School holidays have begun here in Santo Domingo. The old school year has finished and the new one is set to begin in May. The weeks of relaxation stretch out as the torrential rainy season storms do their worst and children play in the muddy puddles. Time passes slowly as the children play carefree with their neighbours.
At least that is how the holidays will appear to some children. Others have failed to pass their end of year exams, so they have to continue attending classes for another month. They have to go one hour a day for each subject they have failed in for revision. At the end of the month they will face retakes, as they are given another opportunity to increase their grades. If they fail they will have to retake the whole school year.
Other children do not have the luxury of play. They are needed by their families to help with the work to put food on the table. Marcos is ten years old and a little scrap of a boy. These school holidays will resemble his weekends and previous holidays, seeing him helping his father to pack bananas ready for transportation. Marcos has five younger brothers and sisters. His mother is mentally unwell. His father is in his seventies. Marcos has to help earn money so that there is food for the family to eat.
This year ten of the sponsored children look forward to the holidays with great excitement. These ten have won participation in a course of their choice during the vacations. When told of their prize all ten immediately knew what they would like to learn. They had just never had the opportunity to pursue any extra-curricular activities before. I like to think of them catching the bus to their keyboard, swimming, dance, first-aid and hair dressing classes, imagining their delight. I cannot wait to hear them recount their experiences.