Saturday, January 14, 2012

School supplies, scholarships, and cooking pots

From Kathy:
Day 7 or 8 in San Antonio Palopó and time flies.  With some urgency we are getting the scholarship students sorted out, trying to keep within our budget.  Felipa was up rather late last night figuring out school fees and school supplies.  This year we will include transportation costs for the students going to high school. In exchange, they will help  some younger children who are not doing well in school.  This will be a great savings for the families.  One young fellow is taking an exam to take a course in automotive mechanics.  Aside from nursing and teaching that is the most sensible plan I have heard!

At noon today I went to visit a family that we have been giving support to so that the older daughter could go to school rather than to work.  The Mum is a widow of 4 years now and we thought this would help her get back on her feet.  It is not happening quite as we had hoped and the daughter who is 15 and would only be going into grade 5 doesn´t want to go back to school.  Who can blame her -- she´s just plain too big!  I hope we can find some other options for her but she seems to want to go to Guatemala City and work as an ´ama de casa´, looking after children, cleaning, etc.  She and her 4 younger siblings live with their mother in a very tiny concrete block house.  I think the house is just getting too small.

While having lunch back at the hotel, a former scholarship student came to say she is not returning to school as she did not pass her year..... one failing mark and she has to do the whole year over again.  This gal is having difficulties at home with her parents she tells me, and she seems quite depressed.  There is a psychiatrist who comes once a month so I will try to get her an appointment.

After this I went to the Centro where 50 women who received stoves in December  were waiting to receive their pots and pans and have a little fiesta.  It was great, they thanked us and the donors profusely for providing stoves and pots.  We had cake and juice, handed out pots, gave speeches and then turned on the music only no one would dance except for one woman who got up to dance with me!  The rest laughed a lot.  One woman gave me a ´cinta´ which is a long hand woven colourful´thing´ most use to put up their beautiful long black tresses -- then she did my skimpy grey hair with it.  They laughed at that too!

As soon as the fiesta was finished we cleared the floor and chairs for the smaller group of scholarship students and their mothers (as it turned out, no fathers).  Some we helped last year but there are quite a few new ones and they are going in all different directions for school.  Felipa read  them  the ´rules´and they all signed papers saying they will comply!!  I took pictures of each one and then we  gave school supplies to those who are in the equivalent of middle school.  The others will get theirs on Sunday.  I get rather emotional when I see how much it means to them to have this (your) help.

Tomorrow I and the dental team will continue working but Saturday we will all have a day off, hire a van and go to Iximché, about 2 hours (and only 45 K) away.  Iximché is a Mayan Archaeological site, not very developed but quite a beautiful location and the last place to be built before the Spanish came.  I am going to check it out with the idea of taking a bus load of children from here one day.  Many haven´t been very far out of the village and being able to learn about a bit of their own history seemed like a good (and fun) idea.  Also it is a lot of wide open space, if I recall correctly, and I thought we could take soccer balls and the kids could run wild -- not much room to do that in this vertical village where there is no grass.

All for now!

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