Published: February 3rd 2009February 2nd 2009
Do I have your attention....good, because today was one of those extraordinary, transformational days.
Today began as is typical in Central America....late! We got on the bus (after a good pancake breakfast of course) and then got off the bus as the person who was to meet us was 20 minutes late...but after that, our timing couldn't be more right.
Our task today was to get an incredibly impoverished school ready for the first day of classes. All we knew before we left was that we were going to clean up a school, but oh....it was going to be so much more than that.
We arrived to a building with 6-7 classrooms that housed 480 students in two shifts. Primary in the morning and middle and secondary in the afternoon. We cleaned concrete floored, windowless (there were windows once) classrooms and washed down simple wooden desks (see pictures). We cleaned white boards and raked leaves (often out of the classrooms). We also cleaned up afternoon the man that cut the coconuts out of the trees so they wouldn't fall on the students and injure or kill them. As we worked we pondered many questions....
Nicole: Why can't
we help everyone?...How can children with so little be so happy? These days we are so selfish always wanting the best for ourselves. Today I witnesses something really cool. The Nicaraguan children were eating coconuts and Frankie had asked Tyrel to cut one open for him. However, Tyrel cut it open too much and all the milk spilled out. Frankie was disappointed as he had worked so hard today and was parched. Then Marco (about 8 yrs.) took his full coconut and shared the milk with Frankie...this was an amazing experience for me.
Allison- We came down here to help people that we see as underprivileged, and yet we are constantly reminded in their prayers and words that they are so thankful for what they have. They consider themselves the fortunate, because they are alive and do have food, however meager it is. The people are so thankful, and so willing to share the little that they do have, and view themselves as blessed when they have so little in comparison to what we have.
Christine: Don't hide the lamp under a cover in a dark room, instead let it be put upon a stand for all to
see. Today I was asked by one of the primary teachers if I would be willing to draw on her wall for the children in time for their first day of school. She took me to the room where the young children sit in small, run down, rickety chairs and splinter sided tables. The bleakness of the room shocked me. I had become so familiar with the novelty of colour in my own school when I was in a primary classroom that i couldnt imagine what it would be like to learn in such a place as it was. So I began to start about cleaning and was tapped on the shoulder by a young girl. She wanted to help me clean. A few minutes later five or six kids were there scrubbing the floor and the walls of their school. They weren't complaining, They were smiling and laughing. And when I brought the chalk they all marvelled at why in the world I had these colours? What was I going to do with them? As soon as the chalk touched the wall their faces lit up in delight and struck a chord in my soul. The palm trees I
drew were simple. The waves of the ocean were mere swishes. The dolphin, eagle and horse were shaky in the lines, and the two little children in chalk figures added a splash of colour to the room. but with all the colours of the rainbow i couldnt create brown.... i couldnt make it theirs. there was no brown...I walked outside and dipped my finger in a puddle of mud and drew their eyes.
.....and that ladies and gentleman brings us to lights out for the kids, so unfortunately no more reflections from them. However, the lights rule applies to everyone else so I can keep on going....as we worked, I too had an observation...where were the school supplies...the teacher supplies....a basic whiteboard marker. A plan was hatched to take the principal, who worked with so little but had a simple vision to provide school to the children who couldn't afford school, on a little shopping trip...but first I had to go to the wash room...hmmmmm....check out the picture. How on earth could 480 students come here tomorrow with that one bathroom....another plan was hatched...we much purchase toilets (there was another potential bathroom in worse condition) and hire a plumber.
That was an amazing adventure, (perhaps a story for another blog) but by mid-afternoon, two new bathrooms were well on the way. As our team finished and distributed a few shoes to our many helpers, I went off with the principal to buy school supplies...a truly emotional experience...
Teachers often talk about giving the gift of education. I am not really sure I full understand what that means. Today we (all of you who gave to the school supplies fund, or to the general fund) literally, gave the gift of education. We began by equiping the teachers with such simple basics, paper, pens, whiteboard pens, geometry instruments, day book, flashcards and a clean classroom and school. Truly, these 14 teachers were about to start the school year with nothing, literally, nothing, but themselves and their students...we together gave them more than nothing to work with...and we all know the power education to change a child's life.
So much more could be written about today...our debrief tonight was amazing. I witnessed a group of young people exhausted, but transformed by their day. There were tears and laughter, shared experiences and personal moments, but most of all, a great sense
of purpose moving ahead into our week.
A great day....
Oh, yah, btw (by the way for people who don't speak 'text) in the course of work today, we did use machetes and we did see a scorpion and a tarantula...but hey, nothing to worry about.......
There are more photos below