Arleen Stewart Cheston
Dear Friends of Colombia,
Since our last newsletter we have had a significant renewal of interest in FOC and the message has come through that FOC does serve a function, not only in the projects which we support, but also in the lives of its members. Therefore, we are regrouping, adding a few new members who have a fresh perspective, and plan to move forward.
I was particularly invigorated by my group reunion, which took place in Yosemite National Park last August. You will read more about the reunion in the article by Donald Goldberg, who was instrumental in organizing the event. The message was loud and clear that people wanted to maintain a connection with their Peace Corps experience, but that they also want to continue to support the people of Colombia. This involvement can best be accomplished through the support of FOC projects in Colombia.
FOC has made the commitment to put greater emphasis on projects in Colombia, enhancing the ones we currently support and expanding into new areas as is possible. In order to do so we are looking at various approaches to fundraising. We have been able to double our contributions to these projects for the year 2006. You will find more details about these contributions inside this newsletter.
The weekend of September l5th marked the 45th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. Ambassador Carolina Barco, recently appointed to the Embassy of Colombia, invited FOC to a reception at her home. Ambassador Barco was genuinely interested in the mission of the Peace Corps and had put us high on her priority list of people she wanted to meet upon arriving in Washington, D. C. We have agreed to dialogue on the subject of what Peace Corps accomplished in Colombia, what FOC is currently involved in, and how we can continue to work with Colombia on a people-to-people basis.
Another event of the weekend was a party on the sailing vessel, the Pajaro Jai. (See pictures on page 6.) The Pajaro Jai was commissioned to be built by the Embera people in Panama, by Jim Bruton, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama. Their mission is one of increasing awareness of the plight of indigenous groups who face a struggle for survival. We wish to thank Jim Bruton for inviting us on board to experience the Pajaro Jai. Information about the Pajaro Jai Foundation can be found on its website, www.pajarojai.org.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Pat Suarez for her many contributions to FOC, her leadership as chair of membership and maintaining our data base no small taskfor five years, her many years on the Board and then as a participant, and her willingness to simply pitch in as needed. Pat has decided to turn over her responsibilities to Gate Gibson. We hope that she will be able to continue to interact with the Board, sharing her insights and enthusiasm.
Lastly, I am asking all former Peace Corps Volunteers to Colombia to write and tell me about projects that you started as a volunteer and you know continue today or you would like to know if they continue today. In addition, I would like to know of any projects in Colombia that you are involved in today. This information might help us get funding in the future. I look forward to your response. You may contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sincerely yours, Arleen Stewart Cheston President, FOC