San Antonio’s New School – Greetings from Kathy and Penny in Palopo

March, 2020

Thursday was a particularly eventful day for us. Candelaria and Gregorio, our wonderful administrators of La Casita, joined us and the school principal Alma and Jose the representative of the parents’ group, at a meeting with the new mayor of San Antonio Palopo. We came with several topics to discuss, but first he thanked us profusely for the help we had already provided to the new school. The school had received new desks, whiteboards and a projector from us. (The Municipality donated a truck to transport these things, for which we thanked him.) We went on to discuss the land that we bought and gave to the Municipality with the intention of it being used as a sports field. However, it turns out that it is too far away from the school. And, there is a piece of vacant land right next to the school. Our proposal was to sell the land they have, and use the proceeds to help to buy the land adjacent to the school. He listened, but would prefer to keep the land and also buy the adjacent lot.

There was then some discussion of the lack of water at the school. He very quickly said that a  second pipe would be provided. We were thrilled! This is really significant, since water is available about an hour a day, or less.

Fresh from our successful meeting, the six of us headed to the school. We met in Alma’s office to debrief, and were served a delicious and nutritious drink made from fava beans.

Then the fun began, as we visited every room in the school, and were greeted by hundreds of excited children. Some were really open and interactive, others hid. And in the English class, being taught by our wonderful La Casita coordinator, each student had the opportunity to greet us in English and tell us their name.

On the top (4th) floor, there is an auditorium with a stage and open area for chairs. Because there is no other space, the floor area is used for Phys Ed. At the same time, some girls were practising a dance routine on the stage. Very catchy moves!

What is most heart warming is the positive feeling in the school. The classrooms are big enough and noise did not bleed through the walls. One teacher told us it had changed her whole attitude about coming to work, and she finds that the students also seem to be learning with a more positive attitude.

There is more work to be done in the school, on the electrical system, the water system, the computer room. However, it’s there and working!