Thursday, August 29, 2013

New video - Starfish Family United at Integration Day!

Remember Integration Day in June?  Recent Fairfield U grad and Starfish intern, Maria, made an incredible video high-lighting this event.

Singing, dancing, learning and uniting as a Starfish family -- it's all there!

Watch the video today!

Some Starfish students relaxing after a long day of fun at Integration Day!

The Starfish family - united!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Leadership Development at Damien House

This past week a group of Starfish students (Scholars and non-scholarship students) visited another organization here in Guayaquil as part of our Leadership Development (formally community service) program.

The organization we visited, Damien House, is a charitable hospital and clinic that transforms the lives of patients with Hansen's Disease.  Hansen's disease (formally known as leprosy) is now completely curable - but unfortunately it's past stigma means that many patients are cast out of their families and society.  Damien House provides them with a place to live with dignity, and die with dignity.  Many younger patients who have undergone the treatment have now returned to their families and lead completely normal lives.  Damien House provides care to the patients, but also receives many groups like ours throughout the year in hopes to continue to the spread awareness about Hansen's Disease.

Our students first received a tour and a talk about how the organization began, as well as a talk on what is Hansen's.  Then we had a chance to spend the rest of the day with the patients, getting to know them and assisting in their daily lives.  In the men's section the students were fascinated by one man who makes string bags, while another group of students spent hours playing dominos.

Gathered around, watching the master at work!

In the women's section, the students spent a lot of time talking.  The patients loved hearing about Starfish, as much as we loved hearing about their lives.  This is important as many patients don't receive a lot of visitors.  One lady was working on her bracelets, when Starfish Scholar Pamela shared that she also makes bracelets.  Pamela taught Esther how to make names with string on a pen while Esther showed her many new ways of bracelet making.

All in all it was a great day.  Due to the size of our group and the organization we've broken into 3 groups.  This Saturday it's group number 2's turn!

Joel, center in the Starfish shirt, was a great leader in starting conversation and really getting to know the patients!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meet Cynthia, our newest employee!

Meet Cynthia, our newest Starfish employee.  She will be joining us in our Guasmo neighborhood in the mornings to help out with our tutoring program!

"Hi, my name is Cynthia.  I am 25 years old.  I have 2 precious children and I am the happiest mom to have them with me.  I am very fun.  I like to learn a little bit of everything and I like to listen to music.  I am friendly.  It's nice to spend time with the kids at The Starfish Foundation even though it's just two times a week.  I try to help them so that they can be great young people for the future.  I hope they can always count on me."

"Hola, me llamo Cynthia.  Tengo 25 años.  Tengo 2 bebes preciosos y soy la mamá más feliz de tenerlos conmigo.  Soy muy divertida.  Me gusta aprender de todo un poco y me gusta escuchar música.  Soy amiguera.  Es muy agradable de pasar con los chicos de la Fundación Estrellitas el Mar aunque sea 2 veces a la semana.  Trato de ayudarlos para que sean jóvenes de bien para el futuro.  Espero que siempre puedan contar conmigo."

Get to know the rest of our employees on our website!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sponsor a Scholar updates!

As you may be aware, this year we started a "Sponsor a Scholar" program, based off of the success we had with last year's pen pal program.  This year our students have been paired with a new friend in the U.S., a "Starfish Sponsor" to exchange communications about life, school, culture and more.  

Our Starfish Sponsors include many of you - volunteers, donors, and other loyal supporters!  Starfish Scholars and Starfish Sponsors will write to each other 3 times a year with various updates.  

Our Scholars write about what they do in school, what their families are like, what they like to do in their free time - and their topic for the first letter - "What is your dream?" Our Sponsors respond with stories of their own lives, what it's like to live in the U.S., etc.  Some of them even used this as an opportunity to practice Spanish!

Yamileth & Yesenia working on letters with volunteer (& Starfish Sponsor!) Danny.

We have just completed our first round of letters for this school year.  It is important to note that this program does not require any additional financial support has all of our sponsors have previously demonstrated their commitment to Starfish through time, money or other support.

Next year we hope to have more scholars, and more room for your participation!  If you are interested in getting involved in this or any other program, never hesitate to email us!

Solange, in her school uniform, making sure that her new friend in the U.S. receives a colorful card!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Think about your future...

During our July monthly meeting for our scholarship students we reflected on important values in the lives of our scholars and how this affects their future.  Our reflection began with a card sent by our friends at COMIL through the Kids Supporting Kids project.

Our friends sent us motivational letters and one in particular stood out, "Dicen que los niños son el futuro de la Patria.  Yo pienso que los niños son el presente," it said. "They say children are the future of our nation.  I think children are the present."  Such wise words from a high school student.

Marlon was the first to jump up and share his reflection on the importance of continuing studies!

We reflected on these words in light our our own Starfish story to help the world, one by one.  While talking about values such as honesty, respect, friendship, humility and solidarity, we also reflected on our past, present and future.  Later, we decorated our classroom with some wonderful motivational drawings and messages!

Genesis, reflecting on her goals and dreams!

But while talking about our dreams, of course we had to have some fun too!
Flor de Bastión scholars starting off the meeting with a "dinámica" or ice breaker!

After the Flor de Bastión meeting we continued renovations on our tutoring space.  Rumor has it we'll be done shortly - don't forget to check back next week to see how much progress we've made!

Families of Starfish Scholars and tutoring students working together.
Theme of the day: "La unión hace la fuerza" - "Union is strength"