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"Alert: the Bird flu, H1N1, is making the rounds in Costa Rica's Central Valley. There have been 26 deaths reported as of 15 January 2016. It is suggested that hospital visits in general be avoided, and hospital visits by anyone with previous or current respiratory problems or serious health issues. Remember to cover your mouth when coughing, and wash your hands often, especially during and after public outings. " 


Big Trouble in Paradise

by Tiina Laara, Jan 15, 2016

Hola!

First of all, a happy new year 2016 to all of you and many thanks for your very generous contributions last year to the school of Llano Grande in the Sarchi hills. We should all be proud of our efforts and the result. We also were able to motivate the community to become active and help themselves working solely for the sake of the school. I will post some photos later aafter the school year begins.

School starts on Tuesday, February 9, and there is great difficulty at the moment for the student families living in the village of Los Angeles de Sarchi (El IMBO), where Escuela Llano Grande is located. Most of its citizens work for the coffee plantations and the nearby sugar cane plantation, They have been on strike for not having their salaries paid in December and for not receiving their Christmas bonus. This story has been on Costa Rican national TV and in the national newspapers as well.

Ignacio Araya, the returning Llano Grande headmaster, will be back at the school in February. He says there is also a dispute about the ownership of Hacienda La Luisa, the coffee plantation company that bought the Hacienda from its former German owners, which is causing additional difficult and confusion.

Due to an absence of salaries, the people of the various canton neighborhoods of Valverde Vega collected food, supplies, and clothing in December to help the people of the village.

Some of the salaries and back pay have now been paid, but not all. It´s said that the Hacienda La Luisa still owes its workers at least one month's payment and bonuses. The government has also ordered the company to pay the social security costs due  the 8th of January. It is unknown if those payments have been made. So, this lack of income in December for an already poor community of Costa Rican farm laborers is, of course, a great concern of ours.

On behalf of the kids, their families, and the school staff, I am asking you again to dig deep for donations to, at least, pay for school uniforms, shoes and pencils and books that are required just to get these children into class in 2016. If you have extra food--rice, beans, sugar, flour, spices, jello, fruit drink mixes, etc., I know these items would be appreciated, as well.

I will bring our donation book to all occasions if you can to contribute in any way.

On behalf of the students, families and teachers, I thank you very much in advance,

Tiina Laara