The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Caña Blanca Classes

First class of the year in Caña Blanca this year, 13 students, 3 parents and 2 teachers, plus Lynn and I. You can see by the photos that most of the students were G’nobe Buglé Indian. Of the 13 students, 9 are new this year, and 8 of those are Indian. A blessing, to be sure, and a challenge as well. We have prayed that we could impact this group of Panamanians since before we came here in 2006. They are socially and economically at the bottom of the ladder here in Chiriquí, and all over Panamá. The huge challenge – they are also the hardest to reach, very timid, humble, and resigned to being lower class citizens. Added to that, they often are not accustomed to Spanish when young, as they speak their own dialect in their homes.
The class went slower than I was prepared for because of this, and because these children had certainly not been taught any English before today. But we are okay with that. Caña Blanca is the one place we feel we can completely go with the flow, and if we learn a lot, great, if we learn only one thing, equally great! It is all good in Caña Blanca for us. The people are friendly, humble, generous and kind. We feel very accepted here, and are able to be a part of their culture when we go for classes. We rarely leave Caña Blanca empty handed – today Señora Elvia gave us a bag full of bananas- green ones to fry, ripe ones to eat and ripe chinos to fry as well. A chino is a type of banana that is short and fat and very sweet – delicious!!!
We began today with colors. For the 4 students from last year, it was a review and time to shine in the classroom. For the others it was a challenge, but one they seem eager to take. The Indian girls all whisper their responses, while last year’s students shout out the answers for all to hear. We ended the class with snacks and fortified juice for all.

The new teacher – at least for the next month is a young man (about 24) who is doing his practice teaching. He actually cooks a small meal for the children daily. The funding for this comes from his small paycheck, but he knows that many of the children will not be fed until late in the evenings, if at all, so makes the sacrifice and provides all a healthy meal. We have made arrangements to begin helping him purchase the foodstuffs weekly.
The ‘main’ teacher is on maternity leave. She is the same teacher who rarely, if ever showed up last year to teach, but received pay for the whole year. I am grateful that, at least for this period of time, the children are being taught by someone who cares, and wants them to learn. I am contemplating how we can bring the problems with the main teacher to the eyes of the Ministry of Education Supervisor here in Chiriquí without causing too much of a stir. Please pray for our wisdom in this.
Also, as we have seen in years past, several of the children do not have appropriate, if any shoes. Adelaida, the oldest of the girls, has no shoes at all, and walks a great distance for classes. We will be trying to take care of those needs as we can find funds and get sizes. Several of the boys are wearing rubber boots several sizes too big, and others are wearing flip-flops. None of them walks less than a half-mile to get to classes daily. All walk home in the rain in the afternoons.
Overall it was a great day, for which we are grateful. While we appreciate every moment of our time with these beautiful children, it also tears at our hearts to see their suffering.

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