Minutes of SPES meeting on Sunday 25 May 2008, commencing at 1537pm at Rue Jules Breton, Paris.
Present: Njördur Njardvik, Claude Voileau, Michelle Voileau, Brian Roberts, Robert Knudsen, Alain Voileau, Marianne Bargil, Eliane Knudsen, Claude Gbedey, Randall Czerenda, Clara Wajs, Elisabeth Franckson, Jacques Pante, Francis and Simone Altglas, Bruno Veber, Bera Thorisdottir, Philippe Etienne, Françoise Crozes De Medeiros, Ragnheiður Olafsdottir, Jean-Marie de Rubinat, Lena Magnusdottir.
Have sent excuses: Klaus Frösén and François Mercier.
The President, Njördur Njardvik welcomed members to the 2008 General Assembly and the Vice President confirmed that the meeting complied with legal requirements in that the correct number of members were present.
Njördur Njardvik reported that the general situation in respect of finances, construction, care of the children and support for Kélégougan school was very good. He welcomed the architect Henri Appety and other new members.
Njördur Njardvik said that the fourth and last dormitory is 98% complete with only the tiles, entrance floor and bathroom remaining. Therefore construction of the SPES home in Lomé is almost finished. The playgrounds remain to be completed. The architect, Henri has already drawn up plans for roads to be built.
Njördur Njardvik went on to say that we should be very pleased for we have built seven houses in six years. He said that it would not be a good idea to take the adjacent plot, which currently is used as a football ground, but behind the centre is a school for handicapped children which is now closed and abandoned. Claude Gbedey proposes that we try to obtain this land for use by our teenagers.
In Kpalimé, the second project is well advanced. The refectory is almost finished and the first dormitory is up to the second floor. The problem is a shortage of cement which has delayed the work. Hopefully we can resume around the end of the year. A search for personnel is underway and recruiting should start towards the end of the year or the beginning of the next.
Regarding the school at Kélégougan, we wanted to help them improve. We gave them electricity and furniture and built a secure perimeter wall, including a house with three classrooms. Also, we had paid for special training for the teachers. He proposed about 60,000 Euros this year for equipment. The plan now is to build the second floor on the house already completed, plus another house. This helps the school in many ways, for example new classrooms bring new teachers, so the number of children per class reduces. WE have been working width the children’s parents in an effort to facilitate what they need and this is a benefit for all the children in Lomé – this can only enhance SPES’s reputation.
There are now 87 children in care and the 88th is due soon, with 10 more to follow later. The newest children are four sisters and brothers with Icelandic sponsors. Generally the children’s health is good but the work at the school is not as satisfactory as before. Equipment is not properly cared for.We have hired a psychologist, for it is important that children get answers to their questions as they get older. An orphanage is never ideal but we do our utmost to work as well as possible. We require staff to treat the children with love and care so that they feel well and secure in their own home. It is difficult to monitor this from Europe but have confidence in the local staff. We do not want tatas who do not look after the children. There are abuse stories from ll over the world – physical, mental and sexual. We must be extremely careful. Our home, however, is better than most.
There is no kindergarten in Kpalimé. Our children should mix with others, so last year we decided to build a kindergarten there. We have plot but construction has not started. .
v The idea for a project in Brazil came to nothing
v In Senegal, the cost was unrealistic, so was not accepted due to the expense
v In Cameroon, there is a realistic project but the problem is a lack of contact and a lack of information. Suddenly on 23.5.08 we received an email with information about a house, staff and possible costs. But we need contacts, people we know and can trust. So NN proposed that we wait for reassurance. Before making any decisions. This was agreed..
v There is a new idea from Randall Czerenda – the USA will study the possibility of starting a project in Haiti, with one of their people responsible. Njördur Njardvik proposed that Randall Czerenda researches further and reports to the Council of Administration in January, including ownership of land. This was agreed.
Njördur Njardvik proposed that Claude Gbedey should study the possibility of obtaining the former school in Lomé for the handicapped.. The cost is not known, but should be included in the study. This was agreed.
Claude Voileau presented his report (the auditor was not present).
Claude Voileau proposed the budget for 2008:and this was agreed.
Claude Voileau also proposed
v approval of the 2007 accounts and this was agreed with special thanks to Claude Voileau.
v 35 Euros subscription – agreed.
v 77 Euros sponsorship per child per month and any surpluses to be used for construction – agreed.
v 180,000 Euros expenses for investments. 10,000 Euros to finish the home, 61,000 Euros for the Kélégougan school and 109,000 Euros for Kpalimé - agreed.
In reply to a question from Robert Knudsen, Claude Voileau confirmed a bank balance of 450,000 Euros.
In reply to a question from Catherine Wajs, Njördur Njardvik said that one of the girls is deaf and requires special education, for which a special budget has been created. When the required amount is known, a special sponsor will be sought.
Francis Altglas asked about the reaction of the State to the creation of schools and Njördur Njardvik pointed out that we only help to build on what exists already, in cooperation with the State. Our objective is to try to make schools better.
In reply to a question from Jacques Pante, Claude Voileau confirmed that the amount of the water drilling was included in the budget.
Claude Voileau said that there are approximately 380 members of SPES.
Njördur Njardvik reported that 86,000 Euros remain in an Icelandic bank awaiting exchange and transfer.
Njördur Njardvik said that three members had resigned for various reasons and the Council of Administration had provisionally replaced them with Bera Thorisdottir, Rietje Kasteel and Randolph Czerenda. He asked the General Assembly to confirm this, which was agreed.
He added that next year, the whole Council of Administration will have to be renewed with a new board.
The President thanked all the present and closed the meeting.
The President, The Secretary,
Mr. Njordur Njardvik Mr. Brian Roberts