Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Outfitting Lady

This is Lady. She's 10 years old and lives up in one of the colonias near our church. You may remember a previous blog where I wrote about Don helping build a house up in the colonia for Concepcion, Lady's grandmother. They are among the poorest of the poor. Concepcion's only income is from collecting and recycling aluminum cans. She also participates in the Spanish ladies' Bible class at church and does some work there in exchange for bags of rice and beans.

You may also recall that Don is just crazy about this little girl. I think she reminds him of our daughter in some ways. Don decided last year that he wanted to sponsor Lady's education. She's been attending the beach school which is among the worst schools on the island. Don thinks she's smart enough to be challenged at a better school, so we are sending her to a public bilingual school between Coxen Hole and Flowers Bay, near the cruise ship dock.

Even though the school is public, it is not free to attend. All students are required to wear uniforms and black shoes. They must pay a registration fee and buy all their own supplies except textbooks. In addition to this, there will be the cost of transportation. The poor have a difficult time coming up with the money, especially if they have several children, so often they just don't go to school or don't go many years. It is typical of many to have only completed 3rd grade. If their parents have steady work, they might finish 6th grade.

We have two other gringo couples at our church who are also sponsoring children so there will be four little girls going to the same school. We still have to arrange their transportation before next week. This may seem like an odd time to be starting school, but the new school year on the island starts in February. They get some time off during the summer, not sure how much, and all of December and January off.
Today starts matriculation (registration) but every school has different dates. We weren't sure which days her new school would accept registration, and we were unable to find out so we decided to chance that it was today. It wasn't. But I think Lady and Concepcion very much enjoyed their ride in our air-conditioned car and getting to see more of the island. They were pretty impressed with the Norwegian cruise ship in port. We had a little caravan with Larry and Susan taking the other students and their father. There was someone at the school and we were able to learn that registration is all day tomorrow, so we'll be coming back.

Lady and Concepcion outside the clothes shop.
We decided to take Lady shopping for her uniform, shoes and supplies. Susan suggested that we buy everything from one of the little shops up in the colonia and wrote a list of what she would need. So, armed with the list, we drove as far up into the colonia as we dared (the roads are unbelievably steep and deeply rutted and our tires are not great). Fortunately, there were several shops at that point and they had what we needed. In the top photo, Lady is trying on the navy pleated skirt. They also wear a white blouse with little tucks over an undershirt, white knee socks and black shoes. She is very small for her age and tried everything on to ensure a good fit. She's was thrilled to be able to pick out any black shoe that she wanted. She also choose the Hannah Montana book bag (can't escape her even on Roatan!). Then we went to another store to buy her notebooks and other supplies. She wanted a few little things that weren't on the list, like glue and red glitter! We said ok. Not much to ask and it certainly made her happy. She said "thank you, Mr. Don" in good English!

After all that shopping, Don treated them to a refresca, a cold drink. We agreed to meet at church tomorrow morning to try the registration again. Stay tuned!


  1. Warms my heart!! What a great family you have!! One lucky little Lady! No pun intended. :)