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March, 2005

Newsletter #13

If we only ever had sunshine and no rain, everything would be unproductive. Necessity brings out the best in man. It makes him face the dangers in life. If man does not struggle there is no progress. They go hand in hand. (Quote from Anita Goulden.)

Message from the Chairman

Roger Brown: Dear Friends, I must begin by saying how very sorry I am that it has been such a long time since the last newsletter. There have been some important changes at La Sendita, and it seemed a good idea to wait until we could relay the good news of their successful implementation. As so often happens, that took longer than we hoped. Regular readers will know that your trustees have been concerned about how to ensure the proper management and successful development of the home and the college in Piura following the death of Anita, their founder and inspiration for so long. One thing we have always known: while La Sendita can be supported and helped from the UK, it can only be successfully managed locally. And it is important for the future that financial and other forms of support should be found in Peru, as well as in the UK. The main difficulty has been to recruit a local management committee of independent, suitably qualified people of high reputation, acceptable to the various interested parties. I am very happy to report that I believe that, after many difficulties, that has now been achieved. The committee is chaired by a local doctor, Dr Jose Tejero Franco, and contains a number of other distinguished local people including Señor Eduardo Solano, the Administrator of one of the 2 universities in Piura.

While Paly - Ruth Fernandez - who acted as Anita's right hand for so many years, remains in charge of the day to day running of La Sendita, the committee has begun to look at all aspects of the home and school, from management to finance to levels of staffing and so on, and our hope is that this work will result in a stronger and even more impressive organisation, and one where you, the donors who make it all possible, can be confident that your funds are used in the best possible way. In reaching this stage the trustees have had a great deal of help and support from another Anita in Piura, Anita Mollet, an old friend of Anita Goulden from her earliest days in Peru, and herself mother of a son with disabilities. We were also greatly helped by the presence in Piura during the last weeks of 2004 of Leo Borg, a young woman with a great impulse to help children with disabilities. Leo not only taught English and karate to the children, but was very active in helping the new committee to get up and running. Leo describes her stay at La Sendita in this newsletter. There is some deeply sad news to report. In August of last year 2 young boys, Pedro Pablo, who had been living at La Sendita for several years, and Juan Alex, the son of a member of staff at the home, were killed in a tragic accident. No one who has visited La Sendita will ever be able to forget Pedro Pablo's bravery and cheerfulness in the face of his disability, or fail to have been impressed by his artistic and musical talents, and his determination to succeed.

He and Juan Alex are deeply missed. Here in the UK last June saw our Administrator and trustee, Annabel Buchan, receive her much deserved MBE from HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Annabel tells the story elsewhere in this newsletter, but I want to say here that never was an award more richly deserved. For many people Annabel is The Anita Goulden Trust, and there is no doubt that our success in raising funds, and thereby enabling La Sendita to survive and grow, are largely due to her. Congratulations, too, to our Patron, Nicholas Shakespeare, who has had 2 highly regarded books published in recent months: a new novel, 'Snowleg', and a much acclaimed account of a country on the other side of the world, 'In Tasmania'. I have already gone on for far too long, but I should like to make 2 final and most important points. While we believe that La Sendita is now set on the right course for the future, many difficulties still lie ahead. The trust is always glad to hear from anyone who would like to visit La Sendita and to help, for a shorter or longer time, in the work there, and those with relevant experience would be especially welcome. Also, it is literally true that La Sendita can only survive with your support. It is your donations which give life, happiness, and opportunity to children who would otherwise have none. Thank you for all your support in the past. If you can, please continue to help us in the future.

Leo Borg gives us the latest news from Piura

Leaving the UK in snow, I arrived during the peak of another scorching Piuran summer. The children and young people greeted me with flowers and plenty of hugs. They were all excited to tell me their latest news, which included all the children passing their end of year exams; and Alvaro being reunited with his father. The Home is progressing well, with the staff continuing their excellent work. Marly, the new administrator, joined the team 3 months ago and is a huge asset. Some excellent new ideas are being put in place, such as involving the parents more and working alongside a nutritionist to produce healthier meals. Whilst I was in Piura, the bishop paid us a visit. The children prepared a ceremony, which included Kevin (who is paralysed) reading; Esther singing; Miguel playing the piano and the disabled children and young people putting on a performance to music. The bishop was extremely impressed with the Home. Cezar and Audencio, 2 adults with learning disabilites who were in the Home, are both living independently now, supported by the committee to find work.

Cezar is living with his relatives in Lima and working for a fizzy drinks company; Audencio is working for a car rental firm, who also provide him with accommodation recently to say how proud he is to be helping his family; Audencio visited the Home whilst I was there and is very happy with his new life. Hugo, who used to be in the Home as a child, is now teaching the children and young people art in the Home - their work is stunning under his tuition. The Home is unique to northern Peru and there are over 20 children with disabilites waiting for a place in Hogar Anita Goulden. The committee are therefore considering expanding the Home to respond to the immense need. The Trust and committee continue to work closely together to continue Anita's work - thank you to everyone for your help, and a big thank you from all the children too!

Dr. Bach Flower Remedies

Our sincere thanks to The Director of the Dr. Bach Flower centre in Wallingford who donated a complete box of Remedies to the Hogar Anita Goulden. Anita Goulden treated several of her severely disabled children very successfully with these remedies and the current Director is continuing to administer them to the children, in particular Trinidad with spectacular results. They give a positive outlook to the future and help to manage the emotional demands of everyday life.

Anita Goulden's work on DVD

We are making some DVDs of the original films of Anita visiting the villages in the mountains and her work during the cholera outbreak in the early 90s. We also have a DVD of the present children and staff. The films of Anita, called "For the Sake of the Children" and " Until Tomorrow Comes", are wonderful and very moving, while the DVD of today's children made during her visit by Leonora Borg, is also delightful. If you would like a copy, please let me know. The cost will probably be in the region of £8 (plus postage).

My Investiture by Prince Charles

A brief account of my Investiture by Prince Charles on 25th June 2004: At 8.30 am we all squeezed into a friend's car (my husband, Iain, Yolanda Williams [an AGT Trustee] and Jane Pybus, an old friend). We got stuck in the traffic for quite a long time, but all was well and we made it to Buckingham Palace in very good time and hung about outside chatting to others who were there to receive an honour. Then in we went at the head of the queue so my entourage got a good seat in the ballroom where the Investiture was to take place. I was sent in the opposite direction to the gallery and was directed into the MBE section and a sort of pin was stuck onto my suit so that Prince Charles (who was taking the Investure Ceremony that day) could easily pin on my medal. We waited in the gallery for some time and I found some nice and interesting people to talk to most of whom had been awarded the MBE for services to a Council, Gas Works, Customs & Excise, Police etc. Unfortunately, nobody famous that day! Then Sir Malcolm Ross came and told us what to do and how to do it. He was very amusing and light hearted and said that we would know when to stop the second volume of our life history because Prince Charles would offer his hand, which was a clear indication that the interview was over.

He also said " we should call him "Sir" as it is easier than saying "Your Royal Highness" in case we had the wrong teeth in! We stood around looking at the marvellous pictures and feeling a little bit nervous although Malcolm Ross had put us at our ease. Eventually we were called by name to line up and were marched out of our enclosure, along a corridor and into another sort of waiting room in a line. Behind me was a very nervous Indian woman who said she had flu and was shaking with nerves and said she got tongue-tied. I said I did too, so not to worry. Eventually we were into the Presence. I heard the announcement: "Annabel, Mrs. Buchan - For services to disadvantaged children in Peru". I walked on a few steps, turned to face The Prince, did a little curtsey (which was difficult because of my slightly stiff leg after my hip operation) and walked forward. I said "Good Morning" and he mumbled something back (couldn't hear what) and then asked if I had come over from Peru. I said I lived in Fulham and worked in my attic but that I had been to Peru and what a good idea it would be if, when he next visited, he could visit La Sendita. He said he had never been to Peru so I suggested that he put it on his list of countries to visit. He said "its wonderful that your work in your attic has been recognised" and laughed.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw his hand coming forward, so I took it and shook it, and stepped backwards 2 or 3 steps and fluffed my next curtsey because I had forgotten which was my good leg. Anyway I didn't fall over but I don't think it looked very elegant. My husband said Prince Charles looked very animated when he talked to me which was nice. He gave medals to about 120 of us and had something to say to each of us. Very clever of him. The lady before me, who I had talked to at length beforehand, said he told her how lovely her hat was. She was rather taken aback and told him that he must be an expert on hats by now! Then we came round back into the Ballroom and watched the rest of the procedure and felt rather relieved that it had all gone without a hitch. Then out and down the stairs and waited for hours to have our photograph taken. We got them biked round that evening so Jane could see them. Then we had a good lunch at the Cavalry Club, home in a taxi and feet up watching Wimbledon. It was a wonderful day to remember and I still can't believe it has happened to me.

Leo Borg in La Sendita

Leo Borg, a martial arts teacher, a musician and lover of children, went out to La Sendita for 6 weeks to help Pali. This is an account of her experiences: Five flights and 24 hours brought me to Piura, a city built on a desert. Paly, mother to 37 children, was there to greet me, give me an enormous hug and bundle me into a large run-down van. Ten minutes later I arrived at La Sendita to be met by several able-bodied children staring at me curiously, a lot of very disabled children, many of whom were not able to communicate and 2 parrots. The next morning I was woken by Charlie the parrot and the growing heat of the day. In December temperatures reach up to 40 degrees. During the following day, I spent about 5 minutes with each of the disabled children, dropped in at the handicapped school, had breakfast and then taught English and martial arts at the kindergarten. As their only regular active class is traditional dance once a week, they were delighted with the more active approach to teaching which I was taught in Japan. "Mrs. Paly, Eduardo is not doing it right. He is not turning his fist round properly when he punches" one child informed Paly after the first class. After the kindergarten, I taught karate to the primary school children. This took on a new dimension - how to fit a large number of children into a relatively small space. Luckily, they were extremely well behaved and organized themselves into neat lines without (for the most part!) hitting each other.

The afternoons were varied. I spent some afternoons seeing Piura, others organising meetings, still others helping Paly where needed and the occasional afternoon taking a siesta. But at 6.30pm I was back to teaching, with my La Sendita karate class. These were for the able-bodied children at the home, who are mostly between the ages of 6 and 17. These were my most dedicated students as we practiced daily for an hour and had both the space and time to really focus on developing strengths and weaknesses. The younger boys in particular were fearless, doing no-handed cartwheels, back flips and flying kicks at the drop of a hat! Especially interesting for me was developing a relationship with each of the disabled children. Some were easy to form a bond with, loving hugs and attention like Chavela and Jose Luis, but others took more time, such as Veronica and Nuria, who are much less responsive . However, during my 6 weeks there, I realized that every child communicates in his or her unique way. Ronni smiles, either if he agrees with you or if he thinks you are being silly. Trinidad squeezes your hand in response; Karla blows kisses if she is happy - but scratches if she isn't! One of the things that impressed me most about the home is how clean both the children and house are. The disabled children are bathed on average 3 times a day and a huge amount of care is given to their appearance and comfort. The nurses work tirelessly night and morning to ensure the children are physically and mentally at ease. The therapy is also fantastic and very thorough, plus an excellent form of entertainment for the kids.

It would, however, be wonderful for La Sendita to be able to afford more one-on-one attention for all the children in the future. It is hard not to be especially taken in by the first 2 boys Anita helped. Now in their late twenties, Carlos Paul and Hector are close friends and both born comedians. When I told Hector I did martial arts, he immediately posed as Bruce Lee. Every evening, I was treated like a lady, having my hand kissed (after huge hugs). Paly was extremely kind to let me read Anita's notes in La Sendita and the story of many of the children is appalling but Carlos Paul's is especially heart-wrenching: he was found crawling naked on the streets in the early hours of the morning with a broken arm, pneumonia and sand in his mouth. Known as the monkey, people put sand and shoes in his mouth for their entertainment. Anyone who has had the pleasure of spending time with Carlos Paul will know that he has a rare ability to make anyone smile, all thanks to Anita. Anita is hugely missed, but the home continues to offer the children a safe and happy environment in which to develop and grow. The older children are all working hard, either for university or in the hope of going to university. They are studying a wide range of subjects, including dentistry, fashion, psychology and law, whilst the younger children have more elaborate career choices - Alvaro wants to be an astronaut, whereas Paco says he will be a superhero! I hope I can go back one day.

Donations

Thank you to all of you who have sent donations - both large and small. 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. We also benefit greatly from legacies so do consider mentioning the Trust when you next update your Will.

Christmas Cards

I am sorry that it was not possible to have a Christmas card ready for last year. But I can assure you that we will have something for next year. Memories of Anita: We are planning to compile a slim volume of recollections, personal anecdotes etc to illustrate Anita's life, especially her Peruvian years. If any of you have stories to tell of your visits to her or any correspondence you would like to share, please contact me, Annabel A Buchan, at the Trust: The Anita Goulden Trust, 144 Bronsart Road, London, SW6 6AB, UK.