Update from FOF

April 2012: Visits to and from FUNDAL

We are very excited to host Diana Isabel Bonilla Sinibaldi here in North Carolina for a few days! Friday, May 11, Diana's presentation "From a Mother's Love to International Effort: Education for Deafblind Children in Guatemala" is being hosted by Friends of FUNDAL from 7 to 8:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public. It will be in English with ASL interpretation provided. Please join us for an evening of information, inspiration -- and some delicious Guatemalan refreshments! We are grateful to the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, who are providing meeting space at UUFR Founder's Hall, 3312 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC.

Diana's visit here not only gives anyone interested an opportunity to meet her and to learn more about FUNDAL's activities and programs, and its impact on the children and families it serves. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for the FOF board to meet with Diana. We're glad it worked out to add a side trip to NC onto Diana's training trip to Helen Keller National Center in New York where FOF board member Dr. Gene Bourquin works.

Earlier this year, during our second official grant cycle since obtaining our 501(c)(3) status, Friends of FUNDAL awarded $2000 to FUNDAL, for specific construction costs there. These funds not only allowed construction for needed spaces in the ground floor of the new building, they also helped FUNDAL achieve the level of fundraising needed to get the 80% matching grant from the European Union which will be spread over three years.

FOF board member Wynn Cherry got to visit the new campus earlier this month! Wynn is an adoptive mother and is committed to keeping her family's ties with Guatemala and birth family members there. She was delighted to meet FUNDAL founder and director Helen Bonilla, her husband, and their daughter Diana and to tour the campus. All three expressed great appreciate to Friends of FUNDAL. Wynn reports that she was impressed by how lovely the campus was, and how resourceful FUNDAL was in stretching their resources. (Wynn's daughter was more impressed to meet the campus dog and campus rooster!)

The piece of land used for the campus was one many might consider unusable as it was split by a significant ravine, however, FUNDAL was able to get it filled in for building on. Wynn noted that the building has three levels, to maximize space in the lot. Gently ramped walkways to the different levels allow accessibility to students and others who use wheelchairs or have orthopedic difficulties, thus avoiding the need for costly elevators. The central skylight and generous windows provide a lot of natural light, so FUNDAL can minimize electricity costs for lighting. Instead of non-functional extras, the campus building was made lovely by choice of cheerful paint colors.

A hearty congratulations to FUNDAL and deep thanks to all of you who have helped make this new campus a reality. The increased access to students, families, volunteers, staff, and members of the community was much needed. As FUNDAL moves toward serving almost 300 students at its main campus, and has provided training to more than 1000 college students and profesionals, its impact on students and their families is multiplying. What an exciting time -- may it be one step among many as programs for students with deafblindness and multiple disabilities are increased and more areas of Guatemala served.

Grace Bullen, FOF Chair


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