E-Newsletter September 2004


It is months since I have written. BQEF is still very much alive. We had a board meeting in early June, and in the following six weeks I had displays at four Friends gatherings: the Friends Association for Higher Education and Friends General Conference, as well as both Northwest YM and New York YM. A strenuous schedule. The database has grown, but we missed sending out a spring newsletter. We received nearly £500 from a contributor in England, and £250 from Harrogate Meeting in Yorkshire, so that BQEF continues to increase its geographical appeal—several meetings in the US have added their support, and another meeting in Britain is considering doing so.

The Bolivian Quaker Education Fund took two giant steps this summer. [1] On August 1, Vickey Kaiser (Fredonia Meeting) began working half–time as Communications Coordinator of BQEF, under terms which were approved by the board at its June meeting and reviewed by the Oversight Committee. [2] On September 1, BQEF submitted its first grant proposal, a request for a substantial portion of the cost of installing computer labs in the three Quaker secondary schools in Bolivia. A second proposal went out on September 15, and several more are in the works.

The project for upgrading computer instruction in the three Bolivian Friends secondary schools includes installing computer labs, each with a server and nine PCs, as well as staff time (at $2 per hour—a generous wage in Bolivia) for the increased instruction. We have also budgeted for a site visit by a US Quaker computer person next summer (when Bolivian schools are in session), to help them strengthen the curriculum. The total project cost is about $30,000, most of which we hope to have covered by grants.

The priority for computer instruction is a choice made in Bolivia, and we are using it to introduce ourselves to Quaker foundations as well as to the Bolivian Quaker schools. The three comprehensive schools are fully utilized, with lower grades in the morning and upper grades after lunch. Upgrading the computer instruction means that one room is withdrawn from general scheduling and dedicated to computer instruction, and therefore can be used in the morning as well as the afternoon for the extra hours of instruction that the program requires. When it comes to upgrading English, something similar will be required, since English is now taught only one period a week, even to secondary students.

In the pipeline are other important steps. One is a website for BQEF, being developed by Andro Gagné of Rochester Meeting. Another is a new brochure, being developed by Shelley Cochran, also of Rochester Meeting. A third is an article in an upcoming issue of the newsletter of the Friends Association for Higher Education. Others are a fall newsletter and further grant applications, being coordinated by Vickey and me, and a trip to Bolivia in late October to coordinate first-hand planning for the next steps. More exciting: I have begun a list of people who might like to accompany me to Bolivia in August or October of 2005 and get to meet Bolivian Quakers in person—let me know if you would like to be added to that list (with your preference between August and October).

I hope that by the end of the month you will be able to visit us at www.bqef.org, and by the end of next month you will have received the fall newsletter. In the meantime, tax-deductible support (checks made to "BQEF" and sent to 11253 Boston Road, East Concord, NY 14055-9711) would be greatly appreciated.

I know that many of you receiving this deserve a more personal and individual letter, and beg you to forgive this modern form of mass communication.


Newton Garver