Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Corn, Corn, Corn, and more Corn

We spent the last week or two buying corn for the rest of the year. To say it was and adventure would be putting it mildly and the pictures below tell only part of the story. If you read the blog regularly you know that corn is the main staple of our diet here. We feed our 54 resident students around 20 kg per day, so it was important that we buy corn, and lots of it, now while the prices are low. As of today we have purchased around 5,000 kg.

The people are eager to sell us their corn. They arrive on bikes or walk long distances with heavy corn on their heads to sell us even a small amount of corn. However, we are saving them perhaps two days or more of travel by driving to their homes. The drives are long and hard on our small truck, sometimes driving down roads that I am sure have not been traveled in months. In our five trips I think we saw a total of five other vehicles at some point on the journey.

Thanks to our 27 sponsors we have the funds to purchase enough corn now for the remainder of the year and a little more. Without our sponsors I am not sure what we would have done. You are all a blessing.

Collecting corn at our first stop

1000 kg in a small truck
On this trip we were joined by Br. Jose Roberto, Provincial from Brazil. He is pictured above balancing the gallon jug on his head. He helped us measure and load our truck on this particular day. Thanks Br. Jose, and all the brothers and friends in Brazil, for all your help.
Families waiting on the side of the trail for us.
Some come by on bikes to sell their corn

Corn is measured using a gallon container, around 5kg

We draw big crowds wherever we go

Our take after 4 days of corn buying, about 4,000 kg

Each sack is measured individually

Br. Fabian with fan club

The trail they wanted me to drive down,
no problem there's a road there, really

Poor beyond words in the bush
In other news, new windows were installed on one of the classrooms making a big difference in the look.
Roquito loves the new windows
Showing off new windows

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Quick Bee Story and more

The work continues in Amatongas while the students are away on holiday this week. Part of the excitement for this week was the demolition of two huge bee hives. The bee hives had millions of bees and was making it difficult to complete work on the back of the school building. Fortunately, we found a bee expert, or at least someone crazy enough to climb the ladder, nearby who helped Br. Angel remove the bees. I wish we could share the photos of the extraction, but the operation took place at night and I didn't want to be anywhere close by anyway for obvious reasons. As we often say here, only in Amatongas.
Back of school building

The two huge bee hives the morning after demolition

Bees returned briefly after the extraction
 Work was recently completed recently on a new infirmary. Lighting and running water were installed in two of the rooms which will be used as an infirmary in the future.
New Infirmary with lighting and running water
 Our beans are doing well and will provide much needed assistance in feeding our students and maybe even produce some funds as well. Another good rain would be nice.
Part of our three hectares of beans looking good
 We spent a few days last week buying corn from the locals in the area. It was a great experience driving and walking through the bush to visit local farmers. This not only helps us buy corn for the rest of the year at a cheaper price than we can buy in the city, but also helps the people who save money by not having to transport the corn themselves. We need 20 kg of corn each day to feed our resident students, so we will be buying more corn this week.
On the path to buy corn

One of the families selling corn

Stop #1 on our corn buying adventure

Brother Fabian takes a break while buying corn

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Historic Day

It was indeed a historic day in Amatongas when the new name of our school was painted on the front of the building. In case you are wondering the top portion must be included in the school name here, "Community Secondary School". Basically, it means we are a diocesan school, but the government pays the teacher salaries. Of course, the "Sacred Heart" in the middle needs no explanation. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart community cross will be painted on the building as well.

First picture of school name on front of building

School name being painted on front of building

New school library taking shape

Teacher work room under renovation

Teacher work room

Students getting in last minute studying before exams

Resident students helping in the farm before the holidays

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Exam Week

The students are taking first semester exams this week before having a one week, well deserved break before the second semester. As work moves to the second floor, students moved into the third floor new classrooms to take their exams.

Students taking semester exams in  new classroom

Professor proud of his work and thankful for new classroom

Why they call it "writing exams" here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Desks Arrive in Amatongas

Since our arrival in Amatongas 13 months ago, we have dreamed of having new desks so our students would not have to sit on the floor. It is hard to put into words our feelings and reactions when we saw the arrival of 100 new desks. Thanks be to God for this gift and for everyone working at and supporting África Directo and Fundación Profesor Uría. You really have made dreams come true.

New desks arrive in Amatongas

Kids line up to help move new desks

Moving desks into classrooms
Students help to move desks 

Students test out the new desks

A classroom with new paint, lighting, chalk board and desks

Another new classroom