Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Lights Come On in Amatongas

Just take a look at the difference between the third and second floor classrooms in the pictures below. Do you think this could make an impact on how children study?

Work is almost complete on the third floor and we are waiting on new desks to arrive on Friday. Workers now move to the second floor.

Third floor lights come on

Looking like a school

Students are in awe over new lighting

First, you must tear down a few walls

Old electrical junction box
 A short pig story: Our first sow gave birth to three little pigs a few days ago. It was not without complications, however. A vet, actually a lab technician, had to be called in to give assistance. The original litter was actually five and we thought we had lost the mother. Fortunately, medicine was administered and all are doing much better now.
Our three newest little pigs

Friday, March 23, 2012

Malaria and Construction Update

This would not be a real blog if I didn't include some reality of the place we live. After 13 1/2 months my luck has run out. Yesterday it was confirmed through a blood test that I indeed have the dreaded malaria parasites running around in my blood. It was only a matter of time really as it seems everyone here eventually gets malaria. I was the last holdout of the brothers in Amatongas. Fortunately for me, it appears this is a mild strain and I recognized it early on. I am presently on my second day of a three day regimen of medication and other than a slight headache, soreness throughout my body and some irritating diarrhea, I seem to be doing better.

I have to say this though. I have mentioned Bill Gates before on this blog, not that I have anything against him. However, if the goal of his foundation is to eradicate malaria in the next two decades is going to succeed then perhaps he should start with investigating how the small rural villages in Africa don't even have access to tests and medication. The brothers here had to go find and purchase malaria tests and medications so we could at least have them for our boarding students.

Anyway, on to much better and happier news. It has been a pleasing sight to see the rapid changes to our school in the last few weeks. Many days one can find as many as 15 workers on campus painting, chipping away at concrete or mixing cement. The students and teachers are anxiously awaiting and anticipating better days ahead. Thanks again to our friends at África Directo and Fundación Profesor Uría for your hard work. You will never be forgotten in Amatongas.

New blackboards painted on all classroom walls

Six new fluorescent lights installed in all classrooms

New outlets installed in all classrooms

New bathrooms for teachers

Outside of school offices being painted
Looking forward to better days ahead

Installation of new electrical lines is hard work
The rains finally arrive in Amatongas

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Classrooms

In addition to repairing classrooms, we are also adding classrooms. The workers began putting a wall up in the middle of one large room in order to transform it into two classrooms.

A wall being installed to create more classrooms
The workers also made iron doors from scratch. These doors are put on the outside of the doorways to provide extra security. We have delayed getting new desks until we put up the new doors for obvious reasons.
New metal doors must be installed first for security

Our two bookshelf library

Another reason why we are here

Our guys collecting fire wood for the cooks

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Work Begins on Classroom Repairs

You may have heard the sounds of a grand celebration from across the globe as work began this week to repair our classrooms. New electrical wiring and new lighting is being installed in all classrooms as well as new doors and a great amount of paint.

A huge amount of thanks which can't adequately be put into words is presently being shared with our friends in Madrid Spain at África Directo and Fundación Profesor Uría. Br. Angel has been leading the effort to keep everyone in Madrid updated on our needs.

We look forward to sharing the news on our progress with many pictures.

Students in our classrooms will one day sit on new desks

Much hammering will be done
for the new electrical lines

Months of painting ahead

Work will be done on three classrooms
at a time during school 
Workers began building new doors from scratch

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brothers from New Orleans and Rome visit Amatongas

Three Brothers of the Sacred Heart visited Amatongas last week and brought great joy and renewed energy to everyone. Br. Ronald Talbot, Provincial of the New Orleans Province, Br. Ronald Hingle, 1st Councilor and Vocation Director in New Orleans, and Br. Paul Montero, General Councilor from Rome, but also from the New Orleans province, spent a full week visiting, meeting and working with the students and brothers in Amatongas.
Brothers gather to sing community song to students
 While the brothers visited we celebrated the January and February birthdays of our resident students. Eight students received various small gifts which included Mardi Gras beads brought by the brothers from New Orleans. A week after the celebration and the students are still wearing their much loved beads.
Br. Ronald Talbot distributes birthday gifts
 The brother visitors joined us each evening for supper with the students and enjoyed the challenge of speaking English to our students. Our students take English classes, but find the language to be very difficult.
Br. Ronald Hingle eats is evening meal with the students
 Official declaration of our school in Amatongas was received just before the brothers visit. You may have heard that the official name of our school is now Escola Comunitaria Sagrado Coraçao de Amatongas or The Sacred Heart Community School in Amatongas. The Community School part is needed for the Mozambique Education System and basically means the school is a Diocesan School.
Brothers gather for a picture with the official declaration
of our school in Amatongas
 All of the students wrote thank you letters to our brothers in New Orleans and a few of the letters were read aloud to the brothers the night before their departure. Special thanks was expressed to Br. Noel for his families contribution to the repairs of the bathrooms and to the communities of the New Orleans province who have sponsored 10 of the students.
Students read thank you letters to the Brothers
 We are still awaiting the arrival of our piglets as three of our sows are preparing to give birth. However, while the brothers visited, one of our goats gave birth to three little babies.
Br. Chris with the newest member of the Amatongas family,
a baby goat. One of three born while the brothers visited.