Literacy – plus a few random thoughts thrown in

Good morning to Everyone ! The sun is rising and the birds are chirping like mad, making the crowing of the roosters just background noise. It is a solid, continuous chorus of bird-chirps, totally non-stop.

And yesterday morning, there were more observations of my resident bats. I am starting to feel like the Jane Goodall of bats, except that I just observe and do not interact with them. It seems that the majority of the time, there are one or two of them that roost above the chandelier, and their timing varies  Yesterday morning, I watched the one drop down and flutter out of the stairwell. I thought that he was flying away to wherever he would sleep. A short time later, I saw him hanging from the ceiling again eating a piece of fruit, so he was just going out to get breakfast. Then after breakfast, he was gone again.

It will be really nice when I can develop enlarged pictures of them, and post them for all to see. They really are cute, tiny fox-like faces with two light-colored stripes from their little foreheads to their nose.

With regards to communicating back home – still haven’t solved the Whatsapp problem. However, I am grateful that the office here has a printer, copier and scanner. If documents need to be signed and returned, I can print them out, sign them and then scan them back to myself or fax them wherever they need to go (such as my income tax forms). Working in the office is probably more secure than going to the “Cyber” as I recall reading years ago that you can access whatever was copied on a machine, and that that had happened from discarded machines from businesses.

Also a note on personal hygiene – though I don’t know if it would apply in general to long-term travelers. My skin is dry and itchy here, and suddenly I noticed that my Skechers really smell when I take them off. The hiking shoes that I wear with socks don’t smell, but the flats that I use as slippers and my Skechers that I wear with bare feet  – because it’s way too hot here for me to wear socks – are starting to smell really bad.

I had heard years ago of people putting liquid after-shave in their shoes to get rid of the smell. So, when I went to Soriana yesterday to do some shopping, I bought some Jean Nate body splash, Maja brand talcum powder and “O-Dolex Talco Desodorante” which I figured would help, since it had a picture of the sole of a foot on it.

Got back, splashed some Jean Nate on the soles of my feet and inside my smelly shoes, then put some of the Maja on the soles of my feet and sprinkled it in my shoes when they dried. This morning, everything smells much better. It’s also funny how memories come back to you. When I was in the nursing student residence from 1967-1970, Jean Nate was a big thing, and I remember seeing the Maja bars of soap on store shelves, with a picture of a flamenco dancer on the package, if I remember correctly. Seeing the bottle and smelling the Jean Nate , and seeing the bottle of Maja powder brought back memories of my days as a nursing student living in the dormitory……And taking a closer look at the Maja container, there is a tiny stylized picture of that flamenco dancer holding a tiny fan.

Now on to the literacy part of this. Project Amigo is all about promoting literacy and encouraging students to stay in school. This is a very poor area, and many of the people, especially the parents of our students (becarios, or scholars) have a very limited education because they needed to go to work to help support their families.

There are now more than 50 of our becarios who have graduated from the University and become professionals. They then help their siblings go through school and elevate the standard of living of their families and communities on so many levels. But to become enthusiastic about learning, and to develop that eagerness to learn about the world and the possibilities that life can hold, you need to start young.

A few days ago, we visited the local kinder here in Cofradía. First, there was a short English lesson, focusing on colors. Our director Stephanie, who is a teacher, held up a book, showing pictures, then a solid color, then the word in English. Then we sang the Rainbow Song (you can find it on You Tube) and then had them paste little squares on colored paper on blank paper rainbows.

After that, we handed out the books. The children were all so happy and excited at the books, trying to read them, look at the pictures in them and showing them to each other and to us. No matter what your circumstance, if you can read, you gain access to all of history, to an entire world of adventures and ideas, and it is a wonderful thing to see this world opened up to these children, who then go home and share these wonderful things with their families.

We also keep them enthusiastic about staying in school with field trips – to the beach (the Pacific Ocean, which many of them have never seen), to the turtle sanctuary (so they can learn about nature and conservation), to ruins (where they can learn about their history and heritage) and the Christmas Fiesta (where they have new clothing and shoes, a party with food, fun and games, and of course a piñata).  They cannot have and participate in these things unless they are in school, and our scholarships provide this for them, as school fees are financially out of reach for many of these families.

When we meet the parents and families of some of these becarios, they are so proud to have someone in the family who is educated and going to make a real difference in the world. Two of our current becarios are sisters from the migrant camp. Their father cuts cane in the sugar cane fields, but they have studied hard and one is going to become a doctor and the other a pharmacist.  We are so proud of all our becarios and their families, and are truly touched by their stories and we are blessed to have the means to help them achieve their goals.



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