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October, 2010

Newsletter #21

Kevin at the computer.

Kevin at the computer

Message from Roger Brown, Chairman

Good news on two fronts. In Piura for the last five years the home has been operating in the cramped conditions of a rented house. This has naturally put both children and staff under strain, and also made it difficult or impossible to care for a larger number of children and young people, or introduce new ways of helping them. But now the wonderful local committee there has found a suitable and much larger house for sale. Our hope is that within a few weeks the home will be expanding into a building which will allow the present children, and perhaps new ones, to receive all the care, support and attention they need and deserve. We hope it may even be possible to do some outreach work, taking support to children with disabilities living outside the home. Regular readers will know that the Trust's Patron is the distinguished novelist, biographer and journalist Nicholas Shakespeare. It was Nicholas who, in 1989, visited the home and subsequently wrote about it for the Daily Telegraph. That article, and a resulting television programme, caught the attention of many who then became, and still remain, supporters of the home (not least someone who is now the very backbone of the Trust, our Administrator Annabel Buchan). It also gave birth to the Trust itself as a way of receiving and managing donations and sending them out to Piura. It is fair to say that his article, and what followed, ensured the survival of the home. The good news is that last May, Nicholas returned to the home after a gap of twenty years, and was delighted and astonished by what he found there.

He is preparing a second article about it which is scheduled to appear in the Daily Telegraph, probably in the colour magazine, on a Saturday in November. Nicholas's was not the only visit to Piura this summer. Trustee and former trustee Victor and Leonora Riega were there too, and because Victor is from Piura and Leo spent many months working as a volunteer at the home, they were warmly welcomed by the children and staff, bringing back a positive report and excellent suggestions for improvement. Finally, and as always, let me express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who support the work in Piura. The move to the new house, when it comes, will bring great benefits, but buying it will swallow up a large slice of our funds, so please do continue to help us if you can, and our warmest thanks for allowing us to get this far. We could not have done it without your help.

Visit by Ed Brumby

Apart from playing with the children and seeing if I could help them further, I had two objectives this year. One was to continue to try and help Kevin use a computer and the other was to try and get a bit closer to Ivan. I think I achieved both. Progress with Kevin would not have been possible without the help and contacts of Anita Mollet. She is a stalwart. I stayed with her and was made very welcome. She also allowed me to use one of her upstairs rooms as an electronics workshop. The children are, as always, very clean, well fed, and in general as happy as they can be. I thought the use of volunteers a great idea. I spoke to some of them and they seemed very enthusiastic. I hope any volunteers who visit the Home in the future will encourage the children to play games as well as take them to the park. One thing that struck me hard this time was that the staff are so busy washing them, feeding them, doing physiotherapy etc that it leaves them very little time to play. I met the new Committee this time and they seem very dynamic. Anita Mollet keeps a very close eye on things. Without her, I don't think the home would be as well run.

Nicholas Shakespeare.

Nicholas Shakespeare

I was delighted that I got closer to Ivan on this trip. I managed to “get into his space” and each time he would bring a wheel chair which he would move in every direction, mainly with his feet. When I got up, he would follow me everywhere with the wheelchair. That was progress. On the last day I noticed he was playing with a ball. I hadn't seen this before, so I got one of his favourite stools and started catching the ball when he threw it. We then progressed to him either throwing or rolling the ball onto the stool. He loved it. The trouble was again he didn't want to stop. He went off to try it on his own. I took the children to the beach. It was not the kind of beach I expected but we had a great day. I took the large ice cream tubs and we had a go at sand castles etc. The highlight of the presents I took them was a packet of long balloons that made a noise as they snaked across the courtyard. Most of them went into the building site next door, on the roof, or stuck on the bamboo beams, much to the delight of the children. I had a marvellous, rewarding trip. When I saw Kevin move the mouse pointer on the screen, I gave him a big hug and said I had waited two years for this.

Returning to Piura After Twenty Years by Nicholas Shakespeare

Hogar Anita Goulden.

Hogar Anita Goulden

This May, I returned to Piura for the first time in almost twenty years. The city has grown, with new streets, new districts, and even a new park. Named after Anita Goulden, it is a tribute to the immense good that this remarkable Mancunian woman did in the course of forty odd years she spent in north-west Peru. Anita died eight years ago. With her passing, her achievements and example might easily have vanished back into the desert. Despite one or two hiccups, this has not happened. In large measure, this can be attributed to each and every one of you who continue to give your support, and to the unstinting efforts of Annabel Buchan and the Trustees in London. All I can report back is a bulletin of thanks. By your help, it is abundantly clear that you are keeping many children alive. Not only that, you are giving them the chance of a better life - to study and to graduate; to marry and to have children of their own - boys and girls who will not be abandoned as they were. And in the miracle of that new generation, please know that you are serving to keep Anita's memory alive and relevant as they are. The three days I spent in Piura were among the most intense I can remember.

I was concerned that I might not remember faces, but as soon as I stepped into the Anita Goulden Home in Calle Los Fresnos I recognised Vicki and Chavela, grinning from their wheelchairs as if 19 years had not passed. 15-year old Johnny with an oxygen mask permanently cupped to his face and legs thinner than it is possible to imagine. “He needs to see the children. He feels very at home when he sees others,” said Nancy, a nurse who has worked for 21 years with the children. I remember Kevin, half-paralysed with cerebral palsy, his hand in a white sock to prevent him scratching, who dreams of being a lawyer. I remember Angelica who cries if the radio is turned off. I remember Lecson pushing me and how he communicated with his dark eyes which seemed to know so many things that his lips were unable to tell. I remember Jefferson singing as he fastened on his leg braces. And Anita's words coming back: “To those who say that God does not exist, I say the stars do not exist during the daytime, but they are still there in the heavens. We need darkness to see them… Look at the desert in Piura. You have sunshine all day - and what is there? Nothing”. Most exciting of all was to meet some of the young women I had known as mere infants.

Four of them are shortly to graduate, bringing to a total of seven the number that the Anita Goulden Trust has steered through university. While in Piura, I also spoke with the local committee who are working alongside Anita Mollet. I had never met Anita before, but three days in her company convinced me that if there's one person who can take credit for safeguarding the work of the original Anita, it is Anita Mollet; a conviction confirmed on my last morning by an inquisitive taxi- driver. Observing the door out of which I'd stepped, he asked: “Is that Senora Anita's house?” and when I said that it was: “What an excellent woman she is.” Then: “A very humane person.” Before I left Piura, I went to see Anita's grave. My guide to the cemetery was Hugo, who lost both legs in a lorry accident in Hualcabamba. Perhaps no one better embodies Anita's legacy than this self-supporting artist. I follow Hugo through the cemetery to a slab of chipped grey marble. A boy with a plastic bucket kneels over the simple inscription, sponging it clean. The inscription says: ‘Great was the pain of your parting, but greater still the indelible memory of your presence that will endure among us.’ “She liked football,” Hugo says. “Right to the end, she supported Manchester United.” You can read more of Nicholas' visit in his article scheduled for 6th November in The Daily Telegraph Weekend Magazine.

News of the Children

Roni.

Roni

Leo says: Being back at Hogar Anita Goulden after nearly two years was incredibly moving - apart from seeing all the amazing, funny, brilliant and brave children and young people again, I was astounded at the progress of many. For example, Jaime is now going to work three days a week; Karina is studying beauty therapy; Vicky is not only feeding herself but also making sure Ana-Alicia eats her dinner; Kevin is studying more complex maths than I could ever hope to understand; and Jose Luis copied my movements for the first time. Chavela is now much less prone to getting hysterically upset and calms down a lot quicker. She has always been warm, but is now less clingy and has really developed a good relationship with Vicki - and always watches out for everyone, shouting if there is trouble (mostly Lecson!). She is now eating by herself unsupervised. I used to be scared of Karla and her notorious scratching of people (I have a scar from her and she would often make me bleed!). She now no longer scratches herself or others unless something like a loud bang frightens her and then she only needs to be talked to and she will stop straight away - I sat holding hands with her which was a first. She communicates like Vicki and Chavela with noises and hand gestures.

Roni is more able to move his limbs now though his movement is still very restricted. He is also more vocal - using a variety of sounds to communicate - and is, as always, incredibly smiley. Jefferson is growing up fast. He has stopped studying IT but would like to restart. Jefferson loves football and played in the children with disabilities Piura football competition; he also enjoys art sessions with Hugo. His mother comes to the home regularly and he also goes to her home each weekend. Ivan (probably the most changed child and a pleasure to see) used to be strapped to his chair and grabbing for doors to slam. He showed no affection and though could walk, was never allowed to. He was also spoon fed. Ivan and I walked to the church service in memory of Anita together, him pushing Chavela's wheelchair to maintain balance and also help out. He then sat quietly in the church before signalling me over, giving me a big hug, stroking Chavela's hair, then sitting quietly throughout the entire service. It was truly incredible. He is also eating by himself and spending time each week with a tutor so can put shapes in order and play simple games.

Children.

Children

Angelica and Aldir are both new from when I last visited the home. They both have physical and mental disabilities and spend a lot of time on the first floor of the home with Trinidad - they also sleep in the light room. They are both smiley children but struggle to communicate - it will be interesting to see whether there are any changes when Victor and I visit again in the future. Milagros is the newest arrival - she is three years old but looks the size of a six month old, with severe physical disability. And sadly there were a couple doing less well - Jhony Javier has been very ill, with breathing difficulties and is now constantly on a respirator, whilst Trini, despite her cancer being in remission, is still fragile. But all are beautifully looked after by the continued dedication and care given by the staff, many of whom have known the children all their lives. I was pleased to see that Rolo now has a young assistant to help with lifting those with disabilities; and the staff have put together an excellent healthy menu which is stuck up in the kitchen. There have also been some wonderful volunteers visiting over the last two years, who everyone in the home talks about fondly. We had a fun visit to the cinema and to my amazement, all the children and young people arrived half an hour early!

Victor and I also had a delicious lunch cooked by Cindy, Kathy and Maribel in Casita Anitas (the house for the older girls) and caught up with their news: Maribel, a confident and incredibly caring girl now is studying to be a nurse and wants to work in the Hogar when she graduates; Cindy is studying tourism; and Kathy is studying accountancy. They also hope to run a ceviche restaurant together. Casita Anitas is a lovely apartment which the girls keep beautifully. They work well together and support each other through exams. In Lima I caught up with Brenda, Esther and Santos who are all living together and working. They are all well and love life in the capital. We all went to see Sergio who is now taller than all of us. He is doing brilliantly - playing football twice a week, helping with the laundry and mentoring younger boys at Hogar de Cristo. The Hogar has managed to significantly reduce his medication so Sergio was alert, cracking jokes and much more himself than during my previous visit. Leaving was hard - but made very special by Esther dodging security guards to find me in the airport and give me a big hug goodbye. I don't know when I will be able to go back for another visit but I hope it is soon! But thanks to Facebook, we can now stay in regular contact.

Financial Report by David Thomas, Trustee

The most notable event of recent months has, of course, been the decision of the Trust to finance the purchase of a permanent home for the children and young people. The Trustees were helped in taking this decision by good results achieved on our investment portfolio, but more importantly by the receipt of a generous legacy left to us by a long-time supporter of the Trust. Bequests of this kind are of enormous value to the Trust and the Home, allowing us as they do, to meet the larger and more strategic costs that arise in running and developing the Home. The Trustees give great importance to maintaining a level of reserves in the Trust that give reasonable assurance to the Home that we shall be able to support them well into the future. We are satisfied that investment in the new building does not jeopardise this objective and indeed that there are real advantages to the Home in moving from rented premises. The cost of the building will be recovered in time from saved rental costs. We are enormously grateful to our donors for their continuing support and we take all possible care to ensure that your contributions are well spent. In this regard, we have been impressed by the determination of the new local committee to see that the Home is well administered financially. We were also delighted to hear that local fund-raising activities are underway in Piura, which will help your donations to go even further.

Christmas Party

Last year we decided at the last minute to hold a Christmas Party and managed to raise over £600. We are hoping to repeat this event on 7th December here in Bronsart Road where there is ample parking after 5pm and a good bus and underground service. Should you be interested in receiving an invitation, please let Annabel Buchan know. No entrance fee but donations accepted in lieu.