Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Jaden Foundation

Things are looking up for my little charity The Jaden Foundation. This current school year has been pretty low-key, as I just couldn't deal with anything too ambitious whilst I was pregnant (by the way, I love not being pregnant anymore...what a pain that was)

I haven't actively looked for funding for The Jaden Foundation for quite a while now & a few days ago Karen asked me how the charity was going to make ends meet with the new school year creeping closer, as we only had $800 BZE left for the year, which would only get us 8 more weeks of transport. I smiled and told Karen that something would come up as it always does. And I was right!

The next day I received an email from Peter Freer, a banker from the UK who decided to raise funds for the Jaden Foundation as part of a jungle adventure challenge that was held in Belize recently . Together with his team 'the Belize Bankers' he came in 3rd place. They apparently had to kayak, run and survive in the jungle with nothing more than the shirts on their backs for several days. Thank you so much Peter for doing this for the Jaden Foundation. I think you're crazy, but there you go. You all seemed to have survived the ordeal.

There was one problem with this whole story, though. The Jaden Foundation is not registered as an official charity. I didn't do this as it would have cost me $8000 to do so. And that money I would rather spend on the Belizean kids (100% of the Jaden Foundation donations go to school fees, books, uniforms, transport and whatever else the kids need).

Peter told me that he could only donate to a registered charity, which is fair enough. So I decided that this was a sign to push through a dream that I have had for years now: to try and get as many local kids as possible accepted into a private school. The Belize Christian Academy is the closest school to us and by far the best school in this part of the country. It is linked to a registered charity in the US, so Peter and his team mates could make the donation directly to the school to pay for school fees.

It is already amazing that all the children in our community go to school these days, but if they could be going to BCA that would make an ever bigger impact on their lives. Many of the kids are currently 'falling through the cracks'. They are being passed along the grades, but should really be kept back as they still struggle so much with the English language. Right now they are crammed into classrooms with over 30 kids and don't get the attention they would need to excel. At the BCA they would be in classes of only half the size and they would not be getting so confused by the mix of Creole and English (which is another problem at the state schools)

Anyway, I am not sure what it would take to get all the children from our community accepted into that school. It may be too expensive. In that case, I will focus on getting the youngest kids in that school and let the older ones continue in the school that they are at now.

I hope that next school year we will not be 'wasting' any more money on transport. Right now, we have to spend $100 BZ a week on that. And what you get for it isn't even that great. It's an old pick-up, that really isn't the safest option.

If the kids can go to the BCA they can all cycle to school together. It's across the river, at the end of a dirt track. The school that the kids go to now is in a village called Roaring Creek. To get there, the kids would have to cycle along the highway, which is way to dangerous for the little ones. If we can get the younger ones into BCA, than hopefully the older ones can make the bike ride all the way to their old school. That is...Unless I can raise enough money to get them all into the private school.

It's going to be quite a challenge, as the school fees for the private school are $250 BZ ($125 US) a month per child. I will try to get a special deal or assistance from the school & hopefully that way I will be able to send all.

Anyway, Jay and Jasper have just made a wonderful donation to the Jaden Foundation. They have given us $400 US! John and Rich' parents donate a further 20 Pounds per month & have done so for last year! Thank you, thank you, thank you, you guys. And now it looks like Peter Freer and his team mates have raised roughly $3500 US (to be donated at the end of then month). So we are getting there. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help. This is all so exciting!

If any of you blog readers out there would like to sponsor one of the kids, please contact me. You could even donate directly to the school, so the donations are tax deductible (rather give it to these kids than the tax man, right?)

Thank you,

P.S. I'll let you know what happens in the coming weeks....