AN UPDATE ON NORMA LOUISE STAINSBY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM AUGUST 2010
This report is to share where we are with each student, the assets of the program, and ideas for the future.
Students who started in May 2008:
Lindaura – She was one of our first students and doing just fine in the nurse technician program. She is 21 years old and in her sixth and last semester, graduating in October this year. Her grades are average to above average. She is from San Alejandro. Throughout her schooling, we have provided an apartment, food, and at first, transportation until we changed her apartment, where she now lives near enough to the school to walk every day. We send her 100 soles each month to live on, which with today’s exchange rate is about $35 and pay for uniforms. Upon graduation, she will be required to do clinicals (called practicums) where she will work full time in a hospital in Iquitos in order to be ready to properly certified. So she will be with us until approx March 2011.
Irma – Sadly we had to make a difficult decision to dismiss her from our program. She started with Lindaura, but fell behind a semester. We gave her a second chance, but when we received her grades for this last semester ending in July, she had not passed one class, which meant that she would be now 2 semesters behind (almost a year). At this point, we met with her and told her that we would not be paying for any more school and that she was to leave the apartment with 2 weeks notice. If she wanted to continue in school, she would have to find a way to finance it herself. She was very quiet, and thanked us for the opportunity. She apparently left the apartment the same evening, taking her bed and linens. She was painfully thin and we know that she has had personal problems beyond our means or capabilities to help. Irma is 21 years old and from Mangua. We had provided the same apartment (she and Lindaura shared it), food and transportation, as well as $35 a month and uniforms. She was in Nurse Technician program. More difficult than meeting with Irma was our meeting with Irma’s mother. When we went to the jungle a few days after meeting with Irma, her mother met us at the boat, wanting news of her daughter. Renzo told her that she had not passed her courses. I suppose the look on her mother’s face said all that needed to be said. Because these are small communities of 150-300 people each, the news of Irma having her scholarship cut was spread all over the village quickly, which only added to the embarrassment her mother was feeling. I do worry that Irma’s actions will cause a stigma to this family in the community, becoming known as the family whose daughter failed. There are almost zero chances of young people being given opportunities in the jungle, so this event makes its mark with the people.
Students who started in May 2009:
Liz – Liz is our star. She is 19 and her grades have been above average every semester. She has just started her 4th semester. She lives with her maternal grandparents in Iquitos, and we pay for her daily transportation back and forth to school, and well as uniforms. Liz is from LLachapa and is in Nurse Technician program. Her parents and paternal grandmother have stayed active in her life, and we see them on every visit to the jungle, as they always search us out. Liz accompanied us to the health fair in July and helped give flu vaccine that was donated to DB Peru. At one point she gave her own father his injection and he made a big show of dramatics and made us all laugh.
Rick – Rick is a delightful young man, 20 years old, also from Llachapa. He is in his 3rd semester and his grades are good. He started out living with and working for his uncle, delivering gas. But by the second semester, his grades were slipping. His father was so committed to helping Rick, that he came from the jungle to talk with Dolly, the Director of the school. The plan that the two of them came up with was for Rick to quit working, the father would pay the semester that Rick failed to help get him back on track. This worked immediately. He pulled his grades up, and is doing great. He has now gone to live with Victor, where he helps out around the house and we are now paying for his food. Living with Victor, he can walk to school. He is in the Nurse Technician program.
Ober – Ober is another delightful young man, 24 years old, always smiling. He is from San Pedro and in the Lab Technician program. His grades are average. He is currently in his 3rd semester, since we had an administrative mix-up with his tuition, causing him to lose time, but did not cost the program any extra money. He took it in stride since he had waited a year to get into program. We pay for his transportation and he lives with his uncle.
Madila – She is 23 years old and in the Nurse Technician program and has just started her 4th semester with Liz. Her grades are average. She is from Tigrillo. Madila started out living with her mother’s friend in Iquitos, working as her maid. This did not work out, and she moved to another place. We eventually had to start sending her the $35 a month since she literally had no money or time to work. She then moved in with her grandmother, who worked in the marketplace. We found out during our meeting session with her in July that she had no food at her grandmother’s house and was not eating much at all, evidenced by her pencil-thin body. In the span of a few hours after we met with Irma, we made the decision to move Madila into the apartment with Lindaura and pay for her food. She can now walk to school, so we will not be paying her transportation, as before. She has a sad demeanor, and hopefully this nod of faith from us in bettering her living conditions will help give her confidence to finish and go forward. But she is on track in school, and attended our health fair in good humor, and gave injections with Liz.
Our new students in August 2010:
Tito – Tito Adriel Shahuano Armas is from Canadá (really) and is 20 years old. He has waited a year to be in our program. He will be in the Lab Technician program. He will take his entrance exams at the end of August, and start classes in early September. Tito is a serious-minded young man and an orphan. His guardian, Rolando, is the health promotor in the village of Canadá. Tito will be living with his uncle in Iquitos and we will pay for his transportation.
Jadier – Jadier Rider Vásquez Pacaya is from Isla Yarina and is 21 years old. He also has waited a year to be in our program. Renzo remembers him from last year’s interviews as the young man who waited almost 8 hours in the hotel lobby for us to arrive and was quite impressed with him. Again this year, when he found out that we were coming to Iquitos to talk about the program with him, he showed up early with all his paperwork complete – birth certificate, formal grade report from high school, copies of identification and photos. He will also be in Lab Technician program and will be taking entrance exam with Tito. He will be living with his uncle in Iquitos and we will pay for his transportation.
As a recap of who we are responsible to pay tuition for:
Lindaura (completed), Liz, Ober and Tito
The Director, Dolly at the school, Reyna de las Americas, has given matching scholarships for:
Irma (dismissed), Madila, Rick and Jadier
Since Irma still had one semester left on her scholarship with Dolly, Dolly has graciously permitted us to use it for Liz’s 4th semester tuition. She is a good woman.
Tuition for one 5-month semester is about $300.
The apartment that I refer to is located on the same street as Victor’s house. It is quite small, and we pay approx $70 a month for it. We had to buy a new bed to replace the one that Irma took. And I bought new bedding and towels for both since it had been 2 years since we first supplied things. We also bought 2 new cabinets for clothing and personal items, each cost about $20. They have a small TV which we bought a year ago and recently made a repair to it for about $25. They have a fan and each have a small table to work on with chair. It is minimal at best, but adequate. The school is within 6 blocks of the apartment.
Lindaura, Rick and Madila take their meals at Victor’s house as his wife cooks for more than 30 poor people each day and we pay about $2.50 a day per student for all 3 meals.
For those students that we pay transport for, we pay about $1.50 a day round trip on days that they attend school (not weekends).
It appears that not one of the students can successfully hold a job and do school work, so we have made that a requirement - no student should attempt to work while in program.
We will continue to give Lindaura and Madila $35 a month to live on unless something changes. After 2 years I still do not know if that is enough, but I doubt if it is too much. But they have not asked for more, so I do not offer. We would also prefer not to accept new students needing an apartment, but we will finish the commitment to these 2 as long as they need it.
Victor continues to be a strong force and overseer of all the students. In July, he gave us a full report, student by student before we met with each one of them. He checks their grades and meets with Dolly when we are not there. He pays the tuition and disperses the money.
As you can see, at this level of involvement, we are intimately involved with the students’ lives and their living arrangements and conditions, which may be a big predictor of their success. It is not like a scholastic scholarship program, where we would be getting the cream of the crop. We are working with young people who received their education in jungle schools, which is probably minimal at best. Yet, these students are standing out in their communities. And the communities themselves take great pride in their students, bragging about them. Now that word of our program has spread, we are pulled aside in almost every village to hear about some deserving young person, from parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends. It is exciting, but of course limited by finances of the program.
We thank all the donors for their wonderful support. We are certainly making a dramatic difference in the lives of these young people and their communities.