Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust
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Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust

UK Charity Commission Registration Number 1120536

Newsletter 31/32 - December 2009/January 2010

Archived Newsletter - October/November 2009

December and January were again busy months for Little Stars as new families were sponsored and plans were made for the expansion of the clinic and the development of the sponsorship scheme which has been growing rapidly.  We were again hit by a further fall in the value of the pound but this was partly offset by some large discounts that we are able to negotiate from suppliers due to the large size of the orders we made for vital equipment. 

It is impossible to find specialist medical and dental equipment in Luxor and a trip to Cairo became necessary to get the items we needed for the dental surgery.  Funds were in place but first we had to identify exactly what we needed and then find a suitable supplier. This was made easier with the help of our new dentist who had recently set up and equipped a surgery of his own and is overseeing the work in the clinic.  He had a list of equipment to hand. 

As we are a charity, the supplier in Cairo gave us very favourable terms and the items were shipped down to Luxor in a large wooden crate the next day.  The cost was approximately £3,000 sterling which was covered by the grant we received from the British Embassy.  The floor of the room to be used for the surgery has to be dug up to accommodate plumbing and drainage for the dental chair. The installation of the chair is being done by the supplier.


Dental EquipmentDental EquipmentDental Surgery

.The equipment for the new dental  surgery, which  is bright and cheerful, was delivered in a large wooden crate.

Fortunately most of the suppliers of all types of medical equipment are situated in the same area of Cairo so we were able to get a new stock of wheelchairs at the same time.   Some of the physiotherapy equipment we ordered such as wheelchairs and standing frames had been specifically sponsored by our supporters.

While in Cairo we paid a visit to ToysRUs to get items for the new Hadana.  We had looked around Luxor’s toy shops but there was little on offer that would prove sufficiently stimulating or robust although we were able to buy suitable tables and chairs in a hardware shop.  As the good quality toys (Little Tikes and Megabloks) In ToysRus were all imported, they were very expensive compared with UK prices so we were limited in what we could buy.  However, we have chosen a good range of interactive toys for both boys and girls that will wear well and educate as well as entertain. 


PLay HouseBricksKitchenTrain Set

All the play equipment had to be bought in Cairo and was more expensive than in the UK

Hadana FurnitureHadana EquipmentHadan Equipment

The tables, chairs and storage boxes were all bought in Luxor.


We are also considering which children will attend the Hadana.  Children in Egypt can start school at 6 years of age, although many children in the villages (particularly girls) never attend school, so it appears logical to initially take children into the Hadana from the age of 5 years.  As a European style nursery school is a learning experience for all concerned, we decided to run it for only four hours per day and allow visitors to the clinic to use it for the rest of the time. 

Transport is a problem at the moment as our hired vehicle does not have seat belts or a rear door so it is too dangerous to use for the transportation of children but this will hopefully be solved with the purchase of a new vehicle.  The villages we cover are widespread and it would not be possible to visit them all to collect children on a daily basis.  A solution would be to collect children from the southern villages on three days of each week and then children from the northern villages on the other three days that the centre is open.  Local children, accompanied by older siblings, will be able to make their own way to the centre on a daily basis.  Again each group could attend for three days each so that we are able to take in more children.  The alternative is to have big classes which we are trying to avoid as it is counterproductive in a learning environment.

Last summer, a nine-year old boy named Benji from Thorverton Primary School in Devon, did a long-distance sponsored bicycle ride to help the poor children in Egypt after seeing their plight when he was on holiday in Cairo.  In December, the school held a nativity play and collected £118.88 from those attending.  We are delighted that Little Stars has been chosen by the school to receive the money.  It will be spent on story books, stationery, paints and painting equipment for the nursery school.  We are very grateful to the parents, school governors and admin, its Headmistress Tania Beard, and all its pupils for their generosity.  We will keep them posted on the progression of the Hadana and the children who attend it. The photos below show the pupils of Thorverton Primary at their 2009 Christmas Dinner celebrations.


At long last the blankets that we ordered from Cairo nearly two months ago arrived on a big lorry and were stored in our East Bank Centre.  Although the nights are already cold and we could have done with the blankets earlier they were still needed and are being distributed in the first week of February which is when the next batch of food parcels will be delivered to our families.  In order to get a fair distribution of blankets across the families the decision was made to give families the same number of blankets as they have chickens.  Double the quantity of blankets needed were ordered and delivered (which may have been why they were so late in arriving) so we are well prepared for next winter with the blankets already in our store.  The blankets are very large and much softer than last year.

BlanketsNasserNew Blankets
The blankets are big and soft and were delivered in large bales.  Nasser will distribute them at the beginning or February
Due to the extreme generosity of one of our sponsors, Mrs. Lynne Weyman, who gave Little Stars a substantial donation in memory of her mother and gave a grant to two families to upgrade their home, we were able to do further repairs to homes and start planning the training workshops.  In two homes, mud floors are being replaced with cement, roofs are being repaired, new furniture ordered and in one home a toilet is being installed.  This is not possible in the other home as there is no water supply.  The in memoriam donation has been given specifically to start the training workshops for women and we are at present negotiating the rental of space above the clinic for this purpose.
Mud floors are being replaced with cement and a toilet is being added in the above yard.  Sand has been tipped ready for use
    At the beginning of December Philippa Thomas, one of our valued volunteers, accompanied the staff delivering the food parcels and wrote the following report:-

    “When I went to Haja Marise for the first time back in September this year, I visited a family who had a small baby that had, to all intents and purposes, given up. Its face was blank, uttered no sounds and made no movements. Connie managed to get some formula baby milk to the family that day but we did not hold out much hope. We later heard that the family did not even know how to make the formula up and were using the water from the well without boiling it.
    However, when I went back to visit the family on Dec 2nd and I am extremely pleased to report that the little baby is thriving. Thanks to Little Stars and the motivated team members that work from the clinic
    on the West Bank in Luxor, the mother not only gets a regular supply of formula for the baby but has been taught how to make up the formula with boiled water, how to feed her baby and also how to interact with it. As a result, it was screaming healthily, kicking its little legs with great gusto and getting the attention it needed. I am looking forward to seeing the family in the New Year to see the baby's progress.
    The baby has a long way to go to catch up and is still very small and fragile for its age. However, I think that we can be quietly optimistic that this will be a success story” – Philippa Thomas December 2009.

    We were able to revisit the baby in January and were delighted to see that it was still thriving and sitting up on its mother’s arm.  The mother, who appears to have cataracts and limited sight, had a severe eye infection and was taken to Qurna hospital for treatment.  This is one of the families chosen to benefit from the grant and is having cement floors and a new roof in her house to replace the old palm fronds.

    The little girl with the skin infection that we have been fighting for the last six months was again re-infected after being clear for five weeks and had quite substantial lesions on her face.  Her mother is repeatedly given instructions on how to care for her daughter to prevent the constant re-infection but it seems to have little effect.  The girl was again taken to the hospital for treatment.  Despite the constant irritation which comes with such skin infections, she is a cheerful little girl however the possibility of her passing it on to her baby sister is high.

Thriving BabySkin problem has returnedHappy kids
The baby is thriving but the little girl’s skin infection has returned.  Village children love to pose
    During December and January, eight new families were added to our sponsorship programme and all but one of them has a waiting sponsor.  The families came from the villages of Haja Marise to the south of the clinic and El Genina which is close by.  Living conditions vary widely from village to village with those close to the desert being the most deprived.  However, although the poverty might be relative and some worse off than others, all of our families are in desperate need.  Unfortunately the bed-ridden father in the first photo died a week after the photo was taken.

Family for sponsorshipFamily for SponsorshipFamily for Sponsorship

New families.   The smoke which clouds the central photo is from an open cooking fire.


We are pleased to take sponsors to visit their families whenever it is possible and several visiting sponsors have been able to meet their families over the last few months.  However, our guidelines only allow sponsors to visit their own family and not others.  This is done as part of a child protection policy and to protect the privacy of the families concerned.  As much as we would like all our sponsors to meet their families when they are in Luxor it is not always possible because unfortunately there are communication difficulties as we do not have English speaking staff.  Also, unless there is someone available who knows where the family lives then a visit just cannot be arranged.  In addition, there is the problem of police check-points which have to be negotiated when travelling outside the city’s environs.  These necessitate the presence of someone in authority who can vouch for the visitor and take responsibility for their safety. 

It can be disappointing to have gathered together items for the children and then not to be able to present them in person, but we can assure you that all the items you bring to Luxor will reach the children and will be fairly distributed by our staff according to your wishes.  Our Chairman is pleased to accompany sponsors when she is in Luxor but at other times we ask for your understanding of the problems and apologise for the disappointment that not seeing your family might bring.  You are welcome to visit the west bank clinic during its opening hours.   Our Distribution Centre is on the East Bank but can be difficult to find so arrangements have been made with the Lantern Restaurant for items to be left there.  The owners Debbie and Nasser will ensure that they reach us safely. 

We are still in desperate need of children’s clothing in larger sizes.  We have sufficient baby clothes but are still short of clothes for older children of both sexes.  Items for the clinic and the nursery school are also greatly appreciated.  Heavy exercise books can be bought locally very cheaply so it is more advantageous to concentrate on bringing out lighter items if you can.



Thank you for your support.


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