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August, 2002

Newsletter #10

Message From the Chairman

As you can well imagine, over the last few months the children, the young people and those who work at La Sendita, have been adjusting to major change due to the death of Anita in February. We may be sure that both home and school remain imbued with the love and dedication, wisdom and humour, of Anita Goulden, its founder and guiding hand for so many years. But of course the constant care and attention which she gave to every aspect of life at La Sendita were unique to her, and it cannot be easy for Ruth Fernandez - 'Pali' - and her colleagues and charges to adjust, though we may also be confident that they are meeting and surmounting this challenge. The trustees are doing their best to help ensure that the inevitable changes will keep La Sendita strong, and that the future will be as successful as the past. First, Leonard Cheshire International, perhaps the UK's most experienced international disability organisation, will look at how it might be able to help La Sendita adjust to the new circumstances. Secondly, every encouragement is being given to Pali to look for additional support in Piura itself, and the trustees will also do their best to encourage help from elsewhere in Peru, such as Lima.

Support in Piura should include a revived and reorganised management committee, providing some of the guidance formerly given by Anita, and mobilising support in the town. It might also look, for example, at ways in which some income might be earned locally (and speaking of earnings, Annabel Buchan has some interesting news about the La Sendita Christmas card on page [x] of this newsletter). Also, we must maintain and if possible increase the momentum of our fundraising efforts here in the UK. To this end we hope to have before long a new video which will feature life at La Sendita both with Anita there, and subsequently. A trustee, Yolanda Williams, is currently in Peru, and hopes to be able to visit La Sendita during her stay in the country. Other trustees also hope to visit before long, to offer the support and encouragement needed at this time of transition. These are our hopes. For the present La Sendita depends, as always, almost entirely on the generosity of those in Britain who have supported it over the years, have made the essential contribution to its continuation, and in this way to the transformation of so many young lives. Thank you for this support. Please continue to help us if you can.

The Visit to Piura by Sallie and Dick Morgan

Sallie and Dick Morgan were in Piura before and after Anita's death and so were on hand to give help and support. Sallie wrote the following moving account of the funeral and this is followed by a description of the weeks the Morgans spent with the children.The funeral: Anita died in the intensive care unit 5 weeks after admission at 1.50 am on February 1st 2002. We were privileged to be allowed to visit twice daily during the fortnight we were there and finally to be present with Pali and some members of her family, plus doctors and nurses who had expressed their utmost admiration for what Anita achieved during her long life of service. It was our private joy that during those earlier visits we were able to communicate with Anita through gestures, words and smiles. She welcomed our arrival warmly, her clear blue eyes expressing delight, excitement, approval and at times a note of warning. Our role during the final days was to be, so it seemed, the sole representatives of her compatriots. On the morning of February 1st at 9 am we returned to Anita's home and found the silver grey coffin, embellished with platelets in relief of the Last Supper, already in place in the raised area normally reserved for eating. At the head hung a rich silver curtain and 4 tall lamps stood at the corners.

Chairs had been set out around the walls of the spacious area which forms the remainder of the ground floor as well as outside along the shady wall. During the next 2 days many friends and recipients of Anita's goodness arrived with final tributes, to greet members of the household and to stand a few moments at Anita's head, exposed under glass beneath the open half-lid of the coffin. The children sat in sober groups, talking quietly, their faces expressing deep sadness. Hector, physically very handicapped and also deaf, was inconsolable at times. As the flowers arrived, they were carefully placed around the coffin; huge garlands standing on tall tripods soon concealed the walls. Anita's favourite colour was yellow so many arrangements included yellow chrysanthemums. Our tribute, for which we chose white lilies in the flower market, was turned within the hour into a lovely arrangement including white carnations. In the mid afternoon of the following day, Saturday, February 2nd, the funeral procession began to form. Boys from the school lined up 2 abreast carrying the tall circular arrangements like banners, and were joined by the girls bearing smaller tributes. After some little wait in the heat of the sun, Pali's husband and sons appeared carrying the coffin shoulder high, shrouded in the pink flag of La Sendita with its full title and devices, bearing on the one side Santa Teresita and on the other the silhouette of a boy on crutches.

Rosemary, Hector and Carlos Paul headed the procession in wheelchairs, carrying large bouquets of flowers. A long walk into town down Av. Grau, across the Ovalo and on to the Iglesia San Sebastian ensued, with many people joining the procession as it went. A Requiem Mass for Anita began after the coffin's triumphant entry into the church to prolonged applause. This again rang out at the end of the mass which was well attended despite late alterations to arrangements and the coinciding holiday season which had sent many families off to the seaside to avoid the worst of Piura's high temperatures. Children of La Sendita stood patiently throughout on either side of the coffin, holding the tall wreaths they had carried through the town. The others sat forlornly in front pews listening to a lone priest's quiet eulogy for this devout Catholic woman whose last 45 years have been spent in sacrificial devotion to the forgotten of Peru. Not only did she teach the children, for whom she provided a real home, high moral standards and respect for Christian teaching, she also founded the school to ensure a good education for them, as well as many able-bodied day pupils from the teeming shanty towns round the city. The solemn and restrained mass was followed by a grave-side ceremony, altogether different in tone, which began to prolonged applause as the hearse entered the gates of the Cemeterio Metropolitano.

Among the crowd, numbering 500 or so, were parents and children from the poorest areas, former pupils, their relatives and families, who had in some way benefited from Anita's care. Many of them were pleased to tell how much they owed her - education, health, care, money for essential operations, rescue from utter destitution. Pedro Pablo's sister and mother spent 10 hours travelling down from the high Sierra to pay their respects. With tears in their eyes and trembling voices they told of all she had done to rehabilitate Pedro Pablo and of the operation which will soon take place to lengthen his right leg. Again and again people spoke of her goodness, saintliness, of her complete devotaion to helping the very poor. Here in Peru the very poor still die for lack of money to pay for medicines. Anita's first task, self-imposed 43 years ago, was to amass medicines with her own money and distribute them from the top of a lorry through the villages in the Sierra where the need was desperate. Very slowly the coffin, surrounded by the crowd pressing in on all sides, made its way towards the grave, stopping from time to time to allow flowers to be carried forward.

The children from La Sendita were scattered amongst the people, weeping and gazing unseeingly toward the coffin. Suddenly one of the teachers from the school arose out of the crowd and delivered an impassioned oration, extempore. He spoke for all in recalling what Anita meant to them, the poor of Peru; "Her spirit lives on; she has not died; she is with us still; our mother," he cried, and the crowd roared its approval "Anita", "Ana". Anita allied herself with the destitute of a distant country. She sold all her possessions and gave to the poor; they in return demonstrated an immense outpouring of love and carried her themselves most tenderly to her rest.

The Morgan's Visit

We arrived in Piura in mid-January this year, just after the start of the 3-month long school holidays and just 2 weeks before Anita died. Thus our visit divided into 2 parts: before and after La Sendita suffered the loss of its founder and leader. Between the twice daily visits to the intensive care unit of the local hospital, during which it was often possible to communicate significantly with Anita and also learn of her doctors'; immense admiration for all that she had achieved in Piura, we fitted in various short trips for shopping for the benefit of the children. Generous donations from local supporters in Herefordshire of Anita's work enabled us to purchase sheets, towels, shoes for the girls and various items for leisure activities. Temperatures of 40° were difficult to adjust to after an English winter so afternoons required a siesta at the start of the visit. Early on we took a poignant trip with Josue during his present remission from leukaemia. His nurse and some of his friends accompanied us to visit his parents he had not seen for 6 years. In contrast to that visit, there was a jolly ride with a group of physically and mentally disable young people. Carlos-Paul, Chavela, Virginia, Carla and Hector all exuded the greatest possible delight as we trundled round the sights of Piura in the 15 year old minibus, a gift from the Variety Club of Great Britain.

We would have liked to push out Hector and Carlos Paul in wheelchairs for a walk but this was vetoed as being unsafe. Much of the time following Anita's death was spent at her house, La Sendita, with the children and young people who live there, talking and playing games. Once, Hugo took up his guitar and gave us a concert of his own compositions several of which are moving tributes to Anita. On other occasions, Dick engaged boys and girls in the games of chess we had purchased and he found that Jaime, who suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot speak, is the school champion - a very skilled player. When Hector played draughts with me Sebastian hovered nearby and quietly moved the pieces Hector could not pick up. There was football in the backyard. Dick played under the near-equatorial sun, with an enthusiastic team of 6. Pedro Pablo discarded his crutches and bounced with amazing strength on one leg to save goal after goal. Darling little Paco, 5 years old, let out the air from the new football giving rise to the rumour that it had burst. Go down to the stationers(!) to buy another one. Two full day expeditions, one to the country and the other to the seaside, were highlights for us all. Chulucanas lies 1½ hours by road from Piura, not far from the Ecuador border.

Here at the "Chacra" by invitation of the owners who are relatives of Lai, Anita's children had the run of immense plantations of native fruit trees particularly guavas, coconuts and mangoes which they could eat to their hearts'; content. A truly memorable sight was that of Hugo and Pedro Pablo high up in the branches of a mango, broad smiles on their faces, disabilities forgotten. Later in the day the able-bodied made their way to the river to wade and wallow in the shallow warm water. Paco, quite an acrobat, did headstands in the soggy sandbanks then toppled over with a splash to lie contentedly gazing up into the brilliant blue sky. The deeply disabled children were laid gently on sheets in shady areas to watch and to enjoy the different surroundings. The trip to the beach at Chuyurlachi near the mouth of the River Piura, was the greatest treat. Carla was thrilled. Aged 28, going on 3, she shouted out "La Playa" at intervals for days after. The golden sands spread north and south as far as the eye could see and were quite empty though we did all help to clear away the weekend litter before setting up camp. Then those who could, rushed into the waves mostly fully dressed, and rode the rollers while the less able were placed on plastic chairs to dangle their feet in the shallow and feel the wavelets run over them.

Pedro Pablo and Hugo created sand sculptures on the beach. An impressive head of Christ took shape despite the destructive interest of the small albino pup which accompanied us. Rosemary lay as usual on her front watching the sea. She sketched the scene at my request with a biro on my notepad. Later after a picnic lunch, fish fresh from the sea was purchased and ceviche prepared on the beach using the spicy little Peruvian lemons and hot peppers. As we left, 4 dolphins appeared so close inshore they seemed about to join us to the delight of all. It was soon clear to us that the "children" ages range from 28-5, are very much members of a family, albeit a large family. They are indeed Anita's family and many of them told me how she had taken them into her home and cared for them as though they were her own. We could see her influence in everything, everywhere - the high standards of behaviour and of service, consideration for each other, a gentleness and tolerance, but above all amongst the carers a genuine love for their charges. They are all now bereft of that great mother figure and we mourned alongside them, keeping vigil by the coffin surrounded by huge bouquets of flowers; we walked with them to the church of San Sebastian and then went on to the cemetery to witness the highly emotional burial.

Each evening for about a week we attended with them a service of remembrance conducted in the home with many visitors present. [Again and again people spoke of Anita's goodness, saintliness, of her complete devotion to helping the very poor. Here in Peru the very poor still die for lack of money to pay for medicines. Anita's first task, self-imposed 43 years ago, was to amass medicines with her own money and distribute them from the top of a lorry through the villages in the Sierra where the need was desperate.] Despite the great sadness at this immeasurable loss, there is an acceptance of the inevitable and hope for the future. Anita's spirit lives and Pali is a reliable, strong successor, thoroughly imbued with the principles that drove Anita on. They waved us off at the airport, lining the spectators'; gallery, even Hector and Carlos Paul in their wheel chairs. It was hard to say "adios" but we plan to return. An obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph on Friday March 1st 2002 and in This Week 23rd March 2002.

News of the Children

The children are thriving under Pali's care and she has taken in 3 more who had been abandoned by their parents: Karina is a young girl aged 8 with malformation of the feet; Jhony has microcephalus, he is blind and physically disabled; Lexon has one malformed foot, an inguinal hernia and has learning disabilities. Hector who has been confined to a wheelchair for many years is now able to stand unsupported which is such good news. He is still passionate about Manchester United! Sadly, Josue, who had been responding so well to natural remedies, had a relapse and died in April. The children who are able to paint and draw have taken part in a painting competition and won first prize!

Rosemary's Poem

I am sure some of you are able to speak Spanish. Here is a poem written by Rosemary:

Recordemos A Anita

Hoy me puse a recordar, Aquella mujer que me dio, Tanto en esta vida, Que melancolía se respira, Cada vez que se nos viene a, Nuestras memorias, Esa frases tan profundas, E indescriptibles que en, Conclusión encierran un, Significado tan grande, Como es el amor que ella, Lo sabia dar.

Como quisiera que ella, Estuviera aquí, Quizá a los que lean estas, Líneas, de repente piensen, Que exagero en escribir con, Tan profundo pesar.

Pero en verdad, les digo, Que ella significa mucho, Para aquellos que como nosotros, Pudimos percibir de cerca, Lo cuan maravilloso que, Era ello, y para los que tienen, Conocimiento de su gran obra, Les deja un mensaje de amor, Solidaridad, etc. Y sobre todo de reflexión.

Para mi en particular ella era, Y es como mi madre; Siempre estaba pendiente Si me encontraba bien o no, De la misma forma lo hizo, Con todos los que estábamos, A su alrededor.

En sus oraciones, Siempre estaba presente, La gente de los hospitales, Los niños abandonados, La gente pobre, los que se, Encontraban en las cárceles, etc.

Siempre nos decía; ustedes, Tienen que estas preparados, Para el futuro, nos enseñó, Con sabia inteligencia lo, Que ella aprendió, pero como, Nadie es perfecto en la vida, Se le olvidó enseñarnos a, Como poder vivir sin ella.

Precisamente un día anterior, Al 4 de Junio, o tal vez, Días anteriores a la fecha, Ya nos encontrábamos haciendo, Los preparativos, para brindarle, un poco de alegría, al cumplir, un año mas de vida.

No imaginan que difícil es, Poder hacernos la idea que, Esto no sucederá jamás Ahora nos preparamos para, Ir rumbo a donde ella, Descansa en paz, para decirle, Feliz Día al ser que nos dio, Y nos da razón de vivir, Gracias a su infinito amor es, Que ahora nosotros podemos, Sonreír.

En este día con mucha nostalgia, Y a la vez alegría, celebramos su, Cumpleaños con rosas como a ella, Le gustaba, con una oración o, Quizá una canción entonada, Por sus niños con mucho AMOR.

Felíz Cumpleaños Ann Goulden Te deseamos, Los niños de La Sendita.

Creación: Rossemary Hidalgo Gonzales.

Finance Report by Patrick Disney

The generosity of the supporters of the Trust continues to be incredible. However, the level of donations is down on previous years and we will now have to start selling some of our investments to meet the current level of monthly payments ($20,000). Unless the level the level of donations pick up we will have to cut back on these payments within a year.

Christmas Cards

We have now chosen a card which has been painted by Hugo. It is printed here in black and white, but it is in fact available in four colour. It is very simple and very attractive. If you would like to order a pack or two please fill in the form. Thank you.