The Warmth of Partnership

Paula Laschober, Washington Partners President
photo 1 copy.jpg         One of the 11 classroom heaters purchased. Back (l to r): Haitian teacher, Principal Luis Bravo, Washington Partner Paula Laschober, and Chilean Partner María Teresa Herrero. 

The Washington State-Chile Chapter is keeping children warm through collaboration.

When Chilean Partners traveler and school principal Luis Bravo attended a reception by the Washington State Chapter, he commented that his low-income school had no heat. Bravo told members in late March how the students at the Union Latinoamericana Public Grade School in Santiago would freeze during the winter months.

Laschoberchildren.jpg Union Latinoamericana Public Grade School students watch the performance

Hearing Bravo’s story, Washington Partners Board members immediately huddled together and voted to dedicate $1,000 to purchasing classroom heaters for the school. The Alameda Rotary Club of Santiago, of which Chilean Partners President Elena Torres is a member, then donated another $944.

Together, they secured 11 gas heaters, along with gas cylinders and the fuel itself, in June. The Washington Partners and Alameda Rotary Club purchased gas heaters instead of electric ones due to the school’s poor electric infrastructure.​PLforSM41_1.jpg                                       Students dance at the ceremony. 

This is not the first time the Washington State-Chile Chapter has provided resources to schools. The Chapter, which has been active since 1985, donated library materials including computers and books to two Chilean public elementary schools in 2013. 

Bravo initially traveled to Washington in early March as a guest of the Washington Partners. He sought to learn about school programs aimed at integrating immigrant children, particularly those who do not speak English. Bravo wanted to apply these lessons to his own school, which has a high population of recent immigrants.​​

Laschober2.JPG ​Two of the heaters brought out into the school patio for the ceremony. Photo (l to r): Herrero, school teacher, Laschober, Bravo, and four members of the Alameda Rotary Club.

Over 40% of his students are immigrants from Haiti. Other students come from South American countries like Venezuela and Colombia. To help facilitate this integration, Bravo strives to teach Spanish to the Haitian students. 

In early July, Washington Partners President Paula Laschober traveled to Bravo’s school to see the gas heaters in action and participate in a school ceremony held to thank Partners and the Alameda Rotary Club. Students performed songs and dances and read poetry to celebrate the new heaters.​

This project exemplifies how a travel grant can lead to a follow-up project. It demonstrates the uniqueness of the partnership forged by the Washington-Chile Partners Chapter with the Alameda Rotary Club to meet a clear and immediate community need in a sustainable way.