Introducing The Olger Project

Dear All, Friends and Family,

Some of you may have read my blog and are aware of my movements and pursuits.

http://junglejob.blogspot.co.uk/

I spent about six months at Kapawi Lodge and Tuna High School among the Achuar of the Amazonian jungle and it is my intention to go back to Kapawi Community as a full time volunteer English teacher in February next year.

I have a good reason for returning. I have identified a gifted student (in fact, some of you who came to observe my classes in Tuna High School did, too) who is starting his final year this September and would like to study in Quito once he has taken his school leaving exams. Olger wants to be a national guide and would need to study for two years at a private college that specializes in training guides at the national level. After his studies he will be able to apply for a licence and start working as a self-employed guide. Later on, he hopes to specialize in ecotourism.

olger

Olger’s Dad, Eduardo was actually a colleague of mine at the hotel (again, some of you may remember him). He used to work as a community teacher in Wayusentsa, but lately he was one of the two boat drivers at the Lodge. He has nine children including Olger. In April, as a result of a restructuring exercise at the hotel, he was made redundant. While still employed, he was hoping to put aside some money for Olger’s further studies, just as he did with his eldest daughter, who finished at a state college as an accountant this summer. Unfortunately, saving money without any cash coming in is impossible.

For some time it looked like I managed to identify a Canadian-Polish couple to sponsor Olger’s studies, but they have got so many similar projects running that in the end they decided they could not take on any more. It was at this point that I thought I needed to think of something else. I looked at all available scholarship options, got in touch with the UK-based Condor Trust that supports the education of underprivileged children in Ecuador and started looking for a family that would be prepared to take in Olger for the duration of his studies in Quito.

So far I have a pledge from The Condor Trust for Education for financial and logistical support (minimum USD 3,000) while ecuadorvolunteer.org promised to help set up an appropriate „home stay” arrangement for Olger with a Quito family. It is quite possible that I myself will move to Quito for Olger’s first year in the capital city and work as a volunteer English teacher in one of the impoverished districts of Quito.

For the duration of the coming school year, I would like to focus on Olger and his classmates in their final year of secondary education. I am already paying colleagues at Colegio Tuna (you may remember the Head, Ines and her deputy, Wilmer) to run preparatory courses in Maths and Spanish. These afternoon classes are open to all students at Bachillerato level. Olger will not have to take an exam to get into the college we have chosen, but having spoken to the Head of Tourism there, it is obvious that developing maths and language skills in the time remaining will help him a lot. His English will also improve through the extra classes given by myself and two other volunteers from October this year until May next year. All these sessions will be open to all Bachillerato students.

In January 2014, I would like to bring Olger to Cuenca for 2 weeks so that he can start getting used to city life. In the summer, I hope to visit Quito with him. By now I have identified the private college where he would be studying. The Vice-Rector of ITHI is considering setting up some kind of an official co-operation arrangement with Colegio Tuna: this would benefit not just Olger, but each and every student and teacher in this rain forest community.

The Olger Project will therefore span 3 years. Year 0 will be spent on getting ready followed by two years of study in Quito. I have prepared a budget as well (several versions, actually, until I arrived at one that seems to include all reasonable costs). It looks like I would need to raise USD 15,000 (minus USD 3,000 offered by The Condor Trust).

The main items on the list are as follows:

  • School fees and study related costs:    USD 6,000
  • Living costs and transport:                   USD 6,000
  • Year Zero costs:                                            USD 3,000

I am sure you know where this is going: I need your help. Many of you have seen the High School and/or visited one of the Achuar communities. So you can weigh up the probability of a bright Achuar student going into higher education. Without assistance, the chances are nil.

There are various ways to help:

– If you are a UK income tax payer and would like to make a one-off donation, you can send a cheque to the Condor Trust. Please also go to the Condor Trust website and download the Gift Aid form (http://www.condortrust.org/PDF/NewGiftAidForm.pdf), fill it in and send it with your cheque to:

Chris Patrick, The Condor Trust for Education

6 Wyvern Road

Purley

Surrey CR8 2NP

Gift Aid is worth 25% on your donation; for example, if you were to pledge GBP 100, the Condor Trust will actually receive GBP 125.

– If you are a UK income tax payer and would like to make a regular donation, please download and fill in the Standing Order form (http://www.condortrust.org/PDF/regular_donations.pdf) and return it with the Gift Aid form to the address above.

The Condor Trust would like to keep the donations for Olger separate from others, so please make sure you mention that the donation is specifically for the Olger Project when you send your cheques, Standing Order and Gift Aid instructions to Chris Patrick of the Trust.

– If you are a UK income tax payer and would like to make a donation using a UK registered debit or credit card, please go to www.bmycharity.com/olger and click on donate. Gift Aid will apply.

– If you are donating from outside the UK, please go to www.bmycharity.com/olger and click on donate. You will be able to make a donation by debit or credit card in British Pounds – your card issuing bank will look after exchanging your money. It may take a day or so for BMyCharity to verify your card and for your donation to appear on their website.

GBP 10-15 (or equivalent) per month for a duration of 3 years from 20 donors would cover the costs mentioned above. Another option is to donate GBP 300 on one occasion: this would cover Olger’s educational and living costs for a month when in Quito. We would need 27 such donors to pay for all the costs over 3 years.

Another option is to donate money using PayPal. My account is in the name of: Erzsebet Agnes Bekes. The e-mail address is:

ebekes@yahoo.co.uk

Any money received through PayPal would then be paid into the BMyCharity account and qualify for Gift Aid.

It goes without saying that any amount is helpful, be it more or less than what I am suggesting above.

I know that you are receiving requests for donations almost every day. I am not even pretending that my cause is more worthy than anybody else’s. But it is my cause and I feel strongly about it, because I believe it is a privilege to change somebody’s life for the better.

I am the primary sponsor and I take the pledge I made to Olger and his community very seriously. This means that I am prepared to pick up any shortfall. Olger wants to study and I will do my best to help him succeed. It won’t be easy. He’s got a long way to go to catch up and compete with students who have had the opportunity of attending a decent school in a town with water, electricity, transport and Internet.

I often look at the photos that were taken while you were at Kapawi Lodge or came to observe my classes. Those of you who actually visited the school were such good sports when engaging with my students! It would be great if you could still be part of the Kapawi Experience by helping me help Olger.

With love,

Elizabeth

P.S. And, of course, I will keep you posted by starting a new blog series entitled “Educating Olger”.