Saturday, May 27, 2017

When we have to say no…

We always write about and post photos describing our visits to the villages/schools that we decide to donate to. I don’t think we’ve ever written about the schools we visit and decide not to support. The pronoei Caritas Felices (Happy Faces) in the village of El Carrizo is one recent example. Readers may be interested in how that scenario plays out.

We stopped at El Carrizo on the same morning we visited the village of La Carpa Casinelli. The pronoei in El Carrizo is unusual in that it is located in an unneeded classroom inside of a government sponsored primary school (pink building).

There are other very obvious differences between the two schools mentioned. In La Carpa Casinelli the schoolroom is bright, cheery and organized. In El Carrizo the classroom is dark bordering on gloomy. There is the feeling of a lack of organization; a sense more of a storage room than classroom.

Maria (not her real name) has 11 students. She’s been teaching at Caritas Felices for three years. She has a nervous energy about her that contributes to the unsettled feeling in the classroom. That being said she is probably a very effective teacher. We have no way of knowing so we don’t form judgements.

Maria asked us for new furnishings for the classroom. Sometimes, when trying to provide the best possible learning environment for their students, teachers forget the distinction between need and want. Maria has enough tables and chairs for the present enrollment. Yes, they’re old and mismatched but they are still serviceable. She has an odd assortment of storage shelves. They’re not the greatest but they do hold things. Rather than getting more shelving, in our opinion fully half of the things on the floor in front of each wall is junk and could be tossed without being missed. Among all the stuff we noticed a good assortment of learning materials.

This is not an indictment of Maria. We don’t fault her for asking. She’s seen the shiny new chairs, tables, storage shelves and whiteboard we supplied to nearby Carrizo Bajo two weeks ago. She knows that we also provided books and puzzles for the kids. We’re certain that she has the interest of the kids at heart and is working to the best of her ability. If we were to be critical at all it would be directed at the parents association. They could help to organize the classroom, and should see that a fresh paint job with vivid colors is long overdue. An old plaster chalkboard is badly pitted and chipped. We will donate a whiteboard with erasers and markers ($60), but declined Maria’s other requests.

We don’t like saying no. There is always the downcast facial expression, and usually a final plea to provide “only a few of the things” asked for. Our explanation that we have limited funds and in our opinion there are other pronoeis with greater needs never seems to assuage the disappointment. It is those moments when we try to remember all the schools we have supported.  

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