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April, 2000

Newsletter #07

They say one of a child's greatest dreams is to know his or her guardian angel. After God, it is she to whom children pray for protection. In Peru 250 children share an angel in common who watches over them every day, cares for them, protects and feeds them. This angel is called Anita Goulden. (Quote.)

This quotation aptly describes Anita Goulden whom you have been supporting so generously for many years. For 4 decades she has given hope and life to hundreds of children abandoned or struck down with some terrible affliction. She is nearly 81 and continues to run La Sendita. Richard and Sallie Morgan visited her last year and Sallee wrote the following piece for their church magazine: "We met a living saint in Peru - the kind the light shines through gently and steadily, bathing those around in a blessed glow. And she was English! …from Lancashire! Her slightly stilted speech after years of speaking Spanish still betrayed the faintest accent as she said to us: 'You are as welcome as the flowers in May'. I was deeply moved when I finally came face to face with her in one of her 2 homes for the handicapped and abandoned children of the desperately poor, for I already knew something of her huge, lone effort out there to bring comfort to the suffering. It is a rare and humbling privilege to meet a woman who gave up everything to stay in a distant, unknown land and care for the children no-one wanted. She had no knowledge of Spanish, either, at the time. She has returned only once to England in search of medicines unobtainable in Peru. Her devotion to her self-appointed cause has overridden any obstacles - each one overwhelming in its own way.

Anita's unwavering faith in God's capacity to answer her desperate prayers for food, clothing or housing when there was none left for the children, has succeeded in providing permanent care for the most sorely afflicted and has established a good education for 250 of the poorest children from the shanties. Anita's life seems to me to be a living witness of God's readiness to supply what is necessary in response to the prayers of the faithful. We learned of many astonishing facts, miracles one might even say, as we sat and talked with her for several hours in the yard outside. Children who were mobile went by on their way to school, greeting her with a loving kiss and us with polite handshakes. Very sick or traumatised little ones called out from time to time from their beds, and it seemed were comforted just by the sound of her voice as she answered them. Anita's Peruvian assistant said of her, 'She has a direct line to God' and 'Thank God for the British'. Anita herself merely said, 'Thank God there is a God'. When we asked what she most needed for the children, she replied each time, 'Your prayers'. Will you, who read this, please remember in your prayers Anita and her work for the stricken children in Piura, - and for the child who was abandoned to the pigs; the beautiful girl who broke her back and is paralysed for want of care; for Pablo, terribly abused by his step father, a witch doctor; and for all the others whose mental and physical handicaps would have condemned them to the status of outcaste, if not death, were it not for Anita Goulden."

The Blossoming of Artistic Talent

At least 3 of Anita's children are blossoming into exceptional artists. Hugo, who you will remember lost both his legs in an accident, originally said he couldn't even draw a straight line. Now he paints wonderful pictures and does a little sculpture as well. Rosemary, 19, who is paralysed from the waist down and lies on her tummy all day, paints from her bed and several of her paintings have been exhibited in local exhibitions. Everyone who sees her paintings are very impressed. Pedro Paulo, who has had his legs in plaster casts for many years, also has great talent. The photograph shows, top right, a self portrait by Pedro Paulo The others are a selection of paintings by Hugo and Rosemary.

Roger Brown's Visit to Piura

Roger Brown is our newest Trustee. He is the Assistant Director of Leonard Cheshire International and for over 30 years he served in the British Diplomatic Service spending several years in South America. He writes: "Recently, at the end of a visit to 5 Latin American countries on behalf of Leonard Cheshire International, I was fortunate enough to be able to go on for a final couple of days to Peru, and there to visit La Sendita. The first and most important thing to report is that everyone in Piura - the children, and Anita and her devoted staff - is well, and that the home is still the same safe, caring and well-ordered refuge for disabled and abandoned children as before, while the school continues to provide excellent free education for about 200 poor children from the town who would not otherwise have such an opportunity.

New Arrivals, Excitement, Departures

Since my last visit 18 months ago, 3 new children have arrived at the home, making a total of 26 living there, while another 25, mainly older boys, live at the school. The newcomers are Jose Luis, who is 4, Diana, 6, and Miller, 9. All have settled in happily, and make a great contribution to the life and liveliness of the home. One of the older boys, Hugo, who lost both legs in a road accident, is now back from Lima, where he was fitted with prosthetic legs. He is happy and active and is thoroughly enjoying his painting and his new found mobility. Another newcomer, of a rather different sort, is 'Pelarita', the 'Xoloiztcuintle', or Mexican hairless dog. She may be the ugliest resident of La Sendita, but her disposition is sweet and she has, according to the Peruvian Indians, a most unusual quality: it is said locally that this type of dog has the ability to take away or alleviate certain medical conditions. And it seems to work. Anita told me that one of the children, who plays with Pelarita a lot, has not had an asthma attack since the dog arrived. Those departing were a gigantic swarm of bees which had been in residence under the eaves of the wall which divides La Sendita from the naval headquarters next door. They had to be persuaded to leave with smoke, as they had stung several people and were becoming a danger to the children. They will not be missed, but they did leave behind several kilos of delicious honey!

The Future

A shadow on the horizon is the possible consequence of a recent decision by the Peruvian Ministry of Education to award all secondary school teachers 1 day off in every working week. This means that schools must take on more teachers to cover the absences, and La Sendita has been told that it will have to employ an additional 4 staff. There is some hope that this number, or at least the number paid for by La Sendita, can be reduced to 2, but it looks as though increased costs are inevitable. And there are other, more immediate needs. Practical things like a washing machine, clothes and bed sheets. Then there are less practical but still important things such as outings and other treats for the children - who at least now have, thanks to an ingenious scheme devised by Pali, the school director, an occasional paddling pool in a yard which can be flooded when needed. In the longer term there is much still to do. This year saw the first class to graduate from the fifth and final year of secondary school. Three of these students are keen to go on to higher education. One wants to study nursing, another engineering, the third general maintenance. They have asked Anita for help, but present funds will not stretch to this. Nor to computers or a science laboratory.

A Message

While I was there Anita - who is, by the way, now the holder of 2 British, 1 American, and 8 Peruvian awards for a lifetime's service to the children of Piura - asked me to say how sorry she is that her work, and the fact that she is not always feeling well, mean that she cannot write to her supporters at present, or contribute an article of her own to the newsletter, but she asked me to pass on the following message to all friends of La Sendita: 'I should like to thank all well-wishers most sincerely for their greetings and for their support. Without doubt you and your prayers enable us to carry on at La Sendita. Thank you again for all your help.' Many thanks to all of you who sent clothes, blankets, toys etc. to Anita. The container finally left at the end of last year and it has safely arrived.

The Chairman Writes

"Thanks to the tremendous generosity of the support of the Anita Goulden Trust, incredible work continues with the young children at La Sendita and the home. Fortunately the Trust has an investment portfolio which has been used, in the past, as a source of funds for capital projects such as the new house. However, the investment income from the portfolio only covers 1 month's expenditure and so the Trust is entirely dependent on the donations, covenants, CAF cheques and Gift Aid forms that are received. At the moment, to maintain the existing programmes, the trust is running a deficit between income and expenditure of approximately £60,000 a year which is funded by selling investments. Unfortunately, we can only continue to do this for the next few years before the investment portfolio disappears. I am asking, therefore, whether after reading this newsletter you will be able to both continue your support and, if at all possible, increase it. When I first met Anita in 1986 she was looking after a few children in one room in Piura. Now, with your support her work has extended and is producing extraordinary results. Anything that you can give to the furtherance of her work will be most gratefully received." Last June, Anita had a marvellous birthday and was so grateful to all of you who sent her cards.

New Ways of Donating

The Government have brought in new measures for giving to charity. From 6 April 2000 they will abolish the £250 minimum limit for Gift Aid donations, so that the scheme will apply to all donations, whether large or small, regular or one-off. The Trust will be able, therefore, to claim tax back on any donations provided the donor is a tax payer. All you need do is to fill in a Gift Aid Declaration and send it to the Administrator. Some of you have deeds which are due to expire shortly and the Administrator will write to you to ask that, instead of renewing the Covenant, you may wish to continue your current payments under the Gift Aid scheme. An explanation is on the enclosed card. It all sounds very complicated but I don't think it is really. But if any of you have any queries do, please, talk to the Administrator about it. And please do not let the new measures put you off donating! They will help the charity.