The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Foundation Update

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Foundation Logs Successes

It’s been a while since we have updated you all about what the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation is up to, so here is a run down of all the charities we have donated to thus far, all of which have been sourced by members of the Board or by researchers on h2g2 itself.

A number of the donations have provided basic material support for hard-pressed organisations.

In one of the poorest areas of India, the Robin Baker’s Orphan Children’s Home provides shelter, education and choice to its girls. It is the first such establishment to send a significant number of its girls on to secondary education and now some are approaching adulthood and keen to pursue their studies further. The £500 the Hitchhiker Foundation provided was spent on the books needed for the Home’s work to continue such success.

£500 to the London-based Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers bought teaching materials and equipment. The centre offers classes in the sort of English which will allow its clients to cope better with everyday situations, with furthering the integration of vulnerable immigrants being the goal of SDCAS overall. Before the Hitchhiker’s Foundation got involved funding for materials had been severely lacking and the classrooms lacked even the basics.

In Uganda, the Ssenyange Education Centre runs a nursery, primary school and orphanage and currently has around 650 pupils, about three quarters of whom have been hard hit by the death of their parents, often from the HIV virus. The Centre has used the £500 to stock the library for the students to access during the weekends and evenings. The Foundation may be providing the reading material, but the students themselves built the shelving as part of their carpentry classes.

The Ssenyange Education Centre recently sent us some photos of the completed project, so here they are:

Ssenvange Education CentreSsenvange Education CentreSsenvange Education Centre

Other money has gone towards an exciting range of education programmes.

In Southern Brazil, our £500 is helping children to use interviews, archival research and oral history to turn the history of the quilombo communities, ones founded when black men and women were able to escape from slavery, into a series of multi media projects. Run by Latin American charity Shine a Light, it will teach communication skills in new media as well as enable young people from the quilombo create texts and art so that others can learn from them.

This is an email we have recently received giving us an update:

"As the end of the year is coming along, I wanted to write a quick letter to keep you up to date on our project in the Morro do Fortunato Quilombo that you have been financing. It has been a lot slower, but also a lot more powerful and productive, than we had expected.

When we began the project, we had planned a relatively brief comic book turning the oral history of the quilombo into a tool for local schools. The community, however, turned out to be much, much richer in history, story, and creativity, than we had expected. As a result, our final product is going to look something like this:

1. 40 minute documentary on the history of the quilombo, including not only oral history, but also tall tales, funny stories, and other ways of showing what this small black community has contributed to culture and economics in the south of Brazil
2. Four short documentaries about daily life in the quilombo
3. Two fictional films, where children from the community interpret the myths and stories their grandparents told them
4. A long comic book (60 pages) on the history of the community
5. Three short comics based on local stories, myths, and legends

We still need to finish parts 1 and 4: a couple of interviews and photos, and a lot of editing, but I think it will all be done by February.

And perhaps most significantly, thanks to a collaboration with the Federal University here in Florianopolis, we have also been able to contribute to the extremely complicated and time consuming bureaucracy demanded so that a quilombo can get formal rights to its land.

I'm sorry I can't write you at the end of the year saying "It's done!" What I can say, is that your donation is going to make an even bigger difference than we had hoped."

Botswana charity Bana Ba Letsatsi helps orphans and vulnerable children get the most out of their state run schooling. We funded a pilot project for children whose illiteracy was preventing them both from attending school or participating fully in the other education programmes offered by the centre. The initial £500 paid for a trained and experienced teacher for two two-hour sessions a week for ten weeks and the outcome was so successful that Bana Ba Letsatsi decided to continue the project. We then provided a further £500 to help the programme continue and support the centre’s attempts to encourage the students to engage with the rest of what the centre has to offer.

Two teenagers from deprived areas of Chicago were involved in writing and publishing a novel thanks to our £500, which provided full scholarships for one of Open Books' award-winning literacy programmes. Open Books' own mentors and visiting experts focus at every stage of the drafting and redrafting process on story telling and language devises, helping the budding authors to hone their writing skills right through to the production of the final printed product. Hopefully this experience will help these young writers to follow in Douglas Adams’ footsteps, and eventually allow them to inspire a new generation of eager readers themselves!

We are also helping successful initiatives share their secrets more widely.

The Strait Start programme focuses on narrowing the wide education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on the Torres Strait Islands by expanding parents’ understanding of children’s development and what can be done at home to optimise it. Children engage in activities to promote language, sensorial and physical development based on daily life at home, in the community and in the natural environment. The Foundation’s £500 will allow the Strait Start programme to document and share throughout the 15 islands what has made it so successful.

The award-winning Storybook Dads charity allows parents in UK prisons to support their kids’ literacy from behind bars by reading bedtime stories onto CDs. In their newest scheme, parent and child complete a series of activity sheets which are then made into book along with photos, stories and drawings. £500 is enabling starter packs from the pilot programme in HMP Dartmoor to be created and sent to the other 100 UK prisons in which Storybook Dads operate, potentially reaching hundreds of new beneficiaries.

We are still continuing our programme of small donations, but we have also got to the point where we are considering the long term future and direction of the Hitchhiker Foundation. Watch this space for more news, and if you have any suggestions for charities or projects for us, please get in touch.

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