Letter from Zapallal - June 2012
May began with great views of the ‘near’ moon in perfectly clear skies. Then we experienced another side of nature with a strong temblor (earth tremor) at 7.45am on 6th May. There were no reports of casualties or much damage but the library certainly shook with all my plant pots doing a jig.
Another bit of a shake-up was the week of exams that followed. The parents have to come receive the mark sheet, so there can be an instant response as the parents often know the results before the pupils who may need more time to find excuses!
Mother’s Day (second Sunday of May) was celebrated on the Friday before. The coliseo was fittingly bedecked and 5th form boys escorted the mothers, after having been given a rose, to their seats. The programme follows a pattern of poems, songs, sketches and dances, interspersed with quotations in praise of mothers. The 4th and 5th years did a sketch showing various ‘types’ of mums. The two best were the executive mum ignoring her child and the bad mood mum. This is not to make a judgment on mums but just to say that the acting of the ignored girl and the bad-tempered mum was brilliant. The 5th year rounded of the celebration with a remix of dances from ‘Grease’ and a more traditional folk dance. All the staff were treated to lunch after which presents were given.
The next week had us celebrating Founder’s Day – 15th May, feast of St. John Baptist De la Salle, patron saint of teachers. In fact the whole week was taken up with various activities – special school assemblies, posters, murals. We had a very nice secondary school mass with excellent singing. In the afternoon, the primary pupils had their traditional procession in honour of the Founder. Classes took turns in carrying the statue on a decorated bier. There were stops where forms had arranged tributes to the Founder and where parts of his biography were read and prayers said. There was also enthusiastic singing. 5th year volunteers acted as stewards. It was a colourful, imaginative and prayerful occasion.
At the end of that week we had the two central days for the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the Brothers coming to Peru. On the Friday evening there was a musical, theatrical gathering at our school in Lima. Our music group and the 3rd year traditional dance were highlights for me and, judging by the applause, for lots of people there. On Saturday we had a Mass of thanksgiving celebrated by a former pupil bishop who talked about when he joined the school in 1940. Afterwards there was a buffet and a photographic exhibition tracing out the 90 years in the various communities. It was quite an eye-opener. Then there was a ports competition between our four schools. Our boys were finalists in volleyball and basketball and our girls were champions in volleyball.
We have been having some very weird weather with mornings damp, misty and chilly, then sunny afternoons returning to chilly evenings. People don’t know what clothes to wear. The damp very easily passes into houses because of their materials and construction so there are lots of colds and sore throats.
We have been saddened by the deaths of three young former pupils, all in accidents. At the moment the school and the local neighbourhood have rallied round to help one of our families. During a big celebration here, when powerful fireworks were used, a rocket landed on their house and because of the materials – plastic, split bamboo and weak hardboard – the house was quickly destroyed by fire. The oldest boy was taken to hospital with burnt hands and severe smoke inhalation, suffered while trying to save the house. The 5th year girl came to explain that she hadn’t done her homework as she had lost all her school things. Then she got very weepy. The family are sleeping on the floor of their nan’s house. The school is helping with foodstuffs and the neighbours with funds for necessities but they still have the massive job of rebuilding their home with very little money to spare. The boy has a scholarship to a university but often family needs take over and studies are sacrificed to earning money for the family. There is, of course, no insurance. A sad note to end on.
May the coming summer be a lovely one for you and yours.
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