Monday, February 7, 2011

Matriculation - Part II

We were up and at 'em early today in our second attempt to get the four girls registered for school. You may remember that the principal told us to arrive early, by at least 6:30 a.m. when people start lining up. The doors would open at 7 a.m. We left home around 5:30 and drove up into the colonia to wait for Leydi and Concepcion. By 5:50 they still had not shown, so we drove down to the church in case they had somehow caught a ride. Nope, not there. Larry and Susan were also up in the colonia waiting for their crew and finally called to report sighting of Leydi and Concepcion. We loaded up and were on our way.

We were the first and second vehicles to arrive, but not the first people. I got in one line, the one for people who have already paid the registration fee, and Don and Susan got in the still-need-to-pay line. And we waited. The teachers arrived around 6:45 and milled around talking to people. The principal didn't arrive until after 7 a.m. and then milled around talking for awhile. When they finally opened the doors and began setting up, we were the second person in line. We quickly found out that grades 3, 4 and 6 were full! No more students being accepted. I found the principal (who was still milling around) and asked for a refund. She directed me to her office where other were also waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It is sometimes very hard for this city girl to adjust to the Honduran ways. Waiting is par for the course here. Finally, I could take it no longer and told Don that I was ready to mark off that fee (only $10.) as a donation and get going.

It was now 8 a.m. and none of us had had breakfast. The school has a small store attached to it where the children can buy food and water. We ordered baleadas (thick tortillas spread with refried beans and a sprinkle of shredded cheese) and water. The water came in those little plastic bags that you rip one corner open and suck out the water.

Larry and Susan had already left and called to say that they were at another school and already in the process of filling out the paperwork to register the girls! We quickly drove over there and joined them. This school is a private school, so we'll have to pay tuition. And they have different uniforms than the ones we bought last week and require another uniform for PE class. And we have to buy the textbooks.
And the registration fee was over $100! While waiting on Larry to return from dropping off 3 of the girls, we walked around, looked in the classrooms and talked to one of the teachers. It is a bilingual school with heavy emphasis on English. Only two classes are taught in Spanish. The classes are small, the classrooms large and light filled and the teachers seem in very good control. Leydi's 4th grade teacher will be a man. There appeared to be only 12-15 students in his class. The registration was taking place in the large main office and seemed more orderly and efficient. We were pleased so far and Leydi seemed delighted.

The school requires two small photographs for a student I.D. card, so while we were waiting on the guys to return from the bank (also never a quick trip), we girls drove into the market of Coxen Hole, parking on Back Street in front of the photography "studio". We got Leydi's photo taken in a flash, printed out and paid for ($5.).  We walked down on Market Street to the shop the school recommended for uniforms. We soon learned that they MAKE uniforms; they do not have any ready-made ones. Hmm. Guess we misunderstood (not everyone in the office spoke good English). As we were stuck in a long line of taxis on Back Street, Larry called to see if we could meet. We suggested that we just meet back at the school. Turns out that Larry was on his way to drop Don at our bank and had spent all that time just getting his money.

Back at school, waiting on the guys and money, Susan noticed the credit card logos on the office door. What!? They accept credit cards?? Susan grabbed her card and ran right in there. Meanwhile, Larry returned without Don, so I had to go pick him up (Larry was getting anxious about returning to the colonia to oversee preparations for a house build). When we returned, Susan was still in there, still waiting to see if her credit card purchase would go through. It did, but only after Larry gave them a different card and only after a looooong wait for approval. By this time, I have filled out my payment book, writing Leydi's full name on every page, even though we are paying the full year's tuition up front. Writer's cramp. Then Don handed over a big wad of lempiras to pay for everything.

Now we learned that actually, we can buy all of the uniform right there at the school, except they don't have Leydi's size and will have to order it but it will be there by Friday. And they don't sell the skirts. That's why we were directed to the fabric shop! The skirts are made to order! We gathered up her new stack of books (felt like about 10 pounds), the receipts and headed back to the fabric shop.
In the top photo, Leydi is standing in front of the fabric shop.
                                                 This man is a tailor.
He works in the back of the fabric shop. We simply told the girl at the counter what school Leydi was attending and she ushered us to the back where this man quickly took measurements and told us he would have it ready by Wednesday. There are men in rooms just across the hall who are sewing furiously. Lots of private school uniforms being made this week.
                              Don is being silly, teasing Leydi about how short he is.
We were finally finished around 11 a.m. and absolutely famished! Don suggested that we go grab some lunch before dropping them off. Leydi ate every bit of her BIG plate of food - fried chicken, rice & beans, potato salad and fried plantains!! I don't know where she put it.

We dropped them off in the colonia around 12:30 and gave Leydi money for cab fare in the morning. She was dismayed to learn that she is in the morning session, 7 a.m. - noon. Larry and Susan are still working on transportation for all the girls and hopefully will have something arranged in a day or two.

Don just added up today's receipts, about $828. We'll still need to provide about $60/month for transportation, but otherwise, Leydi is all set (we hope!).

Now we need to find another small girl in need of a uniform so we can unload the one we bought last week. The need here is huge, so I'm sure that won't take long.

Susan and I felt like God was really directing us today when the first school was ruled out. Even with all the running around and waiting, we got everything done at the second school in about 2 1/2 hours. Pretty impressive for Roatan. Susan will have to bring the other girls back to get photographs and skirts, but they can wear regular clothes all this week.

Below is a view of the center courtyard of her school. Her classroom is just to the left of the large palm.

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