1996,9 March: I went to the school to visit and meet the new teacher. She appears eager to teach and knows about the problems of teacher attendance the last 2 years. During the last 6 months I had collected many school supplies and several new reading books for the "library". If the association is not being asked to help the ongoing building at least I can focus on building minds. The children love the brightly colored books brought by Lapa Rios guests - Clifford the Big Red Dog books are favorites.
14 April: We have been informed, notasked, the community has placed a pipe in the Lapa Rios forestreserve to receive water directly from one of the little streams.The well is no longer being used - "The water is notany good."
12 June: I was asked to attend a school board meeting!Because communication helps solve problems, I was more thanwilling to go. The results: the teacher wondered about thepast years' breakdown (I shared as best I could what I hadwatch happen, without mentioning names) and the majority ofthe board members want to meet again with the associationto repair relationships and begin new building projects. Thepresident and vice president of the junta were not presentat the meeting to begin conversations nor were they presentat the next meeting when all 7 members of the associationcame together at the community's request. It appears that,without the votes of these 2 members of the junta, the organizationof families is again stopped from proceeding. Patience, patience.
Sept.: The school families, headed by the junta,decided to stage a "fiesta" to earn money for reparationof the school floor. The National Guard had donated ceramicblocks to pave the floor and the families wanted to get theminstalled because the concrete floor was breaking apart. Byhaving a "queen" contest the children solicitedmoney from neighbors, tourists visiting the area, etc. LapaRios supported the winning "Queen Dyana", havingbacked her with matching funds! Great incentive for a 12 yearold. With local fanfare, there were games, soccer games, a"carera de cintas" (a Spanish game of a horse ridertrying to snatch the gold ring on a spear while riding a fastas possible), and lots of BBQ food. It was a pleasure to seethe families of the school organizing and working togetheron a project. Floor tiles have been put down. A beginning...
Nov.: 2 children passed their grade 6 exams andmost of the children passed to the next grade.
April, '97: 2 of the local English speaking neighborsare teaching English classes to the children once a week.Almost all of the children are staying after school to begintheir lessons. With so many tourists in the area, and localguides working showing off how important English is to tourism,the children want to learn. And, as William (age 11) toldme, "It's fun knowing words your parents don't know!"Another USA neighbor has donated a typewriter to the teacherfor her lessons. My faith in educated people is being restored.
A new wrinkle: The only high school in the Osa Peninsula isin Pto. Jiménez. They have approached the Asociaciónfor funding to build a classroom building to supplement theirspace and relieve some of the pressure for space. The committeeis to submit plans, costs, etc.
The Pto. Jiménez primary school desperately needs 40desks. They, too, were told to submit a design, building costs,etc. to the Asociación. What will be the response fromthe Carbonera School when they start seeing the Asociacióndonating funds to other worthwhile projects in education?
May: Some of the school members asked if the wellcould be bulldozed to create a soccer field of regulationsize. Once a gift is given it no longer belongs to the donor-thewell belongs to the school. Consequently, the well (only thethird! attempt for water) was bulldozed and a playing fieldawaits grading and seeding. (We learned later that some ofthe father's went into the stream in Lapa Rios and have createda gravity water supply-without asking permission. Oh well...no pun intended.)
The Asociación has received its first request in almost2 years from the Carbonera School: please purchase suppliesand textbooks for the school. The request is being filledbut with difficulty in that the school year is already 3 monthsin session and not many textbooks can be found. Because thesoccer field is a community facility, supporting local "spirit",the Asociación is more than willing to participatein this project. We've heard the teacher and junta are writinga letter for help.
Aug.: Our teacher has left, along with her 7 extendedfamily members. The community decided that a whole familyliving in a house meant only for a teacher and a spouse wastoo much. There were some other deciding factors...
For now, maybe until the end of the school term, we will havea substitute teacher from Pto. Jiménez. She is a young,active teacher but is not interested in living at the school;this morning she hitched a ride in our truck, arriving 1 hourlate. The kids were delighted to play until she arrived, however,when classes are only 2 1/2 hours daily... Her focus untilthe end of the year is to prepare the sixth graders for theirexam. And the other 24 students?
Nov.: The school finished with most children attendingup until the end of the year. The education was not at thelevel that some of the parents are demanding. Next year thenew teacher-a man from town who has been at the high school-hopefullywill unify the community.
the junta did ask the asociación to construct securitybars for all the windows, build new desks for the childrenand create a drain system to keep water out of the school.