E-Newsletter June 2003

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Dear Friends,

There is much news about Bolivian Quaker education and BQEF. Next week BQEF will take two big steps forward—putting out our first newsletter, and filing IRS Form 1023, the application for 501(c)(3) status. You will get a copy of the newsletter if you are on our skimpy mailing list, and copies will be available at several Friends gatherings this summer, beginning with FAHE/FCE at Swarthmore and Pendle Hill this month.

501(c)(3) status allows the tax-deductibility of contributions. Donations are already tax-deductible, since BQEF is a project of Buffalo Meeting, but the favorable ruling (which may take months) will still be important. It will allow BQEF to raise funds independent of the meeting, it will allow BQEF to complete its registration as a charity in New York State (the state of our incorporation), it will allow for funding from foundations, and it will permit tax-enhanced contributions from UK through the Charities Aid Fund. Work in Bolivia is going apace, far beyond what our rudimentary organization here would seem to make possible. All the program activities of BQEF are in Bolivia, where the coordinator of the work is Bernabé Yujra. Bernabé started with some preliminary organizing last fall, which included the preparation of an application form for higher education scholarships and forming a committee to receive and judge the applications. The result of that effort is fifteen young Bolivian Quakers with significant support for their university or professional studies! While we work together on long-range planning, administration and day-to-day decision-making are handled by Bolivian Friends, with Bernabé sending us monthly reports on both activities and finances.

An incalculable part of the credit for BQEF must go to Bernabé, who continues to teach half-time in a public school. He comes to his present responsibilities with 20 years experience as a teacher, six years working with the Quaker Bolivia Link, and several years of service in various capacities on the Mesa Directiva (executive committee) of INELA. Experienced, widely respected, and an excellent networker, he has Santidad and INELA, frequently rivals, working cooperatively in BQE-Bo. That is one of several confirmations that this is indeed spirit-led work. Expenses of the program in Bolivia are modest—about $1,500 a month. But having started with nothing, we made commitments beyond the resources we had in hand. At present it is hand-to-mouth (that is, the funds in hand will see us through August), so the program needs your financial support as well as your blessings.

Contributions for the work may be made to either "Buffalo Friends Meeting" earmarked "BQEF", or directly to "Bolivian Quaker Education Fund", and sent to BQEF, 11253 Boston Road, East Concord NY 14055.

In fellowship,

Newton Garver, President

PS

I am attaching Bernabé’s reports of his activities in the first four months of the year, and I am pasting below an Update on Loida and Cecilia and a detailed description of the scholarship program. Other things that I can easily send are Bernabé’s financial reports for 2003 to date and thumbnail sketches of the 15 scholarship recipients, so let me know if you wish to see either of those documents.

NG June 18, 2003

UPDATE

The roots of BQEF go back to the summer of 2001. Dona Manoukian (Langley Hill Meeting) and I, with much help from many others, arranged for Cecilia Paco and Loida Cutipa to visit the US for seven weeks in June and July. They spoke about Bolivian Quaker schools to more than half a dozen gatherings in the eastern states—interest groups at FCE, FGC, PYM and BYM, as well as informal groups at two Quaker retirement communities, two monthly meetings, AFSC and USFW. Loida and Cecilia were well received by Friends here, and many of you had a chance to meet them.

So where are Loida and Cecilia now?

As you might imagine, both are busy and involved in education—both their own and that of others. For the past two years Loida, who is still single, has been working five days a week as secretary to the director of Colegio Emmanuel, largest of the schools of Santidad, teaching typing on Saturdays at a Santidad bible college—and studying English for three hours five nights week. Her siblings have been following regular courses of study, but there was not enough money in the family for her to do so too—until this year, when she received one of the BQEF scholarships.

Cecilia, who is married with three young children, teaches English at Max Paredes while she continues her own studies. Last November she completed her B.A. degree at UMSA (Bolivia’s main public university) and she is now working on a teaching certificate. She helps with the work of BQE-Bo. On June 14 she wrote: "These day we have been very busy organizing English classes with the Knight sisters. They are very young, and the students at Emma Canaday, Emmanuel, and Max Paredes are very pleased with the visit of Natosha [Knight], Jamara [Knight] and Lucas [Wolfe]. They work hard and their schedule is full—then Monday through Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 they teach adults at Max Paredes. There are three levels of English, beginning, intermediate, and advanced. We teachers of English are in the advanced courses, and it is a beautiful experience."

ABOUT THE BQEF SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The recipients must be Bolivian Quakers. Since no Bolivian Quakers are of European extraction, this means that all of the recipients will belong to indigenous ethnic groups of Bolivia. And since more than 95% of the Bolivian Quakers are Aymara (one of the 23 indigenous ethnic groups of Bolivia), it is likely that (as in this first year) all of the recipients will be Aymara; but this is not a formal requirement. BQEF has given instructions to the coordinator and the selection committee in Bolivia that approximately half the recipients should be women. There are no restrictions with respect to the employment status of recipients or their relatives. There are perhaps 40,000 Bolivian Quakers, and the numbers seem to be growing rapidly. Recipients this year range in age from 20 to 30, and there would be about 8,000 in that age-range. Since education levels have been relatively low, in spite of great progress in the past decade, it is unlikely that more than 5% of that group are now qualified, though both the numbers and the percentage can be expected to increase. So the present number of eligible recipients is probably about 400.

In 2003 fifteen grants were made. Although the grants are formally just for one year, we construe each grant as entailing a responsibility to assist successful students through the end of their programs. Allowing for failures and completions, we therefore have forward commitments for next year of about twelve continuing grants. In the immediate future (2004-2006) we anticipate making eight to ten additional grants each year. On this basis we anticipate that the total number of grants annually will be 15 in 2003, 20 in 2004, 25 in 2005, and 30 in 2006.

Grants are disbursed monthly in face-to-face meetings with the coordinator in the BQEF office in La Paz. The coordinator is thus able to speak with recipients about their work on a regular basis. Students who do not appear do not get their grant money. In addition recipients are expected to submit a written report every few months, largely for the sake of communication with donors in the northern hemisphere.