It is brand new, with lots of windows, bright paint and colourful tiles. The families have been so excited, the children could hardly wait.
10 years ago, a mud slide destabilized their school and 500 children and their teachers had to cope with a dark church basement and then a provisional school built on the plaza above the municipal market place. So everyone has been anxious to have this new school finally open.
But the reality in Guatemala is that there are many problems that need to be addressed such as basic services and equipment that we would expect here in Canada. After opening over a week ago, the school still has no running water. The teachers are bringing plastic jugs of water to flush toilets. There are no sinks for washing hands and cleaning up after snacks. There is electricity but so little that it overloads if a computer is plugged in. There were no desks, or white boards either!
So we have been busy coordinating how best we can respond to this situation, and Candelaria (our administrator) and Kim ( one of our volunteer group members) have met with the school principal and established a list of priorities. Kim, her husband Gene and some local helpers sanded and repainted over 300 old desks from the provisional school.
We have sent money for the school principal to begin purchasing white boards, tables, and other necessities. The water and electricity issues must be addressed by the mayor and municipal government. Unfortunately, this is going to take time, as the elections in Guatemala have meant a new mayor and officials , who just started their duties 2 weeks ago. Poco a poco!!
But there are lots of opportunities ahead. The old provisional school is being torn down and the wood which ICO purchased, will be used by Rotary to build new houses for poor families.
We are building close relationships with the principal of the new school and hope to establish an agreement whereby the students use the learning assistance and library at the Casita on a regular basis. There is no library space in the new school.
Educational opportunities are definitely improving in San Antonio Palopo and thanks to our wonderful donors, we have been able to provide much needed support. Together we are making a difference!!