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Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust

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

AUTUMN 2012

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    Welcome to our Autumn Newsletter.  Our earlier newsletters were only available to read through the newsletter link on our website but can now be downloaded as a PDF file to be read at leisure.  We have tried to cover all aspects of our work and developments over the last few months but if you have any queries about our work or would like more information about what Little Stars does, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Egypt

    Life in Egypt is beginning to improve in that there are now policemen back on the streets which gives increased security.  However, they are still in insufficient numbers and many need retraining to lose the habits learned under the old regime.  Sadly this lack of policing over the last eighteen months led to increased bag snatching in Luxor and sexual attacks on women throughout Egypt.  The new administration is trying to tackle the problems but it is an uphill struggle to eradicate the results of half a century of military rule.

    The major problems facing the Egyptian people, which are making life even harder than it already is, are the collapse of tourism which has still not yet recovered coupled with frequent disruptions in the supply of fuel, electricity and water.  Queues for diesel and petrol are literally hundreds of metres long and power and water cuts are occurring on a daily basis.  The lack of butane gas for cooking has led to approaching a tenfold increase in its cost which means that people cannot afford to buy it and have returned to cooking on open fires.  This is not easy in a country that is mainly desert and does not have a ready supply of wood for burning.  However, there is still great hope for the future.

    After several cancelled appointments, we eventually saw the Governor of Luxor to discuss his promise of land to build a permanent centre for the children including a much needed orphanage as there is not one of the west bank.  Children who are left alone are moved from the west bank to the east bank which villagers almost consider to be another world.  Sadly, we were not immediately successful as memories are short and promises get forgotten but a request for land is being formally prepared and will be submitted in the near future. 

    Shipment of Clothing from the UK

    The shipment of clothes that we sent from the UK in February was eventually released from bondage in August – six months after it was sent. Despite promises, the help we received from the Egyptian government was minimal and the six month delay with the paperwork meant that the storage costs were enormous.  The agent kindly waved many of the expenses incurred but the Government insisted that we pay nearly £1,500 in duty from which we are exempt.  It appears that the system requires us to pay the sum and then claim it back, which we did immediately. 

    We also had to pay 15% tax which they said was separate to duty.  This would also apply in the UK as charities are not exempt from VAT so we are not complaining about this.  However, we are complaining that they have not yet returned the £1,500 that they are still holding on to.  We have been promised that it will be repaid to us in November but being cynical I am now worried about whether this will be November this year or next year. 

    We had hoped that all these problems would be ironed out with the change of Government but things move slowly here.  We have another large consignment of clothing in the UK ready for shipment but we will not send it until the funds held by the Government are returned to us.

    Distribution of Clothing

    It is traditional for children to have new clothing at Eid and in the past we have usually loaded the van with clothes and taken them out to the villages but this year we tried something different.  At the end of Ramadan all the clothing from the east bank distribution centre was brought over to the west bank and put in the Nursery School which was empty as the children were still on holiday.  The bus was then sent out to the villages to collect the children and bring them to get new clothes.  It was a very successful exercise and all of our stock was completely cleared.  There is sufficient clothing in the consignment released from Alexandria to restock all the rails. 

New clothesNew clothesNew clothes
The children were brought from the villages to be fitted with new clothes
Shipment from AlexRefilling the racksWedding Dresses
The empty racks in the east bank centre will now be refilled. Wedding dresses donated by Lynne Salvage.
 
    We have been given a rail of beautiful wedding dresses by Lynne Salvage that we can lend to the village girls so that they can look wonderful at their own weddings.  Lynne also spent time in the sewing class teaching the girls how to make the dresses; a skill which will be useful in their villages.

    Building Programme

    With great thanks to the magnificent efforts of Claire Murphy’s Espirit Yoga Group and several fantastic donations from Sylvia Kennedy we have been able to start quite a large home upgrading programme which will involve the complete rebuilding of three houses north of the clinic and the renovation of another six houses to the south.    We have also been able to replace a roof for a family in Haja Marise with funds received from Jacqui Taliesin el Masry from the sale of pendants that she made and sold on behalf of Little Stars.  Because we use the same team of builders for all our building and repairs, the work is being carried out successively rather than concurrently.  We are very grateful to everyone concerned and to all our supporters.

 
The old houseDemolitionNew bricks
The house was stripped and demolished.  The new white bricks were delivered and rebuilding began
The new houseThe yardThe new house is much bigger

The new house is much larger than the old house and has a rear kitchen and shower room with proper drainage.

 

The workmen started with the demolition and rebuilding of a house in Nage Birka which was home to a widow and her children.  The house had two small mud brick rooms with dirt floors and being on the point of collapse, was beyond repair.  It was also at least two feet below street level which made it damp and unhealthy.  Within days of our decision to rebuild the house, it was stripped of its windows and doors and demolition began with the rubble being used to build up the floor level.  When the house as handed back to the owners she said “All my life I have dreamed of having a home like this and now that dream has come true”.

Training Centre

There are now three separate subjects being taught in the Training Centre with 15 women and girls leaning how to read.  The IT class is also full but we are limited in the number of students we can take because we only have six fully equipped IT stations.  All our IT stations now have an Internet connection

 
Literacy teacherHappy studentsFrom the sewing classes
.The new literacy teacher is enjoying her task and the students are a cheerful group. The sewing group are progressing
All the classes are certificated and attendance is required for three afternoons per week for three months.  Also, all classes are without charge and all text books are provided. 

We have taken on a new member of staff in the sewing class and now are able to teach embroidery as well as basic dressmaking.  Our new staff member is totally deaf and her skill is giving hope to disabled students. 

 
Made in the sewing classDonated MaterialMade in the sewing class

These lovely little dresses were made by the sewing group from material donated to Little Stars in the UK

 
Nursery School
 

A new year has started in the Nursery School and we have managed to increase the number of children we can take.  There are now 40 children on the register between the age of 4 and 6 years old.  Like the Training Centre the Nursery School is fully accredited and follows the Egyptian national curriculum using the standard textbooks.  However, as the school has small groups and is better equipped than other schools, places are greatly sought after but all places are reserved for poor children in the area and are offered without charges of any kind.

Due to rising prices, the cost of the uniforms jumped considerably this year and eventually it cost over £1,250 to kit out the group but regardless of their circumstance all the children were provided with uniform, underwear, shoes, a school bag and all the relevant little text books. 

 
Nursery SchoolNursery SchoolNursery School
All the children in the school have uniforms books, shoes and bags.
Nursery SchoolNursery schoolNursery School
The children loved the filled pencil cases that were sent by Ron and Tracy Cox
 
Last year we received a big box of Nursery School items from Ron and Tracey Cox. Inside the box was a full set of pencil cases each containing stationery items, yoyos, whistles, medallions and stuffed toys; everything that would please a child.  The cases sat in storage in the UK for several months while we waited for the shipment to be sent to Alexandria and then they sat in Alexandria for months as we tried to clear all the paperwork.  They then had to wait in storage in Luxor until we could go through the shipment.  Now we are delighted to say that after a long and arduous journey the cases reached their destination and the children were totally delighted with them.

Sponsored Families

Over the past year, due to the economic climate in the UK with people facing redundancy and financial hardship we have lost some of our family sponsors.  New family sponsors have been found but more are needed.  The commitment is £10.00 sterling per month which is used to supplement the assistance already given by Little Stars.  General sponsors are also needed for the clinic, training centre and nursery school for which donations of any size are gratefully received.

During the autumn we were able to visit almost all of our sponsored families to reassess their situation.  We have a long list of applicants but due to staff limitations we were not able to extend the programme beyond sixty families.  With the reassessment it became evident that the circumstances of the several of the families had changed and that they no longer really needed our help.  These families have been removed from the programme and have been replaced by new families who had applied to Little Stars for help. 

 
Family needing sponsorshipFamily needing sponsorshipFamily needing sponsorship
New families have been added to our sponsorship programme
 
Sponsors have already been found for some of these families but not for all of them.  If you feel that you could sponsor a family please contact us.  Egypt is still in crisis and life in the villages is very hard.

The Future

Our need for a min-bus is becoming more and more desperate for getting people to and from the clinic, the nursery school and the training centre but as soon as we get close to raising the funds something else comes along to make demands on it.

We still have the £5,000 donation we were given by a European Foundation towards the cost of the mini-bus intact in its own account and had saved another £10,000 sterling to add to it but then we were faced with the problem of finding alternative accommodation for the centre as our lease on the clinic is now complete and we do not wish to renew it.    

When we took over our section of the building we are in we were the only occupants and the children were safe.  Now another four stories have been added to the building and the situation has changed.  We no longer consider it a good environment for children.  Hopes of acquiring land from the Egyptian Government on which we could build have not been entirely dashed but it will take years for the proposal to be considered.  Consequently we are moving to a new site just a few hundred metres away from where we are now.  On the new site we will have our own secure entrance and a garden area where the children can play.  The drawback was that we had had to pay two years rent in advance to secure the property which would cover 6 flats and amounts to some £14,000 and so sadly, once again the minibus has to wait.

Fund Raising

Fund Raising is never easy but our efforts are ceaseless and we are grateful to everyone who helps raise funds to make life easier for the desperately needy children of Luxor’s west bank.  We would like to thank Axel of JJs in Karnak and Col Coleman for their idea of raising funds through the sale of Little Stars T shirts which would then be given directly to the children who need them the most.  The T shirts come in all sizes and are embroidered with the Little Stars’ logo.  All that is required to buy a shirt for a child is a donation of £2.50 through Paypal, cheque or credit transfer.  This is a small sum but will go a long way to financing our work. 

 
T Shirts for Fund Raising
The T Shirts embroidered for Little Stars by Axel and Col – please consider buying one for a child.
 

We are delighted that Deeping Secondary School in Lincolnshire has chosen Little Stars to be one of the beneficiaries of their fund raising through the Great Eastern Run in 2013.  We are very grateful to Paula Hawkridge the Head of Eliot House who is arranging this.

If you have an idea for fund raising then please let us know.  Without your support we can achieve nothing. 

 
 

Thank You

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

 
     

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