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Letter of Gratitude from Annie Richey PDF Print
August 15, 2015
By Jody Aston, Editor, and Annie Shambo Richey

Annie Richey
Many of you know Annie Richey, who lived in Cayo Quemado with Tom Gensemer, of Cayo Quemado Sails and Rigging. While she was on the rio, Annie established a wonderful foundation called GirlsEmpo, or in Spanish, ASOEMPO (Asociación Empoderamiento), to empower young girls in the Livingston area to improve their lives. She and a young local woman, Sonia Lemus, founded a secondary school, attended by more than 100 children from ten rural indigenous communities – half of them girls. They even provide schoolboats, which serve as ‘bus’ transportation so all children can get to the school. They also created and continue to operate a community-based girls club, where over 50 girls can learn, play and develop self-confidence. Rio Dulce Chisme Vindicator carried a story about this work that you can read here.

Students at Work on their Computers
Annie no longer lives on the Rio Dulce but is still on the Executive Board and very involved in the operation and development of GirlsEmpo. She wrote a letter, recently, thanking the many generous supporters and donors from Rio Dulce and from abroad, for the donation of computers and equipment, and the construction of a new building to house a computer classroom at the school in Livingston.

We are sharing Annie’s letter here, interspersed with photographs of the opening day celebration, and students hard at work on their new computers.


Muchísimas gracias for the generous support of all those who helped bring to reality the new computer classroom in our middle school INEB Barra de Lámpara, Improving the lives of and opening opportunities for more than 120 adolescent girls and boys and their families from 10 rural communities!

For your generous donation of funds for the computers, the generator and improvement of the building, thank you Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation of Rochester, NY (the primary funder), Michele Richey (my mom),  and The municipality of Livingston.

For donation of funds to pay the computer teacher, thank you Luis Xol (who is running for alcalde de Livingston, and is from Lagunitas Salvador, one of the 10 villages), and Barbara Jenks (Tom’s mom).

To the local businesses who donated services, we give special recognition for their help in improving the lives of children and families here on the Rio Dulce. Thanks toTom Gensemer at Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging – for coordinating the shipment and safe delivery of the computers to the school; Karen de Lopez, and RAM Marina for the safe storage of the computers until we had a good weather window to get them downriver, and Jose Guzman of Transcargo Shipping for the safe shipment and the super discount on the shipping charges to get the computers from Miami to Rio Dulce, and Jody Aston of Rio Dulce Chisme Vindicator.


Thanks also to: Worldwide Computer Exchange for their vision in refurbishing computers and making them available at greatly reduced costs for the education of those living in poverty around the world

For two US volunteers who came to help setup the computers and ensure they worked properly: Ian & Albert Pierz, sons of one of my good friends Leslie Paulson and to Sonia Lemus for coordinating their visit.

Also a huge thanks to the implementation team: Tim Anderson and Paul Woodward of World Computer Exchange, director of the school Julio Escobar, Nancy Ramirez and Sonia Lemus of ASOEMPO, and our new computer teacher Brandon Guzman!

With love and hope for the children of the 10 communities who attend our middle school: Barra de Lámpara, La Angosutra, El Cedro, Plan Grande Tátin, Tox Bijal, Creek Maya, Lampara Arriba, Lagunitas Salvador, Creek Jute, y La Pintada!!!

Annie Richey

P. S. Words from the school director:

Es un centro de computación bastante completo con máquinas en buen estado. Que muchos jóvenes y padres de familia están muy agradecidos Dios bendiga a los donantes y tu persona Annie. Julio pan Escobar. Director.

(roughly translated) The computer center is fairly complete and the machines are in good condition. Many young people and parents are grateful. God bless the donors and your person, Annie. Julio pan Escobar. Director

Click for links to GirlsEmpo website and Facebook page



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