EchoStars annual report – 2014 Year in review

EchoStars wishes all our supporters a prosperous and fulfilling New Year with huge thanks for all your  support in 2014.

This report summarizes EchoStars (ES) year in review and doubles as our annual report for 2014. Should more detailed information be required please note * the  post script.

Special thanks must as always be given to our long serving committee members who continue to make the operations of EchoStars possible. We welcome several new names to our troop for 2015 ; see our about us page for committee members details. . Our overall thanks go to the many supporters who made our fund raising efforts this year so successful.

Our stars performed with dance, mime, acting and song to make this year's concert super special. Congratulations to all. Our year in review highlight was the ‘Flying West’ concert supported and made possible by renowned Australian composer Ann Carr-Boyd and the Thoroughbass ensemble.

Thoroughbass Ensemble performs Flying West

Thoroughbass Ensemble performs Flying West

Our regular open gardens with afternoon teas and bus tours, speaking engagements at sponsored events for ES such as the Fashion for Development lunch at Bundanoon,  plus the fantastically successful city2surf all added up to an excellent fund raising year. Thank you all for your contribution to our efforts.

With BrightStars School (BSS) completed and the education program functioning well it is set to take on 200 students this year which will include  all the Literacy Program graduates from 2014.

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Literacy Program

We are also hopeful that the ES Literacy Program begun in 2013 will continue in 2015 at BrightStars School to allow students who missed school entry earlier in life to have a catch up year and enable them to enter main stream classes closer to their age group in 2016.

Sewing Program

The cost of fabric and overheads for our sewing  program rose considerably this year prohibiting the continuation of the program for 2015. The cost benefit analysis of the program in relation to our core mission resulted in the decision to suspend the sewing program and focus ES funds on student education; hence the establishment of the Secondary School Scholarship Program (see sub heading below).  The experience and facilities established for this skills training program will be valuable in the years to come. ES has a much better understanding of what is required for such a program to continue long term and give acceptable outcomes against a cost benefit analysis. Any resurrection of the program must begin with a solid and sustainable micro finance model which SLUM and ES have been unable to establish to date.

Computer Program

Computer 2The Computer Program has been very successful and well received by the students. Internet facilities have been established at BSS and the program is earmarked for expansion for 2015 with more computers being introduced. ES raised funds for a Digital Learning Room for BSS this year but SLUM rejected the project proposal based on lack of teacher training and  suitable software in Bangla and SLUM’s  perceived inability to administer the program long term due to high associated costs and the belief that it did not fit their current curriculum model of teaching.  The basic Computer Program however will continue to operate and open the world wide web to BSS students.

BSS Construction Program

The ES school Construction Program has concluded with all rooms ready to be opened in 2015 as part of the expanded Education Program for the increased  number of students to 200.

Ancillary Programs

The health and nutrition program, the music program and community awareness programs will continue as part of BSS overall curriculum for dsc_02932015.

Financial stability for BSS

A  major corporate sponsor based in Dhaka has recently contractually agreed to give full financial stability to BrightStars School for its education program.  EchoStars is delighted that it has been able to see this project rise to a point where we have built the school together with SLUM, introduced and financed various ancillary programs where it is now self sufficient and totally sustainable for the foreseeable future.

2014 – Year in review  – photo gallery.

Secondary School Scholarship Program

EchoStars will continue its affiliation with SLUM and has set up a fund for SLUM to administer with some of the money we raised through 2014 for a ‘Secondary School Scholarship Program’ that will ensure there is no financial barrier preventing BrightStars School students from continuing  their education after grade 5 graduation. The program has funds  for all BSS students  to continue their education to secondary school for the next three years. Ongoing funding will be reviewed in  2017. SLUM will continue to administer this program as part of our affiliation agreement.

Vision for 2015

With BrightStars School now able to exist independently of EchoStars financial support it was resolved to investigate other possible programs for ES to support. ES has prepared a detailed program for 2015 to continue its work for ultra poor children in Bangladesh to receive a basic education. After a reasonably comprehensive consideration of several international NGO’s involved in educational programs for isolated and disadvantaged children  in Bangladesh, Africa and the Pacific Islands, the committee resolved to continue its operations in Bangladesh for the time being and to extend support to another Australian charity  CO-ID (Co-Operation In Development Australia Inc.) working on the remote Bhola Island  in the Meghna / Ganges Delta

Several years ago the previous Australian High Commissioner of Bangladesh, HE Justin Lee introduced ES to the Fred Hyde foundation http://www.fredhyde.org/ (‘Co-operation in Development’ CO-ID) operations on Bhola Island . ES has followed CO-ID as a consequence and  is confident that the mission of CO-ID most closely mirrors that of ES and complies fully with our Constitution. ES has resolved to give ongoing financial support to CO-ID to build and operate a primary school and 2 pre schools.

CO-ID has worked consistently on Bhola Island for the past 20 years in providing primary education to those most in need.

ES is proud to be able to direct its support to CO-ID’s successful track record of having built and operated 41 schools which has enabled over 60,000 children to receive their basic literacy and numeracy skills. CO-ID has been registered with the NGO Affairs Bureau Bangladesh since 1991 (reg # 99), making it a perfect avenue for ES to continue its work.

Fred Hyde who is the founder of CO-ID has recently won Senior Citizen of Queensland. He is 95 and continues to have a hands on and vital roll on the ground in Bhola island each year to personally supervise construction. ES wishes Fred every success as a contender for this year’s Australia Day awards as  Senior Australian of the year; he would be an incredibly worthy recipient and roll model for all retirees.

Remote Bhola Island on the Bay of Bengal

Bhola Island on the Meghna/Ganges Delta, Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh

Supporting CO-ID fits perfectly into EchoStars constitution as it conforms to our overall mission and stated objectives. CO-ID have over 20 years experience in constructing low cost schools and currently run 41 schools in this desperately poor region of the country. EchoStars has prepared a detailed program and budget with CO-ID in order for CO-ID to construct a school and two pre schools for EchoStars and administer them for us. These new schools   will be the responsibility of EchoStars and I look forward to this new challenge. We also plan to support a teacher education program through CO-ID to support better standards of teaching.

EchoStars must work through a registered NGO in Bangladesh in order to fulfill its mission as we have done to date with SLUM and we have been fortunate to find an Australian charity that is also registered with the Bangladesh government as an operational Bangladesh based NGO which we can work in association with. As far as EchoStars understands CO-ID is the only other Australian based charity building and operating schools in Bangladesh. Working with CO-ID will ensure EchoStars is able to continue its mission of building and operating schools in Bangladesh with virtually no direct administrative costs to ES. CO-ID’s operations gives ES assurance of direct supervision in Bangladesh as EchoStars is no longer traveling as regularly to Bangladesh.

EchoStars was able to establish a sister club agreement through the kind sponsorship of Berrima Rotary and Baridhara Rotary Dhaka. ES  is hopeful that Rotary Australia will support the enhancing of our project base so we are able to maintain our World Community Project number with their illustrious organisation which has lent much help to ES this past year. We welcome and give thanks for  the support of Rotary Australia World Community Services (RAWCS) as it gives ES much broader opportunities to achieve its mission to bring the basic human right of a primary education which was outlined in the 1948 Universal declaration of human rights and recently updated as Goal 2 in the Millennium Development Goals and Beyond 2015 to some of the world’s poorest children.

EchoStars is waiting on formal notification from Rotary to allow our RAWCS project parametres to be broadened to enable ES to continue as a World Community Project as we begin our work to support CO-ID on  Bhola Island for the establishment of ES schools and programs there. As stated this is a natural continuation of our project base and represents no change to our basic stated objectives and aims. We intend to maintain our formal affiliation with SLUM through the recently established Secondary School Scholarship Program and the continuation of the Literacy Program which at the time of writing is in final stages of project and budget approval for 2015.

We hope our supporters will enjoy watching EchoStars expand and offer the gift of education to those less fortunate than ourselves as we move into a new year with a promise of great expectations.

With thanks to you all and wishes full of hope, love and kindness for what we can achieve in 2015.

Rose Figtree

*For further details on this annual report such as our set of accounts, Committee Members, AGM minutes, etc please contact rosefigtree@echostars.org for  details.

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