Last week we had very unique, for us, experiences. The first school was an hours drive from Leon. We were forced to find a different route when we got to the final road to the school as it was blocked by heavy mud and flooded roads. We then had to ford a river – not something I felt too confident about doing but I followed the SchoolBox truck and got through with no trouble. There were students at school when we got there so the teachers dismissed them and they went happily home except for the pre-school daughter of one of the teachers. I can't imagine a Canadian school just telling the children to go home a hour or two into the school day!
We unloaded the vehicles and set up to do the workshop. Ruth had just finished reading The Paperbag Princess and was talking about why and how to read to children when three representatives of the Ministry of Health interrupted us to tell the teachers about the dengue epidemic in the community!! We had been attacked by mosquitoes as soon as we arrived and other than swatting them away, I didn't think anything about it!! I certainly didn't have any repellent with me! It had never been an issue before. Not only was there dengue but it was the worst kind!! I'm easily panicked by physical threats so spent the rest of the morning, terrified!
We tried to continue with the workshop, adjusting what we could because of the time lost, when we realized large black clouds were gathering and we could hear faint thunder. Now we were concerned about fording the river again!! We hurriedly went through all of the information we were there to impart and left. We got across the river with no problem, of course, although one of the teachers we were giving rides to informed us that the river was heavily polluted with toxins from the cane fields and the rum factory in the nearby town!!
The next day was much more relaxed and it was easier to reach the school. However I had intended to leave early as I had a massage booked at home. After leaving the school early the day before I began to worry about the fact we had not processed the books and that left them vulnerable to being stolen. We urged the two SchoolBox representatives., Carlos and Luis, to return to the community as soon as possible to complete the processing. I changed my appointment to later in the day so that we could make sure the process was well underway with Carlos and Luis in charge.
Every time we are involved in putting books into the hands of teachers and children we feel blessed. The people are always so welcoming and so keen to use their new resources. Next week we are going with SchoolBox again to work with the staffs of three schools on Ometepe Island.