The International Conference
In February 2008 representatives of COPA UK travelled to the Dominican Republic for an International Conference which included representatives from USA, Guernsey and DR as well as members of our team of volunteers. Roger Tovey, UK Vice Chairperson provides details of the meeting, which was over two days and chaired by Sebert Lane the co-founder and International President of COPA. Reasons for the meeting included:
- To review our progress and impact to date
- To confirm with our partners the core aims and vision of COPA
- To agree the way forward for COPA
It was also of great value to meet members of the other committees whom we had only corresponded with by email or telephone. We can now put faces and personalities to names.
Several proposals and recommendations were made for discussion and for ratification by each national committee. These included:
- Agreed the importance of maintaining the level of excellence in the schools and clinics.
- Agreed in principle to extend our work to developing additional schools if the need presented itself within our geographical area of operation.
- This would of course require significant funding and sponsor recruitment.
- The delegates were excited by the progress of the experimental partnership schools project whereby COPA provides training and resources to assist in raising the standards at existing state schools.
- Continue to support students to attend secondary education.
- Developing our training rooms to provide vocational courses for young people not suited for academic studies.
- Set up a fund from which we can support students to go on to university.
The full article is available on the June 2008 Newsletter
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Observing the COPA effect in the Dominican Republic
Recently committee members of COPA USA, UK and Guernsey and the COPA team in the Dominican Republic met in the DR for the International COPA Conference. Representatives discussed the current siutation and future of COPA and were able to witness the destruction of Topical Storm Noel. Faye Drewry, COPA USA committee member said she "felt honoured to take part in this important event. Our conference was both positive and productive."
Faye continues "we were encouraged to observe the wonderful progress that is being made by the COPA teaching staff and students in both schools. We feel blessed to have such competent Directors and such a good education programme. The children in both schools appeared to be enjoying fairly good health and met us with smiling faces as usual. They celebrated their Independence Day with great gusto as they wore painted flags and patriotic symbols on their faces and shirts. In LaHoya some of the students rode horses and carried flags in their parade. We were pleased to see the partnership programme beginning to make a difference in the Habanero primary school.
It was so good to see hope in the eyes and smiles of the villagers as a degree of normalcy is returning to both LaHoya and Bombita. It was especially good to see the happiness that the new cement floors brought to the families in Bombita as they swept and mopped continuously. The clinics appeared to be up and running once more although new shelves are still needed for medicine and supplies. Angel, the carpenter, showed us the beautiful cabinetry he is making for the doctor’s apartment in the LaHoya Clinic."
In addition, the group visited several neighbouring public schools which are attended by children who graduate from the COPA school in Bombita. They noticed that the children were being educated in very different conditions to the COPA schools. For examples there was a lack of visual aids and materials within the classrooms and the rooms were very dark. After these visits Faye commented that there was "a desire to do something to help improve this situation for the Bombita graduates."
COPA continues to work in partnership with local people, education authorities and school staff, as well as many COPA supporters around the world to improve the quality of education for young people in these communities in the Barahona district.
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