Taking on a new school!

Posted July 13, 2013 @ 6:08pm | by Comunidad

Taking on a new school!

July 13, 2013 Fundacion Comunidad Pam Hoff

In March we took on a new inicial center in the far away, way up high village of Chaupiuasi. The teacher must leave her home in the capital city of Ayacucho, Huamanga, on Monday morning about 3:00 AM to bus for several hours. Then she is met by a horse and rides the rest of the way up to the village. The little combi bus only goes so far for one passenger. And you thought your commute was tough!

We arrived there in our private van, rented on our behalf by Victor, employee of Comunidad's, who handles much of our negotiations right in the villages. He is an essential right hand guy for Humberto, because many villagers do not speak Quechua, and Victor does. We were met by singing tiny children, who seemed to have lost the bred-in shyness. All three of us women had a tot on each hand and one on each one of them. Ah, how many can I take home?

We were met by all the mothers and many fathers, as if they work in the fields, they stopped to be present to properly greet us. Inside the most colorful, clean, well-organized classroom I have ever seen in my years of visits, we found a beautifully decorated retablo used for the "Walter Ebertz Memorial Biblioteca". It could use more pre-school books, but was otherwise in obvious use by the teacher.

Speaking of the teacher, Sonia, she was a breath of fresh air. Her organization skills included an illustrated lesson plan book, used daily......for preschool! Nobody tells my employers at my school or else. The furniture in the room was new, well cared for, and appropriately brightly painted in primary colors. Imagine: each table was a different bright color and the chairs were all brightly colored one of five colors, too.

The children performed some numbers for us and then we all ate and began the long good-bye. Humberto thought I might recommend a raise for Sonia, since she works harder and longer than any of our professors, or any of the governmental employed professors. On top of this, she works harder than any to arrive. I agreed on behalf of the Foundation to a 100 sole raise each month.

There had been a rumbling about a new village needing our help. This one was even more higher elevation. Are we even sure this is possible? Yes! It was at 12,000 feet - this Patawassi. It is also the most far flung from Huamanga. We drove the 3 hours to a point where there was no more road, but the hint of one in the future. Men were working on a bridge over the river. We crossed the precarious boards laid across a small distance from the worker crossing and then got on a horse. Now, some people's sisters would have gladly marched up the mountain, but the 4 of us (counting Victor), were happy to take a too small horse. The grade was so steep that I was sliding back off the horse and had to grasp the main in both hands and twist it around my fingers. After about an hour - voila! Patawassi.

The people had been asking us for another high school teacher to add to their one, paid for by the government (although he hasn't been paid since April). There are only 20 students, but it apparently is inhumane to expect one teacher to teach 4 subjects. Okay, this you may tell my inhumane employers anytime you want. Poor teacher! Speaking of teachers, there are 4 for the 120 elementary students, but where were they. It was 10:00 in the morning on a Friday. Oh, they had all left on Thursday. They had convinced us to come up there, even though Comunidad had already agreed to the second teacher in March at our board meeting. The town parents apparently agree that 5 teachers should not work a 3 ½ day work week, but they are powerless to do anything. They didn't even have the keys to the elementary school that I wanted to nose around in. I was a little miffed, but decided to try a different angle to this. I asked Victor to contact the 5 teachers already employed and come meet me on Saturday. I would take them shopping for materials. I figure $100 spent on posters, papers, and other materials and maybe we could develop a relationship.

They are having trouble finding another teacher for 1000 soles in the far away village of Patawassi. Still, I am holding them to that salary (considering how they skip out so much and 2 teachers will switch off in one classroom). If they want to supplement it, fine. Also a word of warning - we don't pay our teachers for days they don't work. The parents were actually pleased - maybe now they could have some control over the shoddy work ethic of teachers.

They also asked for a food allowance. Seems fair - about 300 soles a month. They also want a kitchen and assured me that by August 15th, after break, they would have a new building dedicated to this. Then Comunidad will buy them a stove and dishes - pending inspection by Senor Humberto.

Don't worry, the too small horses didn't have to haul too large carcasses down the mountain. We walked.

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