February 18, 2011
Today was Friday and it was a fiesta day at school. The Dominicans celebrate “Student Day” with a fiesta of fun and food! The tradition calls for students to dress with their Sunday best for school and to bring a gift to share with the students. The gift is usually some sort of food or something to drink. Only a few students are able to bring something in Habanero, but the teachers add a little something and we add a little something and suddenly we have a full blown party!
Yanet brought her television and a neighbor brought their DVD player and we started the day watching a DVD, which is a real treat for the children. While the children watched the DVD the adults were busy making the food. One child brought bologna, another a pc of cheese, there was some potato salad, crackers, cola, 7up, suckers, the works! We ended the fiesta with presentations of a special gift to one child with the best attendance from the 4year old, kindergarten and 1st grade classes.
We are trying to reinforce the value of attending school regularly. A higher attendance rate is one of the long-term projects close to my heart. The project really requires someone to be here all the time helping the teachers with the program and leading by example. It seems a simple concept, and something we take for granted in the USA. Here it is more complicated. Many parents do not read or write. Even if you have an education the unemployment rate is hovering at 75% here so there is no work. The value of education is not clear in this village. It takes consistency, longevity and commitment to a generation of children for them to really understand the value of education. I see education leading to results of employment in the future and basic needs being met. But for the time being, for these children education is a self-esteem builder. I see them proudly walking to school with their uniforms – and happily repeating the abc’s and 1,2,3’s for me. Sometimes even in English!
And so we work day by day, minute by minute, one child at a time which brings hope for the future!
For the Children,
Scott & Brenda