There have beeen those of you wondering when I would finally show the project that the Amizade organization has been working on this year in Santarem, Brazil. The above picture is the almost completed first two classrooms of the first stage of a community after-school facility for a small neighborhood on the outskirts of this middle-sized town in Para province along the Amazon.
Briefly, Brazilian public school provides only four hours of school a day regardless of grade. To supplement the childrens' education and to provide day care during the time when students are not in school, parents and other volunteers help in local centers to provide a safe, educational, stimulating environment. Amizade has helped build, together with community workers, 4 0r 5 such
facilities throughout the area. Funds are obtained through donations from philanthropic groups in America such as Rotary International and by a portion of the fee paid by college students to take part in the work program.
The second photo shows some of the group of 10 volunteers from Wake Forest. They spent many hours spreading dirt to level the area outside the building and they plastered the walls inside. I arrived two days before their departure, but I saw them return twice from the site covered with red dirt after working in the heat. They had made friends with some of the locals, were full of stories, abounded in laughter, and beamed with a sense of accomplishment.
The first photo shows the site director Geli with some of the local children. The little boy is already of school age and the girl on the extreme right is a seventh grader. They are all brothers and sisters. Three children are not in this photo. I spent time in the tiny shack on the edge of this picture where, including mother and father, nine people live, but more on that later.
I have a few pictures of me shoveling sand to make concrete for the floor to prove that I got my hands dirty too, but my main purpose, here in Santarem, was to chronicle the total experience.