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Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust

UK Charity Commission Registration Number 1120536. Egyptian Charity: Luxor Charity No.8 (2010)
 

Newsletter 40/41 - September/October 2010

Archived Newsletter 38/39- July/August 2010

 

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There have been many developments in Little Stars over the last two months but as Little Stars is all about children will have concentrate on the welfare, health and education of the children in Little Stars’ care in this issue of our Newsletter.

September sees the start of the school year in Egypt just as it does in Europe.  On the surface, education in Egypt is free but in reality it is far from without cost.  School uniforms, shoes and bags have to be bought and school books have to be paid for.  This can put a massive burden on poor families and means that many children never actually get to school to have an education.  Unfortunately in a patriarchal society this also means that female children are the last to be considered in educational terms. 

Nursery schools start a little later than the mainstream schools and this gave Little Stars time to select an appropriate uniform and engage suitable teachers for the new Nursery School which is next to the existing clinic. The uniform chosen was of a yellow shirt and either a maroon tunic (girls) or maroon trousers (boys).  Each child was bought a uniform, 2 sets of underwear, shoes, socks and a school bag at a total cost of approximately £30per child.  Due to the number of children involved there had to be several shopping trips. 

ShoppingShoppingShopping

Shopping was treated as a serious business by the children as many had never been out of their villages before.

Fun at the fairFun at the fairFun at the fair

Happiness is an hour at the fair and an ice cream.

Shopping for the uniforms was treated by the children, who were all scrubbed and wearing their best clothes for the occasion, as a very solemn and serious affair as many had never been out of their villages but were overjoyed when they could put their new clothes inside their new school bags.  A later trip to a playground put them all in festive mood. 

Nursery Schools in Egypt have approximately 70 children to a class with one teacher and perhaps an assistant.  Little Stars has opted for a class size of 30 children with 3 teachers, each with responsibility for 10 children, and an assistant who will help the children go to the toilet etc.   All the children were selected from very poor families but because of transport problems they all came from within a 5 mile radius of the school. As there are approximately 300 children in our sponsorship scheme with many of them being under 6 years old, (the age at which main stream schooling starts in Egypt) this means that a lot of children in the outlying villages could not attend the school as there was no means of getting them there. Demand for places at the nursery school is very high and we have been asked to increase the number of pupils to at least 50 but we have declined to do this as we feel that standards will suffer with greatly increased numbers.

To overcome this problem, Little Stars is now planning to open other nursery schools in the village of Haja Marise to the south of Luxor and another in Nage Birka to the north.  This will take the number of children we can start to educate up from 30 to 90 and will make a real difference.  However, at present this is only a plan as funds are not yet available.

 

Village childrenVillage childrenVillage children

 
New clothesVillage childrenNew clothes

New clothes being brought to the village caused great excitement.

There is a marked difference in the level of poverty between the families who live close to Qurna and those in the outlying villages.  While those living closer to town are still very poor by European standards they are not at the same level of dire deprivation that inflicts the villages away from the beaten tracks where there is no running water and no sanitation.  This can be seen clearly in the photographs shown above which were taken of the village children when we were there distributing new clothes for the Eid festival.  There was great excitement over the  new clothes as many were still wearing the clothes we distributed months ago. 

Nursery School children were not the only children to benefit from shopping trips as older children were also provided with new school uniforms.  These were mainly of a standard beige colour with the actual design of the uniform being chosen by the child.  Again children were bought uniforms, underwear, shoes, socks and bags.

 
New uniformsNew uniformsShopping for new uniforms
Older children were also taken shopping for their new school uniforms.
 

The Nursery School started the first week in October and was officially opened by Countess Carnarvon while the Countess was visiting Luxor with her husband the 8th Earl and their children.  Their visit caused great excitement and the children loved it especially as there was a feast of cake and fruit juice.  They also inspected the new dental surgery which had been completed since their last visit and the new training centre which a year ago was just an empty shell.  Mr. Ehab Gaddis the Honorary British Consul also came to the celebration and gave Lady Carnarvon a rare book which contained a photo of Lord Carnarvon’s great grandfather that was taken with Queen Elizabeth’s own camera.  We are extremely grateful to Lord and Lady Carnarvon for their patronage and continued support. Lord and Lady Carnarvon's home at Highclere Castle is becoming well known to everyone as it is being used as the setting for the very successful Downton Abbey television series.

 
Lord Carnatvon's visitLord Carnarvon's visitLady Carnarvon opened the new nursery school
 
Lord Carnarvon's visit to the nursery schoolThe nursery schoolLord and Lady Carnarvon's visit

The Nursery School was officially opened in October 2010 by the Countess of Carnarvon

 

We were delighted to receive a parcel of hand-knitted hats and blankets during October.  These were made by Linda Twamley, Angela Hunt and Helen France at Vision Support in Rhyl.  We would like to thank them for all their hard work and to thank Brian Robertson of Vision Support for arranging everything. The craftsmanship in the articles is superb and I know that a lot of children in Luxor will be delighted with them especially as winter is approaching and desert nights are very cold.  The items will be distributed in the villages at the beginning of December along with a batch of lovely blankets that were crocheted by Pat Udall in Derbyshire. More items are being knitted by Kathleen Carrington. Thank you everyone. 

 
BlanketsHatsBlankets
 

We would like to thank Patricia Birchall for her generous donation and for visiting the clinic last month while on holiday in Luxor and to thank Doctor Elaine Griffiths and Doctor Peter Doyle who attended the opening of the nursery school for their donation and offer to sponsor a family.  Support has been magnificent this year.  There is a worldwide recession and September is a hard month for families with children who are returning to school but donations still reached £6,000; which is sufficient to run the centres for a month, provide food parcels and to save towards the equipping the Training Centre and buying vehicles that we need.  Mr. Gaddis has offered support to Little Stars through the distribution of business cards for the Gaddis Hotel.  For any card that is marked Little Stars and is presented in the hotel restaurant, Mr. Gaddis will make a donation to Little Stars fund.

We are having some problems with the Customs Department in Egypt and are being charged duty on our imports to Egypt which should not be the case as we are a registered Egyptian charity.  However, we have been advised that this can be remedied by a visit to the Customs Officers at Cairo Airport where we can get the appropriate release declaration which will hopefully solve the problem. 

In our last newsletter we wrote about the houses that had fallen down.  Now we would like to show you the end result of one of the rebuilding projects – shown below.  The site was cleared after the collapse of the house then the walls were put up.  A roof was added.  This was a major addition to the house as the previous house had a straw roof which could not be used as living area.  The roof now is now solid and provides extra space. Electricity was added and concrete floors were put in during October.  The house is now complete and the family has been able to move back in.  The total cost of rebuilding was around £600 - £700 sterling.  Rebuilding has not yet started on the house in Tarif that fronts a Pharaonic tomb but it has been cleared and the family has moved in with neighbours.  Demolition of the existing building should start at the beginning of November.

 
 
The walls went upThe roof goes onRebuilt house

The walls went up and the roof went on and a brand new house is completed

 

We would like to welcome Sandie Couzins to the Luxor team.  Sandie is an honorary Egyptian living on the East  Bank and has sorted through all the clothes stored there and prepared an inventory of all the clothes and the food stocks held by Little Stars.  Sandie came out with us to deliver the clothes she had sorted out and to see what life is like in the villages so that she could get a better idea of the work that we do and even though she has lived in Luxor for more than a year, she was shocked at the degree of poverty that is prevalent

 
Sandie with the childrenSandie with a sponsored famly

Sandie is now looking after the East Bank Centre and came out with us to see life in the villages.   

As a charity, Little Stars has been invited to book places on the ASICS 10 km run through London in 2011 and for the following 4 years for a very special rate.  The minimum number of places we can book is 6 per year.  The entrance fee for runners is normally very high and we are being asked for 1/10th of the usual cost.  However, as we have to pay for all five years in one go, we are reluctant to waste funds unless we are sure that we have runners who would gather sponsorship funds for Little Stars.  If you would like a place in the 2011 race then please let us know.  When we have 6 volunteers we will make the booking.

In our next issue we hope to be able to give you full details of the new Training Centre.  The desks have been ordered and will soon be moved in, the white boards will be put in place and the notice boards put up.  The sewing machines have all been put together and installed in the sewing room and the staff room is being furnished.  Also next month we will be able to give an interim report on our half yearly accounts and an update on the rebuilding programme.

 
Thank you for your support.
 

 


With you we can do so much.
Without you we can do nothing.

 


 

 

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