Siwok 2007 report

Wichi peopleDuring 2007 we have, thanks to your support, worked on different themes and projects. As stated in our mission statement, all the work intends to strengthen the values and talents of the Wichi people. We must add that we also intend to defend their environment, this has been high on this years list of activities.

These are the areas we have worked on:

We moved our office to the centre of Salta City (Vicente Lopez 187) where we can also show the work done by the Wichi Painters we have been promoting for the past 10 years.

We have had the help of Pamela Gomez organizing the different projects and activities. This has been important so as to coordinate the logistics of all done. The biggest effort goes into the yearly marathon and the health theme that is tied to it (eye care). She will be taking a year leave to work in SAMS Ireland. We hope that from there she can also help us.

Natural resources:
We have supported the Wichi leaders in their cry for protection of their forest and specially their fine woods. Never before have we seen how trees were chopped down to be sent illegally to China. This has been scandalous because it will prevent the Wichi in future to generate genuine income as there will be no wood to work with plus the loss of habitat.

On this subject we have worked on these areas:

Our constant (with other NGOs) pressure on the authorities through letters and meetings with the top official of the government produced Resolution Nº 948. that puts some control on illegal logging. All extraction permits were written off and all logs on the road have to be certified. This, in theory, is positive BUT we are still far from a real solution as the containers full of wood are leaving daily and these, for sure, are not legally certified. There are many rules but also many ways around them. There is a light of hope as the government has changed and there are new officials now with a more ecology mind. We will be carrying on with this effort in 2008.

Support (with other NGOs) for 8 community leaders to travel to Buenos Aires where they met with political leaders of Indian Affairs, Human rights, Ombudsman, Natural Resources, etc. The agenda was land rights and loss of forest to soy bean farmers. They also met with the senator (Miguel Bonasso) that has put together the new Forest Law that will stop tree felling for 1 years till land tenure is organized.

Support for Jose Molina (leader of Carboncito community) to travel to Buenos Aires (1600km away) to the 3rd Seminary on Natural Resources and Social Participation in the Mercosur economic block. (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay & Argentina). It was organized by the External Affairs and Social Development Ministry. We filmed a video under the title: “Stop all this” which shows the terrible effect on communities of the sale of Palo Santo Wood to China. It´s done in Spanish, French, English and German).We are gratefull to Cristoff Kehr for helping us with this work. You can see this on YouTUBE.


In this area we have done:

A).- TAKING CARE OF OUR EYES. This project has been part of the 2007 Wichi Marathon held in July. We were supported here by a well known ophthalmologist, Dr. Fernando Di Lella, who traveled to the communities of Misión Chaqueña, Salim y and Carboncito. In two active days 72 patients were attended. From this iniciative we were able to:

Mobilize people from Buenos Aires to help with the frames for reading glasses. 48 Wichi recieved glasses.

Organize the operation of Pastor Rufino Gutiérrez who, due to acute glaucoma was going to loose his sight forever. He was operated by Dr Di lella and although he had lost sight in one eye his other one was saved.

Communicate the needs to our friends and contacts so that all could donate their used glasses. This was successful as we are still receiving bags of old spectacles that are then sent to the optician where he gages them and from there to the communities. We will carry on with this in future.

B).- We have worked on editing a flyer that deals with preventive info on diarroea in Wichi language. We hope this will give practical info for families on this subject that is the cause of malnutrition and infant mortality. We are very grateful to Bob Lunt for his continued support when we have to do any translating.

We receive from the communities the message that sport has to be promoted as there are no activities for the young. That is why we are involved in this area. The pit that they fall into, if there is no alternative for their spare time, is alcoholism. This has many secondary effects (violence, theft, health problems, etc). This is what has been done:

Inter Community football champinoship. Six teams played each other during three months. We hope to do this again with some changes that could prevent excesses. (All teams put 2 pesos each for each payer and the winner would take all. This went ok but after prize giving all got drunk and there was violence)
Wichi Marathon: more than 300 runners of all ages took part in this year´s event. Every year the organization is bettered although we still need a good computer program to get the prize winners fast. We were supported by the Foundation´s members and other volunteers. The Wichi themselves take more and more responsibility every year and it´s our hope that they will be able to do it by themselves in years coming. What is more difficult for them is the fundraising which has to be done via internet with contacts and friends.

Nike 10k Maratón: Nora Segundo and Eugenia Vallejos, came in first and second in their category and were given support by the foundation to go and run in Buenos Aires. Eugenia had also won in ´06 but for both it was a super experience to compete with 25.000 other runners. We plan to have this as a normal part of the Wichi Marathon’s fixture. We have to give special thanks to St. George´s College for giving them a place to stay on this and past trips.

Sport development Project. Due to our contacts with Nike we were asked to put together a sports program which we have done and presented t oto posible sponsor. It includes football, volleyball and the Maratón which Intend. To promote these sports with Wichi Teenagers (boys and girls).

We have had kids breaking into the museum through the window. They messed up the glass showcases and had a party in the centre room. All were drunk so the place was very messed up after they left. This has meant that we stopped investing in this project till there is a night watchman which we haven’t found yet. We will put the pressure on the local authorities so that they support this cultural anchor. There has to be somebody living there so the can take care of the museum and water the plants of the botanical garden. This last area will be of great importance to have as all that forest knowledge is getting lost. We will insist this coming year on this.

In order to put the pressure on local authorities we have put together the Museum needs an organised written Project. This Project is available to any interested partner.

This Little Project has given the school very sweet results. For the second consecutive year the five hives that were installed on a far end of the school compound gave a harvest of 40 kg of honey. This is given to the children to take home and part is sold to pay for books for the school. The work is coordinated by a bilingual teacher (Octaviano Gutierrez) who is also a member of the board of directors the Foundation. Kids from the upper grades help to clean, feed and harvest the hives so they have practical experience to be used once they are older. We hope to support students with hives for themselves in year ´08. This way there will be more enthusiasm to learn. As this is a very small project we need to get attached to other NGOs in the area to get the teaching for further knowledge.

For over ten years we have supported Wichi Art and it´s of great satisfaction to see how the artists are evolving. Since Litania Prado´s death (she was the first Wichi painter)in mid ´06 more painters have come in to practice. Slowly but steady we have seen how Laura (Litania´s sister) and Sarah Diaz (Litania´s sister in law) have gone ahead with putting on canvas their traditions and day to day life. It will have a big impact in the documenting of Wichi life for future generations. Reinaldo, was given a bicycle by the Foundation to visit other communities and that has meant that more young people started painting as we expected to happen. There is a need now to open up a market for these works as the only way that this can be sustainable is if they can be sold.

We will have an important exhibition in the top cultural centre in Buenos Aires sponsored by Pluspetrol a local oil company.

What we are pushing also is to develop other options to paint so we now have chairs, bowls, boxes and ladies clothes with the paintings. Twenty percent of the sale of these go back direct to the painters even though the work has already being paid for.

We finished the year with U$D766 in the bank. Still we have to print the diarrhea leaflets so it seems we will end the year near zero. This is healthy and normal and it’s our responsibility to share this news with you all and maybe you can count on your donations again. We would like to give special thanks to the SIWOK UK enthusiastic team of volunteers. Without them this could not have been done.

Many thanks for your continued support to the Siwok Foundation. We look forward to your help this year also so as to help the Wichi keep their environment and traditions alive plus gaining confidence and self esteem. God bless you all.

Alec Deane
(Siwok Foundation President)

Message from Alf Cooper

Alf Cooper, the keynote speaker at Friday Night Live writes:

“As we look over our calendar”, write Alf and Hilary Cooper from La Trinidad church in Santiago, “we see wonderful evangelistic opportunities before us and many new people have been arriving at church.

With the arrival of new people we follow up with a Foundations Course called ‘Building on the Rock’ and this has enabled many to grow and stick with us becoming part of us. Children and young people are welcomed into our Youth and Children’s Encounters. ??We also see a new opportunity – television. We’ve signed a contract to go on air, as we figure that Wesley would have used this powerful tool. We want to host a chat show called “Hazte Cargo” (roughly “Stand up for what you believe”) where we invite national figures to talk about their beliefs, whatever they are, and to stand up for them. We will stand up for biblical Christianity. Pray!” Talking of media, Alf is writing another book.

Pray for Alf and Hilary and we look forward to their contribution at Friday Night Live.

Pray for Bishop Andrés Rodríguez

Bishop Andrés Rodríguez who, following Bishop John Ellison’s retirement, has oversight of the Diocese of Paraguay until the appointment of a new diocesan bishop. Bishop Andrés is extremely busy with all the extra responsibilities and this is the hottest part of the year. Pray for him and his wife Estela, and also for the procedures to appoint a successor to Bishop John. A vote could be taken at a diocesan synod in March.

Salta youth camp, Jan 2008

La Caldera is the location of the BTN trip in July 2008. This report shows how the diocese is already at work there.

Dani Lescano and René Pereira are the two men coordinating the diocesan youth camp planned for January 21-27 of 2008. They are expecting some 65 youngsters from urban parishes all over the diocese.  The aim is to mix training in evangelism with some practical maintenance work on the conference centre itself.  The programme promises to be action-packed.  Amongst other things such as sports and Bible study, there will be a number of workshops on different types of outreach (puppets, theatre, music, mime, etc.) and the idea is to apply the lessons learnt on the last day in the La Caldera village.  Knowledge of the gospel message will be key.  In the streets and on the plaza the young people will present the evangelistic effort they’ve been working on.

Growth in Punta Arenas

Colin and Barbara Bazley are SAMS GB Mission Partners in Chile. They write,

Punta Arenas, on the Straits of Magellan, is cut off from the rest of Chile by uninhabitable icy mountains, glaciers, fiords and islands. We expected that the church here, having been a year without a minister, would have felt more isolated than ever and we feared to find it in a somewhat depressed state. To our surprise and great joy this was far from the case. Housegroups, Sunday Club, youth group, music as well as the Sunday services were all flourishing and enjoying the challenge. New people had joined and there are a good number of confirmation candidates for the Confirmation this coming Sunday.

St. Andrew’s College end of year report

St. Andrew’s College report, December 2007
St Andrews end of year service
School finished at the end of November as exams finished and reports were given out. The staff carried on coming to school until December 12th when we finished with a big staff lunch in the school hall. There were well over 100 people there. The office staff finished on Wednesday this last week and the workmen all have staggered holidays so that maintenance work can continue throughout the holiday period. Of course there is no-one in school now or for the next few days. We carried on going into school with the office staff but not staying all day. Friday was the first day we didn’t go in and we felt like our holiday was starting.

The school year carried on in the same way it started! It’s been a very difficult year but there have also been times of great blessings…so I supposed we shouldn’t be surprised at the problems!! In August we had two weeks in which Linn and the two of us managed to teach all the primary children English…with the help of lots of classroom assistants. At the same time Mags taught her 9th grade and Gwen took on the infant class. We had a good time doing a project in those two weeks and the kids seemed happy enough. Then Naomi arrived and took Babs’ classes and was with us until Babs returned at the end of September. I don’t think she found it easy coming into a new environment with no Spanish and everyone rushed off their feet. Still, she survived and returned to England in October. St Andrew's students
Elaine Black arrived also and settled into her two classes quickly. In October she went to St Andrew’s students and came back feeling ill and was diagnosed with Giardia, a very resistant parasite. She was very ill for a few weeks. I think she thought she’d never recover. A few visits to the hospital and to various doctors finally saw her right but by then the term had ended and she’d missed the final part! It reached the point where her 3rd grade class asked the helper if she felt ok as all their teachers seem to get ill. They haven’t managed a whole year with one English teacher for the past three years due to illness!! We’ve had to promise the parents we’ll put in someone who looks likely to stay the course next year!!

Elva’s absence was obvious during the year with various people trying to cover her work. We have now appointed someone for the job for next year. We interviewed quite a few people but finally chose the maths teacher already in school and then had to appoint a new maths teacher! One of the secretaries in the secondary school stepped off the bus at the end of July and her coat got caught in it and she was dragged along with the bus going over her feet. She was off school for the next three months. Thankfully one of the top traumatologists has a child in school and he managed to operate on Mati’s foot in the state hospital and so it was all done free. That was another job to be covered in the secondary.

The end of year celebrations went very well. St Andrew's infants' playThe infants did a lovely show for their parents and the hall was packed out. The primary act was a little too squashed in the hall with 6 classes and their parents and other family members . It was a Christingle service. Sadly the parents seemed to have come for a show, to watch their children perform, and so it wasn’t quite what it was meant to be . I think a new venue is called for, for next year. The 9th grade service was held in the cathedral and there was a lovely atmosphere there. The 9th grade are a very special class and it was very moving to hear even the big lads giving a testimony as to what God has done in them this year. There weren’t many dry eyes in the building…except for those who didn’t understand the English!! The 6th form had their leaving service in the chapel and each one was prayed for and then given a candle to go out and shine as lights in the world. The next evening was their graduation service which is an official “do” with people from the Ministry of Education there. The top pupils have to give a speech and , again, it was amazing to hear their testimonies as to what God is doing in their lives. Bishop Andres came down from Concepcion and at the end was asked to pray. He said he’d listened to English and understood not a word and so he was going to ask permission to speak in Guarani …. which he did! He then took hold of the school flag and the Paraguayan flag and prayed for the country and the school. The parents gave him a round of applause!

The annexe school was not forgotten in all this. We also went to all their end of year celebrations and enjoyed seeing how much the Lord is blessing the school there. We were even given a meal there. That was one of many we were offered in this time as we also went to parties for our 6th grade and 6th form.

In between all this we had school each day and it was in this time that a number of parents chose to come and share what they thought was wrong with the school! It wasn’t an easy time but we tried to make all feel welcome to come and to be listened to and to give an answer where possible. Some of the problems centred round our lack of English staff and especially a stable English staff. We would ask your prayers for more people to be called to join us who are willing to commit to more than just a few years with us. Other problems are now noted to be worked on for next year. Some families have taken their children out of school. One family went because he said we didn’t offer enough sports. Having also said the English wasn’t too good he then came back to say how he’d been congratulated on his children’s level of English in an American school. It seems you can’t win with some people although we have tried to meet with folks to help where we can.

Christmas seemed to come early to Paraguay and there are now no more Christmas services in the Anglican church this year! We had a big Christmas service in the Cathedral on Sunday night (16th) and 9 lessons and carols on Wednesday in the English church. Both were very well attended. In fact, the service in the cathedral was extra special for us as we saw quite a few of our ex pupils taking part in the service, in the music, reading, sound system and then giving the talk. It was like a dream come true to see our ex pupils so involved. They are the result of Patrick’s work in the Youth Encounters. Since his return Patrick has also led a big assembly once a month for the secondary. They go into the cathedral and it’s quite amazing to see the joy on the pupil’s faces as they join in there.

We are here for Christmas. The main celebration being tonight, Christmas Eve, but we are having a Christmas meal tomorrow with Irish Elaine and her boyfriend who’s here for a visit. On Wednesday we expect Claire to arrive from Concepcion and on Thursday we are off to the beach in Brazil for a week and Claire is coming with us. We hope to come back via Curitiba, a city in Brazil, but so far haven’t been successful in booking a hotel. Our animals are all fine and enjoying having us home a bit more although they don’t tend to understand holidays and still wake us at 6 am for breakfast! Olga will come as usual to look after them whilst we are away.

Thankyou to everyone for all your support and prayers. They really do mean a lot to us. We’d like to be able to thank you all for the Christmas cards too but we haven’t had any post from England for ages!! So, we have no English cards, nor the presents we know our families have posted! The last thing to arrive here was posted on Nov 11th so we are living in hope that our things will arrive soon!!

May the joy of the Lord be yours this Christmas and in the New year.

God Bless, Love from Mags and Gwen

Directions to Jethro Centre

Friday Night Live
Jethro Travel Directions

  • Leave the M1 at junction 10 signposted Craigavon / Lurgan.
  • At the roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A76 signposted Lurgan.
  • Drive up the Lough Road and over the railway crossing entering Lurgan.
  • Continue through the town, passing Shankill Parish Church on your right.
  • At the 2nd set of major traffic lights which is just past Fulton’s Furniture Store make sure you are in the right-hand lane and veer right.
  • Pass the petrol station on your left.
  • The Jethro Centre is immediately on your left.

Mission Paraguay Report 2007

Mission Paraguay sends teams of volunteers out to work alongside the Anglican Church in practical projects, community based work, childrens’ activities and social projects. In 2007 41 volunteers, backed by many churches and organizations, spent June to August working in and around Asuncion, Concepción and the Chaco. Many worked on projects started by previous teams and this report will provide an update on the work.

The report includes details on:Mission Paraguay

  • Roque Alonso
  • Emboscada
  • Esperanza Foster Home
  • Concepción – Inmaculada
  • Chaco – Para Todoi
  • Childrens’ work
  • Past projects – Yatnata and Zeballos Cue
  • Mission Paraguay 2008

Download the full report with photo. (9MB PDF)

Paraguay gets under your skin. It is a subtle thing, something to do with the place (vast expanses of palm trees and swamps, and dusty cities) and it is something to do with the poverty that you see, in its varied forms, wherever you go. But mostly, I think, it is to do with the people. The people I met were warm hearted; they approached us as friends. They demonstrated their faithfulness and love for God by greeting us as family members. They challenged my understanding of reliance on prayer for every aspect of their lives.
Sarah Holman who worked at Concepción

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