San Antonio Education and Community Update – November 2021

La Casita in the time of COVID

The past seven months seem to have gone by very quickly. Our apologies for taking so long to give an update. Life is slowly getting back to the pre-pandemic normal but a great many folks are still struggling very hard and many have lost a lot of ground due to the pandemic. There seems to be a lot of fear and anxiety about the future and whether the kids will go back to class or not.

A lot of students did not pass so they are facing a choice of repeating the year or giving up. Unfortunately, many students will not be returning to school due to their need to help the family. The federal government has raised the taxes on electricity usage which is already a burden for many families. And, food prices are up significantly here as they are everywhere.
However, in spite of COVID, and school’s closed, there is a lot happening at La Casita.

Our Administrator, Candelaria, was able to host a vaccination clinic for the staff, becados, parents, and ancianas so that they would be able to ask questions, and have the information they needed to alleviate their fears. All of our staff and becados have had at least one vaccination.

While the school continues to be closed, the children receive packages of school work they need to complete in order to finish their grade. So, the number of children coming to La Casita for tutorial help, access to resources, and space to study has definitely increased. The roof extension over the patio has certainly increased the learning space. However, it isn’t quite enough. This fall, with Gregorio’s advice and expertise, we initiated an ambitious building project – a 2 story extension to La Casita which gives 2 more classrooms, a second bathroom and a hand washing station.

We are currently sponsoring 20 scholarship students – becados. Quite a few are still young, some are in middle school or basico, and a few, like Magaly, are almost ready to move on to University (maybe we can tell you a bit about one of our becados in our next update.) Their expenses vary according to their individual needs. We do expect them to maintain their grades to at least 75% and volunteer their time at La Casita. Two of our becados, Melina and Antonio, are volunteering their time by giving special math and reading classes at La Casita. This month Candelaria is interviewing new applicants and we are hoping to accept six more bright young students from extremely poor families.

Anna Olivia has been active as a part-time activity coordinator and community outreach advocate and has initiated an entrepreneurial sewing project. We bought an industrial sewing machine for the class and she is teaching ten students to use that machine and other sewing machines to produce quality fabric items to sell at the Mercado Global.

The garden is flourishing in spite of the construction work. The builders have been very careful and respectful of the children’s safety and the garden’s produce!! The children love helping German, our care-taker, harvest the good food. The Ancianas are always pleased to have fresh food from the garden for their lunch and sometimes to take home.