It´s hard to catch Suzie Black these days…she and her foundation with the spiritual Shambala have come a long way since talking to abcMallorca last winter.
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“It all started by wanting to help a couple of kids roughly the age of my own children and then it quickly turned into a full time job,” Suzie remembers laughing, when we finally meet. She is about to hop on a plane headed towards her original hometown London in search of more sponsors. The non-profit association that works with disadvantaged youths on Mallorca has grown and more financial support is needed. President Suzie Black and vice-president Antonia Llompart cannot only count on private and public donations, and have therefore come up with the brilliant project of Euro4Education.
Books, matriculations, bus passes and gym classes cost money which the dozen youngsters currently participating in the programme do not have. The campaign is based on adding one euro automatically to the bill of customers in various businesses. “Last year we only approached restaurants,” Antonia explains, but Shambala`s wish for 2016 is to develop the campaign and work with other businesses such as golf courses, service industries, retail shops etc.
Antonia, a former real estate expert from the island, who fortunately provides local knowledge and contacts, has presented the project to several private schools where parents who face rather pricey monthly schools fees have committed themselves to pay one additional euro which goes go Shambala.
The fundraising levels achieved last year showed how well Euro4Education worked in the hospitality industry – in spite of the fact that, for many different reasons, in the end only four restaurants (Rotana, Rialto Living, Can Costa, and Coast by East) from different parts of the island took part. “This year, we are more prepared, we want to start earlier and approach a lot more eateries,” Suzie says.
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The two energetic women who consider themselves “perfect partners” met by chance via a mutual friend. “I think Antonia was sent to me by the universe,” jokes Suzie, who founded Shambala in 2013. “I´ve always had a very blessed life but I have to say that hardly anything gives me more joy than Shambala,” she says and her eyes light up. Both mothers, not only of their own kids but also, at the moment approximately 12 more, the two leading ladies of the institution they lovingly call “la familia” support young people who are lacking financial means and/or a traditional family structure in order to receive a proper education.
Some have had substance problems, some might have been in trouble with the law – many arrive with little self-esteem at the doorstep of the foundation but, as Suzie points out, they go there because they want to change their lives. “If you´re prepared to fight then we can help that´s what we always tell them,” Suzie says.
If they are willing to believe in a brighter future Shambala provides them with the tools which are based on a programme of psychological help (mentoring), education (including extra tuition), community service (to make them see that there are others even less fortunate) and a gym membership (fitness and martial arts which is often the hook to get them involved, and also a constructive outlet for the frustrations many of them are dealing with). Their aim is not only to give them skills and knowledge but also control, discipline, and trust in themselves and their abilities.
In 2016, they want to continue to promote the importance of preventative projects such as Shambala and break the cycle of despair many of Mallorca´s youth are stuck in. “It statistically costs less to educate a youth than it does to provide rehabilitation, imprisonment, or homeless shelters,” Suzie states matter-of-factly.
“ We have a fabulous, professional team plus many helpful volunteers who support us but, especially for the Euro4Education project, we need more helping hands, people who promote our concept,“ Suzie explains – full of passion, full of purpose. “We need to create a team of people that can assist in this campaign.“
So, if you can spare some time, please contact Shambala to support them with your manpower – or maybe next time you see an extra Euro (4Education) on your restaurant bill after you´ve enjoyed a nice meal, remember that every little helps…
Education in Mallorca
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