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March, 2004

Newsletter #12

There are no magical words or soothing tones when one is in trouble or grief. There is just life to be faced but there is a strength in sharing and we must help those who need us when we can. (Quote from Anita Goulden.)

Message from Nicholas Shakespeare

Message from our honorary President, Nicholas Shakespeare - the distinguished novelist and biographer: lden was a woman who altered the lives and perceptions of anyone whose path she bustled across. At her house on the north coast of Peru, she gave a future to children who had no future - children too numerable to mention. But her influence extended beyond Peru, and by the example of her passion, strength and selflessness she inspired people of all ages, from all over the world, to join in her unswervable mission to secure that future. I suspect there will be many reading this who, like me, had no idea how our individual talents and character might be put to use - until, that is, we met or heard about Anita. Certainly, she changed my life when I first came across her with Patrick Disney. Within minutes, we both found ourselves giving all the money we had on us. Back in England, I told John Hatt, who was likewise moved, and therefore created the Anita Goulden Trust in Britain.

Ditto the thousands who wrote in after I published an article in the Daily Telegraph magazine. The miraculous sums that you donated helped the Trust first to ensure that La Sendita could survive, and then that it could progress. But even though a continuing supply of funds is absolutely essential, money on its own is not enough. It needs someone to organise it: to thank those kind enough to send it; to keep them informed of the way it is being spent; to chivvy them, if need be, to contribute even more. It needs, if you like, another Anita. And how fortunate we were to find that person - and to find her so early on. I sincerely believe that without Annabel Buchan there would be today no charity devoted to continuing Anita's work with the children of Piura. Sometimes the problems of the Trust have been overwhelming, and would have crushed a lesser person; but Annabel has overcome all obstacles, and furthermore overcome them while keeping her constant calm and good humour. No one is more richly deserving of the MBE that she was awarded in the New Year's Honours list. Congratulations, Annabel - and long may you thank, inform and chivvy us.

Following on Nicholas' Message…

I thought it might be of interest to you if I told you how I came to be involved with the Trust: In October 1989, I was being driven by my husband down to Cheltenham Races. To pass the time, I started reading the Daily Telegraph Supplement and came across an article about Anita Goulden written by Nicholas Shakespeare. I was so moved and excited by it that I couldn't wait to get home, send some money and ask if there was anything I could do to help. This I did and after a few weeks I had a telephone call from John Hatt asking if I could go round to his house as soon as possible to help to open all the mailbags which littered his sitting room. I went round immediately and that afternoon alone we opened about £50,000 worth of cheques, postal orders and sometimes just a coin strapped to a piece of paper saying "This is all I can afford". John was overwhelmed by the response to Nicholas' article and wanted to reply to every letter. He nervously asked me if I could help him to do this and I was delighted to do so. He provided envelopes, stamps and a letter to be copied and distributed. I took all the letters and postcards away with me and handed them around my family and friends, begging them to stuff the envelopes, address and send them out. With the initial amount of money, Anita was able to buy a house, pay off her debts and buy food and medicines for the children.

Money continued to come in and in 1991 a charitable Trust was formed and registered at my home address with the Charity Commissioners. I was invited to act as a Trustee and administer the Trust on a day to day basis. I must say I did not realise what a task this would be! For 2 consecutive years 2 films about Anita were shown on television and after each one sackfuls of contributions arrived and armies of volunteers descended on our house to help me deal with all the correspondence. Just opening the contents of the sacks was a mammoth task. But once all the excitement had died down and I had compiled a list of addresses, I was able to keep you all informed as to how the Trust was progressing and what Anita was doing to manage those children with severe disabilities, orphans, and children from the Sierra whom she had pledged to help. I try to send out a newsletter twice a year and this involves a great deal of manpower. So I have now been involved with the Trust for nearly 15 years! Anita came over for 2 weeks and spent a few days with us which was an interesting experience. We have had many ups and downs and of course the sadness of her death in 2002. I had the privilege of visiting Anita at La Sendita in 1995 which was a very moving and wonderful experience. It is well worth a visit when you next venture that way. I love talking to you on the telephone and hearing all your news. So please keep in touch and go on contributing as you have done so marvellously all these years. — Annabel A. Buchan.

News From La Sendita

On Sunday, 1 February, many in Piura went to lay flowers on Anita Goulden's grave, marking the second anniversary of her death, and celebrating the legacy she left: La Sendita. Here is some recent news from there. On 17 January Pedro Pablo had a third operation, this time on his left leg. Dr Alfredo Aybar visited Piura from Lima to perform it, and we have heard from Pali that it was a great success. There are more operations still to come, which cannot be pleasant for Pedro Pablo, who is a charming and highly talented young man, as well as a brave one, but the splendid news is that Pali reports that Dr Aybar believes Pedro Pablo will eventually be able to walk normally. In the meantime, he continues with his studies, and with his painting, sculpture, and guitar music. Karina, a little girl with malformed feet and lower legs, was also operated on by Dr Aybar. One foot is now straight and a second operation, on the other one, was scheduled for 14 February. Dr Aybar's view was that Rosmery - now studying law at university in Piura, and another of La Sendita's very talented painters - should visit Lima to be fitted with an orthopaedic device which would allow her to walk. This, too, is tremendous news. At the end of 2003, 14 children passed from pre-school to first grade, while 16 graduated from secondary school. One of them, Santos, is now studying fashion. Lucia continues with her dental studies. And there are now nearly a hundred chickens thriving on the land which was donated by a local agricultural co-operative. La Sendita will soon take another step towards feeding itself! All these developments are made possible by you - the people who support the work begun in Piura all those years ago by Anita Goulden. Thank you once more for everything you do - please continue to support us if you can.

Debbie Griffith Pays a Visit to La Sendita

Last Autumn Debbie Griffith paid a visit to La Sendita. Here is her story: I read about the Anita Goulden Trust many years ago and can remember sending them a fiver I had found in a car park! I was a student paediatric nurse at the time and asked if I could go and help at La Sendita. The answer was no, as it was so dangerous. I took my bat and ball home, but the chance came to visit Peru last year so I thought I would pester them again. This time the answer was yes! It was everything and more that I could have wished for. Happily, the children are well cared for and are absolutely delightful. Many of the children in the home have special needs and have nurses, daily physio and those who can, attend school. There is always something going on. I was taken to an inter-school version of Pop Idol! This wouldn't have been so bad if each child didn't sing their song twice and one of the judges had refrained from singing himself! You had to be there! The good news is we came second, much to the screaming delight of La Sendita. Paly and the team seem to be doing a great job of keeping things going. Anita would have been proud of them. I never met Anita, but I felt her presence everywhere! They have dedicated a room in the school to Anita. It has everything in there from her original passport and old worn handbag to humanitarian awards presented to her from around the world. There is also a local park in memory of Anita with a marvellous sculpture of her made by Paly. Everybody still misses her, especially Paly. I had managed to raise about £500 for the Anita Goulden Trust before setting off.

Some of this I spent on toys, art materials, clothes etc. and the rest I took with me. The remainder went towards a much needed water installation at the farm for the animals. Having been to the farm I know it will be worth every penny. I have such admiration for Anita. Have you ever asked yourselves what you would have done if it had been you who had found those children close to death on the streets all those years ago? Yes, you would like to think that you would have helped them, paid for any medical costs or someone to look after them, even try to adopt them, but would you really have given up everything you had to live in a remote and often dangerous country? It takes guts! As lovely as Piura is, it is still tinged with the Shining Path. I wasn't allowed out on my own, but I doubt they would have stopped Anita! When I left I had to kiss and hug what seemed like half the population of Peru. I was doing OK until a boy with a facial disfigurement kissed me and that was it! So I left in tears vowing to return - and I will. There is so much love in La Sendita, you can't help but take some of it away with you. For those of you who contribute, raise funds or give time to the Anita Goulden Trust in whatever way, keep giving! Anita needs you as much now as she did then. I can't help thinking she might have had something to do with Annabel's MBE! God Bless. Debbie Griffith, Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

My Friendship with Anita, by Sallie Morgan

My friendship with Anita dated from our first meeting with her in January 1999. From then on we remained in close touch, speaking with difficulty over the phone and exchanging news by post. I did not realise when we first met that she was already ill with cancer of the spine. She was so joyous, vigorous and hospitable. Her personality and her life's work, manifest in the 40 or so children, disabled, underprivileged and/or abandoned, who continued to live with her, made a tremendous impression on me. My great hope was to return and record Anita's stories of her experiences in Peru so that her supporters in the UK should have a better understanding of her work there. It was not to be. When we met again she was in intensive care and unable to speak because of the trachaeotomy. I was, however, able to read some of the notebooks in which Anita recorded details of the children and her own experiences during so many years dedicated to the poor of Peru. She wrote during the night for herself, and to send copies back to friends at home. Here is one extract: "What can I offer these people in exchange for corruption, lying, cruelty and indifference? Only faith in God, loyalty and understanding. What could I do against all this corruption? Idle criticism is no use. Anyone can be an armchair critic. Peru can do 2 things to you: absorb you or repulse you. I could do one of several things: close my eyes, go along with it or walk away from it. But then I would not be a true friend to this country or these people. Or I could roll up my sleeves and stop 'bellyaching'. It certainly repulsed me enough when I saw the filth, no hot water, stagnant minds but when I studied the misery, poverty and suffering all around me, it became a challenge. It became my problem too."

Financial Comment from David Thomas

Following new bequests towards the end of last year, the Trust now holds financial reserves sufficient to assure funding to La Sendita over the coming year. The importance of this reserve can hardly be overstated, as it is this that provides the home with the financial security it needs to flourish and grow. The Trust depends entirely on a constant flow of donations to continue its support and we are most grateful to all our contributors. Financial accounts of the Trust are prepared and independently examined each year. The report for the year ended 31 August 2003 is now available and interested contributors may obtain a copy by writing to Annabel Buchan at: The Anita Goulden Trust, 144 Bronsart Road, London, SW6 6AB, UK.

Donations

It is wonderful to know that there are so many of you who support the Trust. Thank you also to those of you who support the Trust through standing orders. It is such a help to know that we can rely on a certain amount of money coming in each year.

Christmas Cards

The Christmas cards this year were a great success - particularly the Llama by Miguel. Although there are several left over for next year, we will get a new design ready for next Christmas so watch this space!