Today was a quiet day; at least during the afternoon. There has been a bull-dozer up on the hill leveling out a piece of land and building a road. It's back up beeper has been driving me nuts all week. He finally quit work around noon. Ah....peace and quiet.
I spent some time on the loom and Doug went riding. Later we met a couple in Los Organos and ate dinner.
I've been planning my trip back to our friend Luis' home village. I first became associated with this village when Luis put out a rare plea for help. He asked for donations to help the school pave the center courtyard that served as their playground and assembly field. To that point, it was just packed earth, but when the rains came it became a muddy mess. Knowing Luis, and knowing he rarely asked for help, I sent him a donation. This was in March of 2009.
In September, Luis asked us to join him in his village for their annual festival. This festival is a huge event; a two week long celebration including horse shows, fairs, bull fighting, dancing competitions, moto-cross, soccer, and so much more. They set off bamboo towers of fireworks each evening with the grand finale tower being 20 meters high.
One of the most memorable experiences was being ushered into the newly paved schoolyard and being greeted by students, faculty and townspeople. The school kids put on a show for us including dancing and music thanking us for making their courtyard a more usuable place year round.
We were treated like royalty the whole week we were there. We stayed with a local family who included us in all their activities. All of the townspeople welcomed us without question even though we were the only gringos around.
I had the opportunity to visit the school, see their facilities and talk with teachers and students. Their computer lab uses antiquated computers that are very slow. Their internet connection is iffy; it is provided by the Ministry of Education but is unreliable, unavailable much of the time, and slow as well. Teachers told us that students could rarely get on the internet for any length of time within a class period to make it worth while. The classrooms are quite spartan as well. There are rustic blackboards at the front, some desks and chairs. Teachers complained about the chalk dust which accerbated their asthma. Throughout the building, I never saw so much as a stack of books. I guess if you were to imagine a school in a remote part of Peru, in a very poor village, you might picture this.
My friend, Ed from Altanta, Georgia and I have contributed to a fund established for the school to provide internet access separate from the Ministry so students now have a faster and more reliable connection to the internet. Ed is also working on replacing the old computers with newer ones.
Doug and I had hoped to provide white boards for the classrooms this year, but were unable to make this happen. We've contributed funds toward this end, and hopefully they will be in place for next school year.
I will be returning to Santa Cruz in May. I have volunteered to spend a full week in the school teaching English to students. I suspect I'll learn as much if not more Spanish than they will English, but nonetheless it should be a great exchange.
As you may have guessed by now, I am asking for additional donations. If you wish, and are able to contribute, fabulous!; please let me know. I, like Luis, rarely ask for contributions. This has become my adopted school and this is where I hope to contribute some of my talents so it can become a better place for the children of Santa Cruz. Your thoughts and prayers are welcome.