Here’s a more thorough account of yesterday’s occurrences:
Keren came to pick me up in a taxi, bringing along her family friend Carlos, the man she recommended to be the local director of the program. Carlos is a 59 year-old English teacher in a nearby private college, so immediately I was relieved to learn that we will be able to communicate directly, in English. He studied at the
The day started off a bit trying as, when we arrived at the street corner, the moms informed us that all of the schools we planned on visiting were closed. We decided to visit the schools anyway, since it would be beneficial for Carlos to at least learn where they are. Since the three moms all wanted to send their kids to different schools, we planned on visiting three.
Surprisingly, the first school we visited was open. I was very impressed with the facility. A ring of classrooms in the shape of a U surround a large, clean open space for recreation. Karla wants to send her 3 kids there. It appeared much nicer than the second school we were planning on visiting – where Ninoska’s mom, Patricia, wanted to send her 4 kids – which I saw when I went to Ninoska’s house last month. Upon seeing this school, Patricia decided that she wanted to send her 4 kids there, too. We felt this was a great decision, since this school seemed to be much nicer and it would make Carlos’ job of checking in on the kids much easier.
So, we filled out some paperwork and paid the entrance fees and tuition for the first 2 months for the 7 kids. Patricia and one of Karla’s kids, Sonia, were there with us during this process. We had such fun watching them get so excited. It was a powerful moment when we signed all of the forms and paid the money – knowing that this sponsorship program was turning from an abstract idea into a reality.
Carlos had to leave to teach an English workshop, so we put off visiting the other school until next week. Fortunately, he is already familiar with it since it is in his neighborhood.
We then went to Metrocentro for lunch before taking 9 kids – in two taxis – to the market. I thought it was hard controlling the kids at Pollo Campero, which at least is an enclosed area and has a play zone, but the market proved far harder! The kids were SO excited – first by the taxi ride, then by the market.
We were able to buy uniforms, backpacks, shoes, and socks for all of the kids. It was a long, arduous process, but in the end all of the kids were well-supplied. The hardest part was picking out shoes for the girls. The boys were ready in less than 10 minutes. The girls took an hour and got kicked out of one store. I can say that some things – girls being picky about shoes – cross cultural boundaries!
The taxi ride back to the street corner was delightful. The kids were brimming with joy over their new goodies, and we were thrilled to get so much accomplished in one day.
Reflecting upon yesterday’s events, I am both humbled and overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I’m so thankful for all of the amazing support we’ve received while trying to get this program off of the ground. I’ve had a chance to, at least in part; appreciate the thoughts, prayers, and emails you all have sent us. Keren, Carlos, Lauren, Brad, and Esmir have proven integral to our work so far.
We got a feeling that the program will have no trouble attracting potential prospects. The guard at the school got wind of our work and asked if his brother-in-law’s kids could join in. Both Keren and Carlos said they know many kids who would love to be a part of it. Although it was difficult to say no, I thought it would be best to limit the size of the program initially. Once we get the kinks worked out and everything running smoothly, I think it would be wonderful to expand.
Yesterday was great, but we still have lots of work to do. Next week we’ll go to the other school and, if it is open, register the remaining three kids. I will also start working on ways to publicize our work in order to attract funding. Finally, we’ll get to fund-raising.
Alright, I’m off to the airport to pick up my parents. They will be here until Sunday. I’m so excited to see them!