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Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust

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

SPRING 2013

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Welcome to our Spring Newsletter which shows what we have been doing over the early part of the year.  The newsletter is also available as a PDF download that you can read at leisure.  If you have any queries about our work or have would like more information about what Little Stars does, then please do not hesitate to contact us on contact@littlestars-luxor.org.

Egypt in General

In terms of tourism, Luxor is still deadly quiet and, as the local economy is tourist dependent, this is continuing to cause great hardship.  During the Spring of 2013, there was continued violence in Cairo and its surrounding districts which has again had a detrimental effect on tourism in Luxor as holidaymakers relate it to the entire country and stay away.  There is growing discontent with the new government, which is thought to be fermented by the old regime but instead of challenging things through the ballot box in a democratic manner the dissenters appear to want to replace the president through demonstrations that often become violent.  This is doing little to help the most vulnerable people.  Although there are police back on the streets they are still largely ineffective and there have been outbreaks of vigilante action which have led to loss of life.  Luxor has not escaped similar actions.

The whole pattern of tourism in Upper Egypt appears to have undergone a shift.  Tourists are coming into Luxor but instead of staying in the town they take a week’s Nile cruise before travelling on to the Red Sea resorts.  This means that they are only staying in Luxor for one or two days to see the temples and tombs and spend little money in local restaurants, shops or hotels.  Many of the hotels had a maximum occupancy rate of only 15-20% over the winter, which is high season, whereas just a few years ago they were full.  The hotels, shops and restaurants have dismissed most of their staff and, as the wages that would have been earned are not there to filter through society, many more families are now in dire need.

Whatever industry is brought to Luxor to replace the lost tourist trade, it needs to be labour intensive to redress the balance and create the jobs for unskilled workers that are desperately needed.  Until then the demands on Little Stars will become greater and the situation of its children will get increasingly desperate as poverty deepens.

The Centre

As with most building projects, there are always unforeseen delays and we had hoped to be in the new centre by the beginning of May but at that time although the wiring, plumbing and plastering were complete, the floors still had to be laid and the doors and windows put in place. 

The increase in space given by the new centre will be welcomed especially in the Nursery School which will have three classrooms instead of one.  The staff in all sections of the centre are very excited about the move.  Relocating the dental surgery involved a lot of extra plumbing work but is now complete and a specialist is coming down from Cairo (after the floors have been laid) to move and reconnect the dental chair.  The additional features required for the various sections added cost to the move but this was covered with an unexpected donation from Mrs Sylvia Kennedy and did not deplete our funds.  We are very grateful for her support.

The building for the ne centreThe new centre is progressing
The progression of the new centre which will retain its old name
The large gardenThe garden still needs levelling
The progression of the garden area - it still has to be levelled and cleared of stones.

The centre is being rented not bought as we do not have sufficient funds for that but we have a nine year fixed-rent lease at the same rate we are paying at the moment even though the premises are much larger than the present ones.  We also have a nine year lease on the garden so that it cannot be built upon.  

We are busy planning the playground area.  At present we have 375 sq metres of land which has been cleared of building materials but still needs to be levelled and cleared of stones before we can start planting flowers and preparing the playground section of the garden.  We also aim to create an outdoor teaching area that can be used when the weather allows and the heat is not too excessive.  There is also a possibility of another 175 sq. meters being added in the near future. 

Two years rent has been paid in advance on all parts of the centre which has tied up a lot of our funds but means that we have no further rent to find until two years after we move in.  Reserves can hopefully be rebuilt at that time and sufficient funds found to buy the minibus that we need to get children and women to and from the centre. 

The Training Centre

The sewing classes and the computer classes are still extremely popular and we have a waiting list for places. The literacy class is technically full but because of family pressures and lack of transport, attendance has not been as good as we hoped.  When we move, further classes will be added in other skills such as soap and paper making and card making.

 
The sewing groupClothes made by the sewing groupThe sewing classes
The women in the Training Centre enjoy their time there and make some lovely clothes.
 
In April, another batch of basic sewing machines was distributed to women who had finished a course at the centre.  These were very gratefully received.  Each recipient signed or made her mark to say that the machine had been provided by Little Stars and could not be sold or given away. 
 
Excitement at receiving a new sewing machine Zps for the sewing groupEmbroidery materials for the sewing group
The new sewing machines caused excitmenet. Parcels of zips and embroidery threads were received for the centre.
 
We were fortunate to receive a large parcel of zips of various sizes from Sarah Cotterill that will be used in the centre along with a batch of bag patterns and another of embroidery threads sent to us by Mary Crowther.  We are very grateful to all supporters for help they give us.

Proposed Workshops

Bags made by the groupBags made by the groupBags made by the group
Prototype bags made by the sewing group
Although the lease on the old clinic has expired and the lease on the Nursery School will soon run out, there are still more than two years left on the Training Centre lease and as we invested a lot of money in its completion we are holding on to it.  Consequently, we are moving the Training Centre to the new centre but we are going to use the old premises as women’s workshops. 
 

The bags shown above have been made by the women in the Training Centre and we hope they we will be able to sell them in a proposed Fair Trade shop to give employment to the women and help Little Stars with its work.  When funds allow we will get soap and paper-making equipment and also set up card-making workshops for women who have completed courses.  

Nursery School

 
Children from the nursery schoolYoung supportersChildren from the nursery school
The children from the nursery and our youngest UK supporters wearing their Little Stars T shirts.

Our Little Stars T Shirts have been well received and children in both the UK and the Nursery School loved them.  Another batch has been sent to Col Coleman and Axel Langer for embroidery.

The new Nursery School will not only allow an outside play area but also a work room for painting and other activities.  Batches of powder paints and paint brushes have already been taken to Luxor.  Painting aprons will be made for the children by students in the Training Centre.

 

Building Programme

Due to the demands on the new centre our building programme has slowed but we have been able to buy a new cooker and lay a new floor for a family at Rayana thanks to a donation from Dr Diane Johnson and to supply fridges to several needy families in the Qurna area.  We also made a £500 donation towards the rebuilding of a collapsed house that was being built by the local community for a widow with five children.  As a special treat we bought a second-hand television for a family with a disabled daughter in Haja Marise. 

 
A new televisionA new cookerA new fridge
The joy of your first TV and the even greater joy of a new cooker or fridge.
 
We still have three houses that are in a dangerous state and in desperate need of rebuilding and two further families that are in need of rehousing. This will be done as soon as funds allow.  Recently a mud-brick house in Qurna collapsed killing two of its inhabitants.  It was not one of our houses but it did bring to our attention the urgency of the situation.
 

Fund Raising

We would like to thank Betina Salzer from Germany who came to Luxor in March and brought with her a massive amount of things for the children in the clinic and the Nursery School including clothes, tooth brushes and a small size wheelchair.  Thanks are also offered to Lynne Weyman who sent us a huge batch of items including clothes, play things and child-size tubes of toothpaste.

 
Betina brough many things from GermanyToothbrushes from GermanyFor the nursery school children
Betina Salzer brought a wheel chair and many other things for the children. Lynne Weyman also sent a huge parcel.
 
We are always in need of funds to continue our work and if you can think of any fund raising projects that would help the children then please contact us.

Distribution of Clothes

All the clothes that were held in the distribution centre were distributed in March and now need to be replaced with the stock that we are holding in the UK.  We have been trying to get clearance for the new shipment but it is not easy to get paperwork from Government Departments at the present time.  However, we shall press the matter as there are now more than 65 boxes of clothes in the lock-up and we are rapidly running out of space.

End of Year Accounts

Little Stars accounting year finishes on the 29th May and will see the end of our 6th year of operation.  It is amazing to think what has been achieved in this time.  The accounts when completed first have to be approved by the Trustees and then sent for external approval before they are submitted to the Charity Commission for final approval and uploading onto their site.  When this process is completed we will upload the accounts onto our own website for public scrutiny.  The accounts in Egypt are all in Arabic and are thoroughly checked every few months by the Egyptian Charity Commission.  They are maintained by the Centre Manager and are completely in order.

 

Thank You

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

 

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