Carroll Airey has just returned from a five week trip to Nicaragua, a trip she described as very successful.
She was heading down to see how her various projects funded by her Take a Stand for Kids charity funds.
“It was to go over the objectives for all the projects, to see if what we wrote last year … to see what worked and what didn’t, as we proposed them.
“That was a good thing, because some of the things that we, as a team, didn’t work well,” Airey added.
One of those was their scholarship program. Those who receive a scholarship are required to do a certain number of volunteer hours, hours that were simply unobtainable in the reality, Airey said.
Had they sent off the proposals to the Canadian Revenue Agency as is, their charity status may have been granted on a system that wasn’t working.
This way, they can shift that, and other small things, so their application is more tested and true.
TASK supports seven projects throughout Nicaragua. One is the scholarship program, but there’s also a nutrition program for children whose weight to height ratio isn’t considered in the “normal” range for development.
They’ve also set up a preschool for children aged three and four that was certified by the local government last year.
“That was amazing, I didn’t even know that was available, I just wanted a place for those who come to the nutrition program could come to learn some skills, and to play,” Airey said. “There was nothing, not a thing to play with, they didn’t have a toy.”
That was how the preschool began, and now people who receive a scholarship are volunteering at the preschool, keeping it going and running smoothly as well.
The local director of care has said he would help them however they can as well, Airey said.
There’s also a maternity house that brings in expecting mothers from the outskirts of Santa Rosa to live in the care of midwives for the last month of their pregnancy. This, Airey said, results in healthier births with less fatalities for both the mother and the child. It works in conjunction with their health promoter, who goes out to these small rural communities to discuss maternal health.
TASK also funds a children’s library in conjunction with the University of B.C., who contacted Airey two years ago to help. On this trip, her first purchase was 50 children’s books for the library.
Also provided will be a trainer to teach the teachers and students how to use the books from Libros Para Niños. Books make a huge difference with education, but that’s not the experience they’ve had down there, using predominantly blackboards to instruct their children.
“They need the training, they have to have the training,” Airey said. “It needs extended time to make things work. This won’t be a library where you can go in to borrow books … we’ll invite children to come listen to stories at a certain time.”
That way, it’ll get the kids used to listening to stories and move on from there, Airey said.
There’s also a community garden for the nutrition garden, one where she’s found an amazing guy who came in and asked to help with the program. He’s made amazing strides with the garden, Airey said, who’s just planted 45 pineapple plants and developed an irrigation-like set up for watering and has started composting worms.
“The change in the garden by having someone taking care of the garden has been amazing,” Airey said.
She also checked out the farmers of her fair trade coffee that she purchases for fundraising here in the Bulkley Valley, to see all the work that’s done in part thanks to her purchases that foster a fair working wage for employees.
She attributes her success in Nicaragua to asking them what they need and working towards that, rather than going in and stating this is how we’re going to help you.
“They know what they need … they’ve been doing this for years and years and years,” Airey said.
On this latest visit she was happy to see a larger collaboration even between her projects. Many scholarship students are taking what they learn at school and applying them to other initiatives of TASK. The community is also looking at means of community development so they can get off their feet, and use this force to get on the ground running.
“They don’t want help forever, they want to be able to do this on their own,” Airey said.
She is planning on going again, but in the meantime she’ll continue fundraising. Anybody who’s interested in learning more can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has enough funding to continue their projects this year, she’s happy to report, but to ensure their ongoing success donations are always welcome.
“I’m just very enthusiastic,” Airey said.