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Letter from Zapallal: February 2014


This will be a very short account as I have been in England since the end of December and have just a few snippets sent to me from the school with some photos to go with them. You can see from the photos that the weather over there is somewhat different from what we are experiencing over here. Emails inform me that the heat is unbearable.

I probably mentioned last time that our four Lima schools got together to collect and distribute presents for children in four poor villages – NANIPO, Christmas for the poor child. They also played with the children and provided the traditional Christmas fare of paneton and hot chocolate. The participants returned tired but happy. Previously the people involved gathered on the Saturday morning, quickly sorted out groups and presents and off they went. This time they came on Friday evening and spent the rest of the evening and Saturday in a kind of retreat thinking and praying about what they were going to do and what it meant to them. They went to the villages Sunday morning. All involved preferred the longer preparation time.

On 28th there was the official closure of the school year. Primary and secondary had separate clausuras. Certificates and prizes are awarded; achievements recognised and highlights of the year recalled. The photos show the two extremes of the school – kindergarten pupils receiving their certificates and the top group in the 5th year receiving theirs. The point of this group is that schools have to select the top ten (obviously some absent) on their marks over the five years of secondary education. They then are eligible for help in further education. You can see, and it normally is the case, that girls outnumber the boys even though there are fewer girls in the 5th year.

The other big activity for which I have no news or photos, as I’m normally the photographer, was the leavers’ fiesta on 28th. Something they all look forward to and fortunately it is fairly cheap to hire suits or dresses so usually they all look very elegant. When I get back I may be able to gather some photos and include them next time.

The dreaded activity was the matricula, when parents have to re-sign on their children for the coming year or seek places. Some would have queued from 5 o’clock in the morning for a 9 o’clock start. It’s a long process with various parts to it. They are all always very patient, unless someone tries to jump the queue! The outcome of this will be seen when school starts on 10th March. There is also the nightmare of buying the utiles escolares – all the stationery things they will need. The lists for primary pupils are daunting, especially if there is more than one child from the family in school. Personally I think too much is demanded but it is the same for all schools, state or private, and in town you will see hundreds of parents wandering around with the list of things in their hands. Supermarkets and markets realise the financial potential of all this and turn over large areas to the necessary materials. Those of you who are madrinas or padrinos may have been told about the strain of these lists on families but schools have not the funds to provide such basic things as exercise books.

Thank you to all those who help us.

God bless.
Brother Mark


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