12 Sep 2011

Minutes of the AGM

Hello Mediterránea supporters

Last week we had our AGM.  The president (Michael) started by giving a summary of the year and commented on the philosophy, objectives and targets of the charity, including the increase in members despite the current economic crisis.  

As you know, we are all volunteers and we don’t have any overheads. The only things in our possession are two stamps. We don’t rent any premises. The social headquarters are at the medical centre where the president and leader of the projects in Ethiopia work. This way we avoid rental costs. Telephone calls and other administrative expenses are covered by the medical centre.  By working like this we realise just how much money charities can save. Our aim is for all the money to go towards the projects, not just 10 or 20% as is the case with many other charities once they have paid their overheads and their staff.  

The leader of the Mediterránea projects in Ethiopia gave an overview of the projects in Ethiopia:

The Abugida school, of which we are all extremely proud, as it is unique in Ethiopia. The efficient running of the school, its sponsorship programme which works so well, classes for adults, the temporary refuge for abused women, the wonderful nursery school.

The dining room of the Biru Tesfa state infant school, which has gone from providing breakfast to providing lunch as well. The director seems to be a committed and efficient gentleman. This is his vocation. He likes children and enjoys being a teacher.

The dining room of the Fitawrari school. Fitawrari school is our Achilles Heel. We realise that going there after being at Abugida (it is close by) is not easy because the differences are appalling. But we believe that the management lacks commitment to improve the organisation and hygiene of the dining room. They also need to improve their accounts. The position of director is a political responsibility here and you can tell.
We will keep fighting on this front because the children who attend Fita (many of them come from Abugida) are in desperate need of help. There is a direct relationship between poverty and the amount of flies that come with it.  For many of the children at Fita the flies are their most loyal friends.

The programme for sponsoring the elderly is progressing very positively. Fortunately we haven’t lost any of our elderly people yet. Next week we will be in Ethiopia and one of our aims is to meet up with the elderly people of the neighbourhood. You are aware that the April group (Teresa, Nacho, Laura and Maite) is trying to raise the necessary funds for refurbishing the warehouse premises and essential resources needed to convert it into a social centre for these elderly people, therefore we urge you to buy a lottery ticket from MD as the proceeds will go towards this project.  It is vital to listen to the elderly people and hear their opinion and find out what they would like. We have our own plan but we would like to know what they think of it. We have different mentalities and we don’t always see things in the same way so we don’t want to impose anything on them.

The Sebeta school for the blind in the town of Sebeta. This is the only project of Mediterranea that isn’t in Akaki. The school is around 20 km from Addis going towards Jimma.  In May we sent Virginia and Débora, two teachers specializing in blind children who were faced with the impossibility of making an influence on the education system for blind children in Ethiopia – which consists of punching holes in paper for hours on end to learn Braille – and came up with the idea of the Messi room, a recreational workshop which is managed skilfully and has a high attendance rate. We have taken on two monitors.  The name Messi comes from Me siento Feliz (I feel happy), and transformed to Messi, nothing to do with them being from Argentina ha ha. This is the only place where the children can be children and feel happy, learning through play.
Many of the children have poor eyesight and some can even see well. Nobody knows why there are actually there: some are abandoned, the parents of some of them were told that they could go blind in 25 years time, so they would be better off learning to live as blind people. These children leave school at 17 having learned Braille and not knowing how to read or write.  Since April we’ve been trying to find out how many children are at the school but the number of children fluctuates. They live in terrible conditions: their bathroom facilities are horrible, their mattresses are bug-ridden, they are all cramped together. The Sebeta School is our next main target in Ethiopia.  It looks like the director is staying although in theory a new one was supposed to be arriving in September. However nobody seems to want to go there. We will have to see what happens.  We always try to be positive and although it seems like this man isn’t bothered about doing anything, he isn’t trying to put any obstacles in our way either…

We remembered the mothers at Abugida, those exceptional and determined women who live in such a hostile social environment from the moment they are born.
And of course there was a mention for the wonderful volunteers who have been to Ethiopia this year and have set very high standards in their good deeds and excellent work.  There was one last mention for our representative Dr. Zerihun, a key figure in the success story of Abugida and the efficient running of the programmes.  

It was then Elisa’s turn to speak. She is the professor of Physiotherapy at the UIB (the University of the Balearic Islands), with which we have an agreement to send physiotherapists to the Dangme East Hospital in Ada (Ghana). As you know we have set up a physiotherapy service in this hospital which is the only one in the area and serves an estimated population of around 200000 people. The first of the volunteer physiotherapists returned from their trip, very satisfied with the project and the work they carried out so it’s all working out very well indeed.  

Fernanda, who is responsible for the Palma Fourth World project, was the next person to speak. She explained everything that had been done throughout the year, which amounts to a lot (food distribution, English and Spanish classes) and she also talked about how difficult it was to continue with the programme at the present time. This is due to the fact that the Mali residents association has no funds to pay for the premises where they are based.  This programme is now on stand by until new premises can be found.

Robin, from the marketing and publicity team, spoke about the need to increase Mediterránea members and organise fundraising events. We have quite a few on the go and various strategies for giving Mediterranea more publicity with out cost are being formulated.

Juan Luis, our wonderful accountant, gave the final presentation and thanks to all his efforts this year we have been designated a Public Utility, which is a social recognition of our work and very important as far as our members are concerned, since they will be able to claim 20% tax relief, companies will be able to claim 35% tax relief so if there are any companies reading this, why not join us!

We then proceeded to approve the accounts for 2010 and the budget for 2011 by way of a vote.  After the questions and answers, the meeting finished with the voting for the new Mediterránea Board.

The following candidates presented themselves (remember that any member can put themselves forward for any position on the Board of Directors) and were approved:

Michael Stoma: for president.
Juan Luis Andrés: accountant.
Lorenzo Ros: secretary.
Victoria Baldo, to act as spokesperson and person responsible for the Mediterranea projects in Ethiopia.
Stefanie Milla: for spokesperson and to form part of the Mediterranea Ethiopia team with duties to include recruiting members, creating fundraising events on the mainland, collaborating with editing and writing a variety of texts. To provide moral and “thinking” support to the person responsible for the Mediterranea projects in Ethiopia.
Fernanda Canoura, in charge of the Palma Fourth World project and future leader of sponsorships in Ethiopia, in conjuction with the person responsible for all the projects in Ethiopia.

The 2010 report will be published on the website and the blog.

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