Sunday, January 17, 2010

Work in Progress

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.


  1. Marvelous photos, Lee! It's really wonderful to see the things that are being done for places like this. It's hard, I think, for many of us to truly comprehend what it would be like living in communities like these, raising a family so it's good to at least be able to experience it through your words and pictures. Thanks for sharing this journey with us!!


  2. You're doing a good job "chronicling the total experience." I know a lot more about Santarem than I did a week ago, and I know that anyone wanting to take part in this part of the adventure would find it helpfu. Plus, it's fascinating to learn about other parts of this enormous planet. That's an especially nice photo of Geli and the kids.

  3. Lee, you are a wonder and so are all the people involved with this work. The children are so beautiful. Thanks much for sharing it -- like it is.

  4. Excellent post and photos, Lee. I did look up Amizade and Santarem and found it very interesting. Can't wait for the next edition. MB

  5. Good, they'll be learning a bit. Ignorance is a plague.

    My travel plans? Next time I'll be in WA. you'll still be gallivantin'!

  6. Right now I'm trying to imagine the living situation of the children in your first picture: Mom, Dad and *seven* kids all crammed together in what you described as "a tiny shack." That means it's probably smaller than this little rundown one-bedroom house where I am living by myself...and it still feels too small!

    Of course the children in your picture aren't being crowded out by piles of books and craft supplies everywhere, along with assorted found objects allegedly destined for yard sales or eBay. In fact, I have to wonder if those children own even one toy each. They'd probably be thrilled with the toys American children get bored with, and which their parents end up donating to thrift shops or simply throwing in the trash.

  7. wow.. what an meet many interesting people! That is incredible their story.