Letter from Zapallal - May 2012
I am writing this on a day off. Tuesday, 1st May is a national holiday – Day of the Worker; for us the feast of St Joseph the Worker – and it was decided to make it a very long weekend. The school is almost quiet but there is a training session for the girls’ basketball squad and the coach has the tendency to show his annoyance by raising his voice somewhat.
So we finish the month on a religious note just as we started it. We had a group of pupils from here and our four schools in Lima for the Pascua Juvenil on the last three days of Holy Week. It was time for praying, thinking, sharing, singing and enjoying the company of others. It went off very well and was one of the most peaceful we have had here. There were plenty of hugs and tears at the end. They had a very inspiring Way of the Cross, displaying the usual creativity and imagination. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were our Easter holiday. It’s funny that after all my years here in Peru I still find it strange to work on Easter Monday (and Boxing Day) but my pleas for special consideration fall on deaf ears.
We have had a lot of hammering and drilling in the streets as the water company changed the water meters. I can’t believe it has been done without charges to the customers. The company is infamous for its treatment of the users. Some of the stories and situations you hear of seem to be beyond belief but are only too real and there appears to be no means of appeal. I don’t know what the new meters are like but the old ones were very attractive to thieves for scrap metal. For a time our metalwork department had a nice little business providing thief-proof grilles.
There were celebrations for the Day of the Earth. The primary classes had displays of lots of objects made from recycled materials – very colourful and inventive. The secondary pupils had various competitions – posters on the theme of protecting the environment, creating flowers out of balloons, a treasure hunt seeking things of nature, large jigsaw puzzles of trees with the doer blindfolded and guided only by the directions of a companion from a distance which diminished rapidly as the competition neared its end! The highlight for me was the fashion display with the clothes made from recycled materials. The wedding couple,(the bride’s dress made from art paper and the groom’s suit from black plastic bags) the elegant couple (the evening gown made from a roll of very thin plastic daubed with paint) and the folklore couple(the girl’s skirt made from cut up newspapers) were particularly impressive. And finally, as always, there were dances, again with the clothes made from recycled materials. My favourite was the 4th year group performing salsa. The girls’ costumes were attractive and the dancing was good.
May sees the beginning of university and further education terms, so it has been very pleasant this month to welcome back many former pupils eager to give an account of their new life and progress. We have quite a few following further studies but, as I have said several times, some will have to drop out as they will not have the money for fees, fares and materials. A sad blow to their hopes. I have just received an email from a girl in a very prestigious Institute saying that if she pays the fees she won’t have money for fares so she doesn’t know what to do. Other former pupils come back to talk about jobs they have to help fund further studies. Others relate how they can’t find work so the future is not too bright.
For me studies and health are the biggest preoccupations. In studies so many gifted pupils will not be able to pursue their dreams. Fear of being ill or injured haunt people as the system of health does not include pity. Money up front or forget treatment. A three year old girl fell on some glass and cut herself badly with blood pouring out. Mum, a former pupil, rushed her to the clinic. First question was, did she have her ID document. Then they informed her that the child needed five stitches and she was asked if she had the money to pay and when the answer was no they said they would simply clean her up but give no further treatment. It always surprises me how the people are so positive and optimistic.
May will see lots of activities – Mother’s Day, Founder’s Day and the celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the Brothers coming to Peru but more of that next time. May this month be a lovely one for you all with the on-going blessings of the Easter season.
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