Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Escola Josina Machel, Tete... yesterday...
Even simple, sturdy materials don't last forever. What happens when desks break? Who's responsible for fixing them? Apparently there just isn't extra money to buy the planks needed to fix the desks. They apply for money from the state and don't get it. So, the pile grows.
A renovation was done in 2007. How often are they allowed to repaint? There is no schedule. There is no money. So, years of passing students leave their mark. Cleaning is done by people who sometimes can't physically handle the heavy job. People recovered from TB, for example, just can't stand to be around dust!
In the teacher's room, the walls are hung with materials that are used in the classrooms. I asked if there was enough to go around and they said it is adequate. With 10 usable classrooms, I guess you don't need many posters anyway.
When the school was facing a water shortage, they couldn't use the toilets. They dug latrines instead. The first one is still in use, but this one hit water! So, instead of a latrine they got a well. The water from this hole is used to water plants and clean floors when there isn't any city water coming through the pipes. Better than nothing, but...
This classroom has only screens and no windows, so rain comes in this time of the year. There are also holes in the roof and no ceiling. Several desks are falling apart. The walls need attention and the holes in the floor get bigger every time they are cleaned.
Primary schools in Tete do not officially have libraries. These few shelves are the initiative of the school director herself. Someone gave her a box of books... in English. She can't read them herself, so she decided to put them where kids studying English could try to read them. The little books in her hands are the kind she dreams of having in Portuguese... lots of pictures and text that teaches something. She doesn't have any idea where to get more, plans to set aside the money from school fees to improve the library.
When there is so much that is needed, where do you start? I came with questions about which kids are at highest risk of dropping out. I enjoyed spending time with Veronica. She is lively and has lots of ideas. She has taken initiative in making some books available to kids. More questions need to be asked about how maintenance is paid for and where money comes from and who decides to use it for what. Tricky questions to approach, but donors will want answers. I can't promote projects if there isn't open communication. I have found this lady to be very willing to face the questions and give open answers. She gave me permission to talk about her school. She isn't exactly proud of what they have, but she has dreams of what can be. I think that is one of the keys. With a dream comes vision. With vision, we look for a way ahead.
How do I feel living down the road from this school that receives over 1000 children every day? Knowing that my 3 kids have more books stacked in boxes than they can read? BUT my books are not in Portuguese. My books aren't accessible to the students in her school. Accessible means it should be interesting, available in the right reading level/language and at a reasonable price for the user. Where will the books come from that are accessible to students at Josina Machel School? I still don't know, but I have dreams... and you know what that means!