What’s the Latest News from Wanblee?

After taking a 2 week break from blogging due to a very busy month that included an enjoyable visit from my daughter and two grandsons, getting my mother-in-law settled in here for the summer, getting my garden in order and doing all those chores we put off until warm weather arrives, I finally have  time to sit down and write something. The time off blogging has not been  wasted though as I’ve been sewing summer items for the children and perusing the blogs and library books for ideas for the children we help on the Rez.

I had a nice conversation yesterday with Theresa High Horse who is our contact person on the Rez for the Wanblee project.  We discussed the local happenings there so thought I would share some of the things I learned. It’s been really difficult trying to connect with Theresa as she has no computer access and must use a Rez cell phone which is dysfunctional half the time partly due to the carrier they must use for phone service. The Rez has been hit with numerous rain and electrical storms this summer so has lost power and cell tower function off and on making it hard to communicate. All the rain has made roads difficult to travel on especially in the outlying areas that are not easy to access unless you have 4-wheel drive, which most people don’t.  The Wisconsin group is donating a computer to Jerome and Theresa  and I will purchase a digital camera so we can get photos of the kids in action and allow you to see some of the people and the programs we help.

A big thanks to everyone who has sent items to Theresa and Jerome. They always find a place where the items will be put to good use, those items not specified for a specific program are given out to those in greatest need. The baby project is going strong, new moms are able to receive some essentials for their newborns. Most moms that live in Wanblee cannot go to Healthy Start and take part in their educational programs or receive goods that those living closer to Pine Ridge get as it’s a 220 mile round trip.  That would require a car and money for gas, resources most don’t have.  Funding cuts to the Healthy Start program have left them without the needed funds to travel to the outlying areas around the Rez.  Many of the moms in Wanblee deliver in Rapid City so again do not  get the baby bags that are given to moms at Pine Ridge Hospital in Pine Ridge Village. Theresa is in contact with  the Wanblee clinic nurse who oversees the maternity patients to try to get needed items into the hands of more new moms or moms with young children.  So that means more diaper bags are needed and of course everything else that a new mom and baby need. There is big need at the moment for newborn diapers, undershirts/onsies, nightgowns and sleepers. She also plans to hook up with the Community Health representative who visits people in their homes and often goes to the outlying areas .

Children are out of school now but many need remedial education.  The Kadoka Public School system (located off the Rez) has rented the Kennedy Hall for their June-July  summer school program which includes some Rez students that attend regular school there and also students from Crazy Horse school.  School hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm  with lunch being served.  Children can also receive breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday at Crazy Horse School.  This rental will provide some badly needed funds for the Kennedy Hall.

The books that have been sent in are being used for a summer reading program at the Kennedy Hall.   Children are going to read as many books as they can and write a book report on one of them and present it to the group. The summer activity center Jerome and Theresa want to start has been put on hold until these programs are over. It is probably better as they are involved in helping repair homes during the summer when they have the weather in their favor  and looking for resources for families who often come knocking at their door.  Also I just heard South Dakota is going to a 4 day school week to cut costs. Friday may be a good day to hold the activities at the Kennedy Hall.  Crazy Horse school has fired many of their staff members so new people must be hired before the end of the summer.

The Pow Wow in Wanblee takes place in mid July so some of the books, craft and sewing items  being received will be used for children’s activities during the Pow Wow. In past years many children sat on the sidelines while their parents participated in the events but this year Marilyn, Theresa’s sister, has activities planned thanks to all of your donations to the program.  They are going to make the regalia for the kids from the fabric and notions they received from us and from what items they find on the Rez. Shawls and dresses and capes for the girls and grass skirts/loin cloths for the boys are being made.  Marilyn also applied for and received a grant that will fund half the cost of the program and is eagerly awaiting the funding .

The Wanblee kids want to have a regular baseball team and are in need of balls, gloves and bats. Two men in Wanblee do what they can to run the games but they have a limit as to how much of their own resources  they can donate to the program.  Soccer  balls and basketballs would be welcome as well. Board games, puzzles,  appropriate DVD’S, books and craft items for the various ages  for the activity program are also needed for those rainy day and evening activities.

There is talk of a possible thrift store being started  in Wanblee. The Wisconsin group that is working along side us will be coming to the area in July to look into this possibility. This could provide the local community a place to buy goods as well as help provide funding for activities needed in the community with any profits.  Material donations- clothing, furniture, etc that come in would be sold for a nominal amount to the residents, of course those in emergency situations could receive items for free.  Please note that items you send for the various programs would not be sold in the shop.

So this brings you all up to date with the latest news from the Rez, the next blog will focus on a sewing or craft activity.

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