Programs started around Christmas time, 2000 with basic computer training on a donated computer and shortly thereafter 2 sewing programs. Given the intensive time commitment required by the sewing program, it failed -- teaching us in the process to be very careful to tailor our programs to the local community.
In mid 2001 we decided to wait until construction of our center was completed to host programs due to rent and operating costs, so programs disappeared. In the absence of formal organization, some volunteers from Europe and the United States started a soccer program to provide healthy recreation options for some of the youth and to establish a relationship between the local community and the center being constructed.
These volunteers also organized fiestas for Christmas and Mothers Day and arranged for a dental seminar which we were able to follow up on later when the center was completed.
In mid 2002 Phil Davidson moved from Canada to Santa Rosa to help with the completion of the construction and to initiate operations. We started simple, with English classes that required few materials and not even a finished classroom.
Shortly after English started, we added some art and craft classes through the involvement of other local volunteers from Europe, the United States and Canada. In November we re-launched our sewing program and promtly started Flamenco dance and cooking classes. An unlikely but hugely popular program was creating a small library with books donated from a school in Minnesota. This provides an opportunity to learn to read for enjoyment that otherwise does not exist in the homes in our neighborhood.
In February, we were fortunate to partner with the local 'House of Culture' for a program sponsored by the government of Finland where-in they take theater, art and music programs to selected marginal neighborhoods in Central America.
We were selected as one of 3 sites in our city to participate and in early May, 2003, hosted our first art exhibition demonstrating each of these aspects of art. In March we partnered with a local radio station to host an "Elocution" program that focusses on human relations, public speaking, skills and information required to work in the areas of public broadcast media. We also launched a math tutoring program through the efforts of an ex-marine who was volunteering with our English program and has since been taken over by Canadian volunteers.
In 2004 we were fortunate to obtain a volunteer from the American Peace Corps who did a fantastic job of setting up a "health club" where he taught health, community involvement, environmental issues and basketball. The kids looked up to him (litterally since Drew was well over 6 ft. tall). Drew launched a community newsletter with the youth, introduced chess and was the key in obtaining 5 notebook computers to start a computer class.
As of the start of 2006, we continue to host the sewing, the art & drama programs, computer class, English class and some industrial training. Two youth paid their way through 2 years of junior high school making jewelry with nails as taught at La Roca. Board games are enjoyed by even the smallest partcipant and helps to teach them planning and patience.