The LATA Foundation, the UK-based charity set up by the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) to back worthwhile projects throughout the region, has announced its support for three new projects. The projects will provide
* Heating, hot water and urgent repairs for a school for Mapuche Pewenche children near Temuco, Chile.
* Medical equipment for a new health centre for an impoverished community near Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
* Support for a new training school in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru, enabling women to teach Spanish to international volunteers and others.
The project in Chile is in collaboration with Turismo Chile, the Chilean Tourist Board, which has a new remit to support social projects. The school, Escuela Pewenche, is 25 miles from Lonquimay, in Quinquen. The area has over 27,000 acres of pine forest, much of which is protected. In winter temperatures fall to -25°C, water pipes freeze and the electricity supply packs up. The school receives a small budget for staff and books but insufficient funds for maintenance. In partnership with Turismo Chile there is much that the LATA Foundation feels it can do to connect the school to the main electricity grid, replace water pipes with an insulated system that won’t freeze or burst, and install a working hot water system.
In Ecuador, the medical centre will provide health care for 225 inhabitants who live in conditions of extreme poverty in La Bocana de Ostiones, Esmeraldas. The building itself is ready, constructed by Engineers Without Borders. The LATA Foundation’s partners, local NGO Fundacion Ecuador Tierra Viva, now just need to receive the equipment to get it up and running. The provincial health authorities from Esmeraldas has agreed to provide the staff. The LATA Foundation’s contribution of US$2000 (£1250) will provide much of the equipment needed including an adjustable chair for gynaecological examinations, precision scales, diagnostic equipment with phonoscope and laryngoscope and suture kit including surgical knives, scissors and needles. The charity is appealing for additional support from travellers to Ecuador, travel agents, tour operators and ground agents to provide the following: trolley ($123.65); sterilising equipment ($770.00); blood pressure equipment ($98); stainless steel tray ($20.67); steel emesis bowl, specialist medical lamp and ancillary equipment ($164.06).
In Peru the LATA Foundation supports local NGO Awamaki who run a number of cooperative projects to provide rural impoverished women with new skills. They also accept placements for international volunteers and students. In November they set up a teacher training and language school, training women to teach Spanish to tourists and to volunteers in Ollantaytambo.
“Sustainability is very important,” explains Lucy Clark, Head of Projects for the LATA Foundation. “We have been following their progress closely. Awamaki have trained up twelve native Spanish-speakers from rural communities to teach Spanish as a foreign language. Many are single mothers so Awamaki provided child care facilities whilst they attended classes. In the last few days they have started their new careers as language teachers. It is also very clear that many of the international volunteers in the Sacred Valley want Spanish classes. Awamaki has signed up a number of volunteers and students for lessons so the project is very well thought through.”
Laura Bennett, project manager for Awamaki in Ollantaytambo comments: “It is fantastic to know that we have the support of the LATA Foundation. The teachers have started Spanish classes already and these are going very well. I look forward to sharing their ongoing progress with you.”
To date the LATA Foundation has successfully supported fourteen projects across Latin America including a sewing school in Mexico, a reforestation programme in Peru, turtle protection in Venezuela and a project to provide clean water to a community of a thousand people living in abject poverty in Nicaragua.
The LATA Foundation is entirely run by volunteers. The organisation was set up by the Latin America Travel Association in 2008. The foundation’s work is now helping thousands of people throughout the region.