Today we arrived at the school just before 8am. The children were seated out front with their parents waiting for us to arrive. As we walked up to the school, we were surprised to see about 8-10 fathers working outside the school. They were weeding and leveling the ground. From the beginning we have told the people that this is their school and their property to care for. They were responsible for its up keep and care. This was their only “payment” for their children being admitted into the school. We were afraid that it wouldn’t be enough. In this culture if something doesn’t cost pesos many times they do not value it. Today, we saw, the pride in the community to have a school. They have begun, more or less without being asked, to care for the property. As we entered the classroom, we saw the room cleaned and ready for the day to begin. Mothers had come yesterday afternoon to clean the building, once again, without being told. On top of it all, they had organized themselves. A mom showed up today with a cleaning schedule for the building including the names of all the moms! It was truly a blessing for me to see the pride in the community over their school!!!
Mothers entered the building to begin the school day. More and more children arrive every day! We have had to make some decisions we were not prepared to make. We have decided we can not take children that are from the surrounding communities. The purpose of the school is for the children of Cuesta Arena. The school was started because the children had no where else to go. There is not school in the community. Unfortunately some of the first children, whose parents were at the meeting, we have come to learn that they are from surrounding communities. And now they are inviting more. Unfortunately we can not serve all! We decided if they can pay for the transportation for their children to come to Cuesta Arena every day, they can pay for their children to attend schools in their own communities. We can not turn away children in Cuesta Arena from their own school because children from other communities are enrolled. Unfortunately, this is causing us great pain to turn away children.
As the day progressed, the children slowly dried their tears and enjoyed playing with play dough, coloring, resting, and snacks. By the end of the day, most of the children were capable of sitting down and listening to rules and classroom guidelines. We gave out crosses (donated by Shepherd Community UMC children) and all of the children said they were excited to come back tomorrow. Slowly but surely the children are adapting and learning their parents will come back and pick them up. God is working and moving in the community.