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Little Stars - Luxor Children's Trust

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

SUMMER 2013

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Welcome to our Summer Newsletter which shows what we have been doing over the summer months.  The newsletter is also available as a PDF download that you can read at leisure.  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 on contact@littlestars-luxor.org.

General Information

In June 2013, we received permission from the Charity Commission to offer small grants towards the cost of equipment for disabled children in the UK as well as in Egypt.  This has arisen due to the growing number of requests we have received for assistance from donors who have disabled children of their own and have seen or spoken to our fund raisers.  As more than 60% of our funding comes through this source we considered it wise to devote a small percentage of that sum to helping where we could.  Our remit now covers the whole of Egypt and the whole of the UK and not just Luxor. 

A further extension of our work now involves assisting another charity that works with the street children in Giza in Cairo by granting a small monthly sum to further their work.  This will be done as soon as this charity is on an official footing.  We have always planned a centre to assist street children in Luxor but our funds have not so far allowed us to create this.  The situation with Cairo’s street children is far more desperate as there are simply so many of them. It is estimated that there are over one million street children in Egypt.

 
children waiting for sweetsvillage children waiting for sweetsvillage children waiting for sweets
Children wait for their sweets.  We give sweets to the all the children not just those in our families.
 
Egypt in General

Egypt underwent a military coup at the end of June 2013 which ultimately led to the deaths of more than a thousand people; more than 600 of them including women and children in one day in Rabaa Square in Giza south of Cairo.  There were anti-coup demonstrations throughout the country and in Luxor a hotel and a number of shops were burned out.  This unrest frightened away even the few tourists that were venturing to Luxor.

In September an Egyptian court declared that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is Egypt’s largest charitable organisation, was illegal and made it a criminal offence to help them in any way.  This is a very sad situation for Upper Egypt as the Brotherhood which acts as an umbrella for many other charities is just about the only group in Luxor, alongside Little Stars, aiding those who live in abject poverty.  Implementation of the decision has been postponed.  Little Stars is completely free from any affiliations and operates independently of others, but recognition has to be given to the magnificent work that these groups have done and the desperate hole in provision that will arise if they are barred from operating.

However, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, the conflict between the Military and groups representing the deposed president has made life in Egypt even harder for many people than it was before.  Tourism has now totally collapsed with only 70 tourists in total reported to be in Luxor at the beginning of September.  Hotels have closed, laying-off their unskilled staff which would have provided a small wage for some of our families.  If the Brotherhood is stopped from operating then the demands on Little Stars will be far too high for us to fulfil but we will do our best.

Throughout the summer, we delivered the food parcels to our sponsored families as normal.  Ramadan fell in the heat of July and all our sponsored families were given extra supplies of the traditional Ramadan breaking fast foods. 

 
there is excitement when the van turns upChildren from Seul Nage BirkaThe van is always welcomed
There is always excitement when the van comes into a village.
 

Everyone has been very courageous, just as they were in 2011 when the first revolution took place, although we did have to close the centre again for a few weeks when the situation in Cairo was at its worst and it was unsafe to ask our staff to leave their homes.  The situation in the outer villages is still very volatile and strangers are treated with great suspicion.  There is a surfeit of guns and settling of old scores is rife.  The police are back on the streets in great numbers but fear of arrest and imprisonment for criminality has diminished as the police concentrate on chasing opponents of the new regime so robberies and murders have increased alarmingly throughout the country. 

It is difficult to assess what the future will bring but we will maintain our work as best we can and do our best to offer assistance to whoever needs it.

 

The Centre

The unrest in Egypt has put completion of the new centre even further behind but the Nursery School area was completed at the end of July and it is anticipated that the Clinic area will be fully ready for occupation at the beginning of October.  The delay there is that is has to first be inspected by the Egyptian Charity Commission and Health Ministry to make sure that it meets Egyptian standards.  The floor has been laid in the Training Centre but the walls have still has to be painted.  Work on creating the garden and playground area is also behind schedule as the builders have been using the garden as access for the delivery of building materials and the ground has constantly been churned up.  Also, we have been unable to get up to Cairo to buy the playground equipment as the situation there is too difficult and there are no trains running. 

 
The building for the ne centreThe new centre is progressingThe completed centre
Progress has been slow with the building of the new centre but it is now almost complete.
    Work on the Distribution Centre part of the complex will be completed by the end of September and we can start moving items over from the East Bank.  Hopefully everything will then be under one roof and we can stop paying rent on the old premises.
    The Clinic
     
    We will have to close the clinic for a week when we move and have to bring a specialist down from Cairo to move the dental chair as it has to be plumbed in.  The pipework for this has already been completed.  There are another four large rooms in the clinic in addition to the dental surgery which are ready for use and the air-conditioning units can be moved soon as the days are getting a bit cooler and they will not be missed in the old clinic.
     
    Nursery School
     
    There is little to report on the Nursery School as it has been closed for the summer holidays.  State schools get four months holiday in the summer and we are considering what we can do with the space in the future while the children are away from school.  It is a terrible waste of resources to have the premises empty and unused for such a long period.  It will not raise costs as our teachers are at present being paid during their absence.  We are thinking of either having a summer play school for local children or for applying for consent to the relevant government departments to shorten the holiday by two months
     
    the classrooms are light and airythe classroom has access to natural lightPlay house being made by local carpenter
      The classrooms are big, bright and airy.  A local carpenter is making play houses for the children.
     

    Forty-five children have already been given places at the Nursery School (5 more than last year and 15 more than in the year before); all of whom have been given new uniforms, shoes and underwear and the appropriate school books and bags to carry them in.

    Although we have not been able to purchase the playground equipment we have been able to commission a local carpenter to make three wooden play houses for the children using a photo taken of play houses in B&Q DIY Stores.  We are able to get all three wooden houses made for the price we had to pay for the one Little Tykes house that we bought in Cairo several years ago. 

     
    The Training Centre
     
    The Training Centre is still a great success and there is a long waiting list for the computer classes as we are the only group offering them without charge.  The sewing classes also have a waiting list and twelve women are waiting to receive their new sewing machine which we buy in Cairo.  We will get them as soon as the situation there improves.  When it moves to the new premises we may be able to add more classes.  One of the proposed ideas is for a class in animal care for widows (we could ask ACE to recommend a teacher) where we may be able to start a small goat rearing enterprise for those who complete the course.  This would be easier and less costly than breeding and rearing buffalos.  
     
    Building Programme
     
    We still have three houses which are in urgent need of rebuilding but as yet do not have the funds to carry out this work instead we have concentrated on making life easier in some of the other homes by laying floors, painting walls and putting in ceiling fans to combat the summer heat.  We need to buy ten new mattresses but for some reason the price has rocketed and this is proving a problem.  Our main task as a matter of urgency is to pipe water into the home of a widow (her husband recently died of cancer) and her eight children whose only access to water is from a hand pump in their yard.
     
    A widow who has 8 children to care for.The family's only source of waterVillage women who have just been given ceiling fans.
    For this family with 8 children this dirty pump is their only water supply.  Village women have been given ceiling fans to help keep their babies cool in the intense heat
     
    Although care of the elderly is beyond our remit we have been assisting an old man in Nage Birka through direct contributions towards his care from our supporters so that it does not affect the funds donated for children in any way.  The old man lives alone in a hut at the edge of the village and during the summer he was taken to the clinic, bathed and given new clothes.
     
    The home os an elderly village manThis man lives alone in a grass hutWinter coat and jumper
    This grass hut is lived in by an elderly man without any family.  He has been bought a warm coat and jumper.
     
    We have had a specific donation to buy him a coat and jumper to keep him warm during the winter.  We are also trying to raise the funds to build him a small one room home with a long-drop toilet so that he has somewhere solid to sleep rather than the hut which has served as his home for many years.. 
     
    Fund Raising
     

    We are pleased to report that Sweet Dreams is now back in operation and is donating £1,000 each month to Little Stars.  This money will be put in a deposit account towards the cost of the minibus that is still desperately needed.  We wish to thank all our fund raisers and supporters for the superb effort that they made during the last financial year and for the excellent start to this year. We would also like to thank Janet Hall for her £1,000 donation towards the minibus fund.  The donation can be gift aided which adds another £250 to the fund.

    The Luxor Lexicon is now being sold through Amazon in paperback (post free in UK) for £6.99 and Kindle format for £2.99 with all proceeds going to Little Stars for the care of the children. If you have visited Luxor or may be visiting in the future then this is the book for you.  Reviews have been excellent

     
    Luxor Lexicon

     

     

    Luxor Lexicon on Amazon

     
    Distribution of Clothes
     
    We now have more than 70 boxes of clothes and equipment in the UK ready to be shipped to Alexandria but we are not able to send them at present as there are still no trains running from north to south and movement of people and goods is too difficult so we have had to take over a second storage unit.    If we got them as far as Alexandria we would then be faced with trying to get clearance for them from a Government Department that appears to have ceased to operate and would have to bring them down to Luxor through the middle part of Egypt where there are still on-going military operations.  Another 12 sacks of clothes are being sent to us from Derbyshire and our knitters are busy making jumpers for the winter.
     
    Coats ready for shipmentThis little girl needs crutchesNew clothes are needed
    The children are in desperate need of clothes and equipment that is still to be shipped to Egypt.
     
    As soon as the situation improves we will send the items to Egypt as the children are in desperate need of them.  In the meantime clothes, bandages, etc. are being taken to Luxor in supporters’ luggage.
     
    Annual Accounts
     

    Little Stars accounting year finished on the 29th May and our accounts were sent for external examination and approval which was granted in July.  The accounts were then submitted to the Charity Commission, along with the Trustees Report, for examination and uploading onto their site.  Copies are available on our website.   

    2012-13 was out best year ever in terms of donations and we are extremely grateful to all our supporters for their extreme generosity; donations totalled £84,000.  As reported in our previous newsletters, Little Stars managed to stretch the budget to extreme lengths.  Health, Education and the Relief of Poverty remained the main areas of spending with Relief of Poverty (including food parcels, rebuilding, upgrading housing etc) amounted to £34,000.  Heath Care which includes the cost of rent, wages and medicines amounted to £18,000.   Education which includes the cost of the Nursery School and the Training Centre, totalled £15,000.  Expenses remained as low as ever with only 11% being taken up in the cost of raising funds, telephone, postage, UK travel etc.)  This is possible as we still have no European staff or office rent.   

     
    Village children in Haja Marise
    Children of the village of Haja Marise
     

    Thank You

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

     

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