Let’s Help Alexander

Many of you know how much I love Costa Rica. I have spent a great deal of time “in country” and I love so many thing about it. The things I don’t love about it all have to do with how poor some of the people are. While it is not as bad as some places (I gave away everything I had with me when I went to Guatemala), there are a lot of good people who need help. While we can’t help them, a child named Alexander was recently brought to my attention, and this not only needs help, he deserves it.

Mt friend Caden Logan brought Alexander to my attention, and I think you should hear the story in her words. She is a special education teacher, which was very lucky for young Alexander as she was able to recognize both the fact that he is very bright, and the fact that he is probably dyslexic.

“Alexander’s parents came to Costa Rica from Nicaragua 6 months ago to find work. Alexander loves his father, but only gets to see him on weekends. His boss makes him stay at the work site Monday through Friday. It is clear that Alexander loves his dad, and wishes he could see him more often than on the weekends. 

When I first met Alexander, I noticed right off what a bright, friendly boy he was. He came right up to me and started talking  about his rock and seashell collection. My Spanish is not that good, so Angelina and her mom helped translate. Alexander’s mother doesn’t speak English. He is 7 years old, and gets himself up at 6 am just so he can hear the National Anthem played on the radio before he takes his shower and gets ready for school. I was amazed at how independent he is for a 7-year old. He is definitely more independent and mature than children of a similar age in the US. 

Caden working with Alexander

Caden working with Alexander

Because Alexander has had no formal education before being placed into a first grade setting, he is struggling at school. Alexander is at a disadvantage compared to his peers because he did not get a kindergarten education. It is a godsend that Doris is there. She is like a grandmother, who invites Alexander to come down to her home in the evening to work on his homework. Part of that is because Griselda can’t understand the instructions because she only received a third grade education, part of it is Alexander has no place to study in the one-room home of the lot he calls home. 

One of the things that impressed me the most was Alexander’s ability to persevere with difficult tasks. He was given an assignment to write his name in cursive–a very difficult thing for a first grader to do. We don’t teach cursive until 3rd grade in the US. That’s when I began helping him with his assignment. Not only couldn’t he write in cursive, he couldn’t even print his name! He didn’t even know his letters, the difference between capitals vs. lower case, and how to stay on the line. I had to hand make worksheets for him so he could practice his letters. We had to search the house to find paper for him to write on. The school he attends provides no supplies such as paper, pencils, crayons, workbooks etc… They just assume everyone has them. Again… no money, no supplies/materials. The reason I believe he may be dyslexic is that even after doing a worksheet where he copies, fills in the blanks, and then writes a letter/word independently, he still writes the letters backwards, from right to left, and in segments instead of whole letters. A child of 7 should be able to at least copy letters. Alexander could not–even with facilitated writing, with my hand over his, practicing the motion of printing the letters, over and over again, successfully print his name correctly after two hours of work! I’m talking 2 hours of non-stop trying!

I have never seen a student/child that young work so hard without a break, without complaint, because he wanted to learn. As a teacher, that gives me great hope! His tenacity and patience will go a long way in helping him catch up. And just think what would happen if Alexander actually had his own little school in a corner of his home? And if their home is too small to fit a desk, chair, lamp, and maybe a small bookshelf for materials, I know Doris would find room in her home. She loves him like a grandson! 

The one other thing that I thought of was that Gruizelda must pay for Alexander’s lunch every day. There are no welfare programs in C.R. that provide free or reduced cost lunches. I don’t know all the details, but kids cannot bring food from home. I think he goes to some sort of religious school through some sort of sponsorship. That means Gruizelda must pay $20 a week for Alexander’s lunches. That is a lot of money! Maybe we could cover those costs for a short period of time just to give the family extra money to cover other expenses? And I haven’t checked out PACER yet about Learning Disabilities software programs in Spanish. I was thinking small re the amount of money that could be raised. If you could get the kind of money you raised as in prior fundraisers, maybe we could get Alexander a cheap PC? It’s just an idea. I will be forever grateful for any amount you raise. Thank you so much for helping with this. You are one amazing person!”

We have a few more pictures coming but I haven’t received them yet. I think we should raise some cash for this kid. Let’s get him a desk, all the school supplies he needs, and whatever else Caden thinks will be useful for him. If someone is trying hard, I love helping them, and it sounds like this kid is doing his best and working hard to try to catch up. The first $100 is from me, and I have contacts in Costa Rica that can get the supplies to Alexander and his mother once we purchase them. Once we raise some cash, Caden will help us figure out how it should be spent based on what he needs and how much cash we raise.

I will have a donation button set up in the next few hours (I’m learning about how it works right now) and you can also hand me cash at Running Aces and I’ll keep track of what I receive and update it here. I will post regular progress reports about the donations as well as what we are doing with the money. It will be a great blog post when I can put up some pictures of Alexander at his new desk with a lamp so that he can work after dark, some school supplies, and a smile on his face. The kid just wants to learn, let’s make it happen!

As a side note, I have been considering how we can do something to consistently raise money for charity. After the remarkable success in raising money for Grace and Licel’s families in the Philippines after the Typhoon, I wanted to do something on a regular basis. Any ideas you have about how to do something consistently are welcome and I will talk to Running Aces as well to see if we can run a monthly or weekly tournament where some of the money goes to charity. I look forward to hearing thoughts on how poker players can raise some cash on a regular basis to make the world a better place.

The button below should allow you to donate directly to my paypal account. I can access that cash immediately and we can get the ball rolling.

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