Friday, January 20, 2012

Busy, productive week in San Antonio Palopo

Our Scholarship Students

Filling the bags - scholarship kids help at the Centre
What a productive week. All the scholarship students have met, handed in their school financial requirements, received their school supplies, had their inscription and tuition fees paid for January and have started school. There are 17 of them, 11 in middle school and 6 in high school.  I am trying to learn their names. Once I can see beyond the sameness of the traditional dress of the girls I can identify faces. With the boys there is a sameness of non traditional dress...T-shirt and jeans and that doesn´t make it any easier. About 100 other primary school children each received a bag full of school supplies that they are required to have. We thought we would be receiving 100 filled bags however the supplies came in cartons of paints, crayons, notebooks, pencils etc so we had to organize an assembly line.  A child would go down the line with a bag if it was a boy  or a servietta if it was a girl.  All women and girls carry these squares made of the same material as their huipiles or blouses.  Then they tie them up and carry things on their heads.  Their posture is unbelievable.  I was amazed at how smoothly the whole operation went.... thanks to most of the scholarship students and a few other volunteers who helped us out.

Meanwhile, the sun shines, the wind blows and it is incredibly beautiful here. Momentarily the pressure is off but it is only momentary! Next comes planning the Centro Qawinaq activities - all within a budget of course.  It is quite easy to get carried away as there are so many possibilities. We are looking at wages..... have to hire one or two part time people, painting the walls, buying a couple more sewing machines and a pila - a sink like fixture where dishes can be washed.  As well as a rent increase. The price of electricity in Guatemala (privatized) is always going up and our use of the Centre increases. Felipa, our coordinator, is anxious to get things going again after the holidays and the beginning of school. We are planning a meeting of the board of directors.  We will be looking for new members as some have moved on to other things. It is a bit tricky for us who don´t know much about the relationships in this tightly knit, interrelated village! But we will be meeting and planning a visit with the new mayor who evidently is educated and may be the first literate one!It  may help if they know about the Centro Qawinaq and about InnovativeCommunities.Org.
I have begun talking with CONALFA, the government literacy organization which gives classes to adults who haven´t managed to get their primary school education.   We have supported them in some way for the last 4 years.  They have been using the Centre for holding at least one class that meets twice a week for 3 hours.  There is a new coordinator and she would like to continue to be able to use the space.  So we will be factoring that into our schedule of activities too.  
And on it goes... . I keep seeing people who want to talk to me about getting some kind of assistance. Some of it is really basic, like food, clothes; others want to go on to school, or need money  to buy something, or a loan. The price of onions is down, no one is making money weaving.  There are very few tourists.  

All for now!

Two happy kids gratefully holding their new school supplies

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