesterday (Thursday 9th) at Casa Walsingham. Although it is true that there has been a reduction in murders in recent years, such killings still occur and they show the risk to which Funvini’s youngsters continue to be exposed. Just in the last week, Fr Peter and his team have dealt with two cases in which Funvini has had to persuade the authorities to take emergency measures to take teenage boys into care to protect them from the the gangs; and in one of these cases the whole family of the boy concerned has had to flee, and Funvini is currently providing temporary accommodation for his 10-year-old brother.
For some time now we have been advising our supporters who give by Standing Order or Direct Debit that as from January 2017 the charity’s Bank Account details would be changing and that they would therefore need to give our new details to their banks. Whilst most supporters have done this, there are still approx. 72 who have not and for some of these supporters we have no contact details as they set up their Standing Orders and Direct Debits themselves. So, this is the only way we have of trying to reach them. If you still have payments going into our old account please contact your bank and give them our new account details as soon as possible.
New Account Details
Barclays Bank-Worcester Branch
Account name: Let The Children Live!
Account No: 13514919
Sort Code: 209861
Many thanks for your support.
Every year George McAleenan undertakes a Sponsored Walk for the charity, to raise money for Christmas activities and presents. (Buying for 450 children is not easy!) This year, he has surpassed himself, raising £19,600 by the time this article was written on November 20th!!! This is what he himself says:
“My annual sponsored walk was completed on Sunday 23rd October, and the amount raised was £18,100.00.This was the most sponsorship money raised on all of the walks.I was accompanied this year by Aileen McNally and Frances Kennedy, two women who are very keen to support the charity and do some fundraising.They had a Justgiving page.It was good to have someone to talk to while walking for a change.The money will be used to buy plenty of christmas presents for Fr Peter’s children and to pay for some christmas parties; in other words, to bring a little bit of christmas into the lives of the children. Some of the money will also be used to pay for some of the roof repairs to our residential home which was damaged by a colony of tropical termites.”
Aileen and Frances also posted information on the public site of their Facebook pages and they think that this may have helped to achieve the wonderful total.
A huge WELL DONE! and THANK YOU! to all three of you!
Do you live in Doncaster? Are you looking for a part-time job with the possibility of more responsibility in the future? Are you computer literate? Then read on:
Office Assistant Wanted
The charity Let The Children Live! which works with children from the streets and shanty-towns of Medellín, Colombia, is looking for a suitable person to join its Administrative Team in Balby, Doncaster, as a part-time Office Assistant. Applicants must be computer literate and a working knowledge of Apple Macs would be useful, but is not essential as training can be given. A basic knowledge of Accountancy would also be an asset. The job is, initially, for 8 hours a week, spread over two afternoons of 4 hours each. A sympathetic approach towards the nature of the charity’s work would be an advantage and there will be ample opportunity to learn more about it.
We are looking to train up an Office Assistant with a view to them taking on more responsibility and more hours in the future, so the successful applicant will need to be able to make a long-term committment to the job.
The closing date for applications is October 31st. and interviews will be held in Doncaster.
Contact number for queries or more information: 01302 858369
Please apply in writing, enclosing your CV, to:
Let The Children Live!
PO Box 11
1. Parishes and schools where we can give talks and make Appeals during 2017. Can you help? Would you approach your Parish Priest or RE teacher? Ring 01302 858369 if you can help.
2. Money to help us run and develop our School Project. Could you raise some for us? Hold a Coffee Morning; have a Tea Party?
3. Publicity—tell others about us.
4. Prayers—remember us in your prayers.
2nd October, 2016
27th August, 2016
Between Friday August 26th and Sunday 28th the children and staff of Funvini are celebrating the Forty Hours Devotion in the chapel at Casa Walsingham. The Intention is to ask for God’s blessing on our School Project and all our children will have the opportunity to spend some time in the chapel. A group of 50 girls are having a ‘sleepover’ at Casa Walsingham on the Friday night—-a great favourite with them! In small groups they will spend two 15 minute periods keeping watch before the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by one of our staff. On Saturday night, 50 boys will be doing the same thing. Throughout Saturday children will come to Casa Walsingham to take part in the devotion and to enjoy the activities that will be provided for them.The devotion will end with Mass at 8am on Sunday morning followed by a Procession through the streets, during which the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament will be carried by four of our boys from the street.
Funvini ( the charity’s name in Colombia ) is currently helping about 550 children through its various programmes. This population includes children who live in the street; children who do various kinds of work – begging, selling sweets, cleaning car windscreens, juggling, prostitution, etc. – in the street; children who are at social risk of abuse or of becoming street-children; children with learning and/or behaviour problems; adolescent mothers and their babies; and the children of Cor Videns, Funvini’s choir.
However, the situation in Medellín is changing, and Funvini must adapt to meet the changing needs of its children. Although the murder rate in the city has dropped dramatically, the crime rate has not: it is simply that the main gangs have established an uneasy truce, and instead of causing mayhem with their fights for territory, they are now devoting their energies to more lucrative activities, such as extortion, prostitution and drugs. Many fewer children are now to be found sleeping on the pavement in the city-centre, because those whom the authorities find there are whisked away to a protective custody in special secure unit in the city’s mental hospital. But the social pressures of poverty and family violence which have, in the past, forced children onto the streets, remain unrelieved. But now, instead of taking to the streets in the city centre, the children who are subjected to these pressures are more likely to turn to the gangs as a substitute family. Other girls and boys resort to prostitution. A Channel Four News report on Medellín in 2014 called the city “the world’s biggest brothel”; and the increase in tourism has been accompanied by an increase in sex-tourism and child-prostitution. To combat this, Funvini’s financial and social-work support for its children’s families make it possible for most of them to stay at home; and its psychological and educational support helps to keep them in school. The charity is therefore playing a vital role in keeping these children safe and happy, and in helping them to build a decent future for themselves.
Funvini’s work is highly regarded by other organisations in Medellín, and for some time the city’s educational authorities have been putting great pressure on us to open our own school. They know that we consider Funvini to be an organisation of last resort, and that we will work with youngsters with whom the ordinary schools cannot cope, or who would not be able to cope with the ordinary schools without the extra support they receive from Funvini. For example, when the Head Teacher of one local school visited us the other month she was surprised – and grateful – to find no fewer than 11 of her most difficult pupils busy doing their homework at Casa Walsingham with the help of our teachers and the benefit of our computers. The authorities therefore want Funvini to use all the experience it has gained over the last 21 years of caring for such children to open a small school for them at Casa Walsingham, with specialist teachers, very small classes, flexible hours, and innovative and highly-personalised teaching methods. The idea would be to build on what Funvini is already doing, and to use its existing staff, but to keep the children at Casa Walsingham for most of the day instead of sending them off to separate schools in other parts of the city. Funvini would use all of its other cultural and recreational activities, and its social-work, psychological, catechetical, health and nutritional support to encourage the children to keep attending the school. And at the end of the year, it would be able to award them with grade certificates in its own name.
The classes would be provided for a total of up to 50 children in the course of the day in a couple of the class-rooms at Casa Walsingham; and in the meanwhile all of Funvini’s other activities with street-children, working children and adolescent mothers would carry on around them. So the school would only be an extension, intensification and formalisation of the charity’s existing educational work, but not a replacement for its other activities. Inevitably, the project will require some additional staff, and generate some extra costs. Unfortunately, the city authorities are not offering Funvini any help with these, so the extra burden will fall on Let The Children Live!, provided that its supporters in Britain are able and willing to meet this challenge.
As has already been mentioned, the resources of Let The Children Live! are already over-stretched, so additional funds will have to be raised by means of a special appeal in the charity’s newsletter, Vivant! Very few of the charity’s supporters have given it their e-mail addresses, so the only way to communicate with most of them is by sending them a printed copy of Vivant through the post. The cost of postage has increased so much that the charity can only make such an investment periodically. The last one was published in 2012, and whereas some charities have been criticised for constantly badgering their donors for more money, the supporters of Let The Children Live! are more likely to complain that they don’t hear from the charity often enough. All being well, a new issue will be sent out some time in 2016. This will be used as the vehicle for the special appeal, and it will also serve as means of seeking sponsorship for the projected concert-tour by Cor Videns, Funvini’s choir, and to publicise their new CD which was released last Christmas.
Because Cor Videns is a children’s choir, its membership is constantly changing as the choristers grow up. This means that new recruits have to start their training every year, and in order for the choir as a whole to continue to develop and attain higher standards, more time for more training will be required. In order to gain more experience – and to earn more funds for Funvini – the choir also needs extra time to put on more concerts. By the time the children come to sing at Casa Bannatyne on week days, they are already fairly tired after spending the first part of the day at school, and they still have homework to do. Without the risk of overloading them, there is therefore no extra time for them to have extra musical classes on these days. On Saturday morning Funvini provides football classes for the choristers who want them, and other recreational activities for the rest. And Saturday afternoons are already taken up with choir practice. The children – and their voices and teachers – need a break on one day a week, so the choir has Sunday off. So where is the time for the extra classes to come from?
The answer would be to include the choir as a separate section within Funvini’s new school project. Despite their higher academic and musical ability, many of the children in the choir present the same behavioural problems, and suffer from the same situations of family break-down, and face the same social dangers, as the children at Casa Walsingham. They also would benefit from being able to attend a school of their own, with flexible hours, small classes, specialist teachers, and tailor-made curriculum, in which their musical training would count towards their progression through Colombia’s grade system.
This is our plan for the future and to put it into practice in its entirety it is going to mean either buying a piece of land and building from scratch, or finding the right new building and buying and adapting it. At present we have some of the money that we will need, but we will need to raise much more and so we are launching “The School Project” in order to raise the necessary funds. However, because the needs of the children are great we have decided to start up our school in a small way this month-July 2016. We will use 2 classrooms in Casa Walsingham and our first pupils will be some of the most vulnerable and damaged children in Medellín. We have taken on a new teacher who is specially trained and gifted in teaching these children and she has already begun preliminary work with some of them. Other members of our staff will also be involved and we have been assigned one of the state schools as an ‘umbrella’ school that will validate the children’s work so that they will receive the state credits that will count towards their grades.
The hope for the not-too-distant future is that we will be able to raise enough money to create a whole new complex containing a school and living accommodation. In the school will be a chapel with a shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. We will encourage people to come on pilgrimage and donate to support our work and we will have a gift-shop and cafe where we can both raise money to maintain our work and provide work for our older children. This is the vision towards which we are working, beginning in a small way with the opening of our school this month.
So, this is where we are at the moment and what we plan for the future. Many of our former children are now professionals. One is a doctor who is now training to be a Renal Consultant and another has just completed the first year of a 5-year university course to become a Musical Director. He spent 6 months in the UK last year as a guest of the choir of Worcester Cathedral. We hope he will be able to come on a visit next year, and when funds permit, we hope to bring the choir over on a Concert Tour.
Let The Children Live! PO Box 11, Walsingham, Norfolk. NR22 6EH. Tel: 01302 858369
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.letthechildrenlive.org