The rural schools here are filled with bright smiles and mischievous looks, but the children´s shoes are old and tight. Some children have nothing to write with and no books to write in. Others simply stay at home as their parents cannot afford the back to school expense. This year there are children newly arrived in the area as their rented homes were destroyed by the earthquake. Their parents are now caretakers on local farms, working in exchange for a roof over their heads. These people lost the little they had and have no skills with which to better themselves.
Each year we are pleased to be able to buy individual children school supplies and uniform through the support of their sponsors. The teachers in the local schools never cease to thank me for the help these children receive and are always asking if there are more sponsors available for more needy children.
We are also delighted to be able to support the schools with books and resources. These schools do not have a library. The only books the children have are the set textbooks. They also lack computers. Where can the children hear stories, have their imaginations fired and investigate the topics that interest them?
We have been able to give each of the 6 village schools in our area a selection of books this year for the children to enjoy. These have included non-fiction, story books and Christian books.
The nursery teacher in the nearest school was delighted to have new stories to read to her little ones. The older classes take it in turns to sit outside in a circle to read a book of their choice. Some of the older children read to the younger ones. It is wonderful to see the children enjoying the books.
We were also able to help the Carchense nursery class with some toys for imaginative play. The teacher had a room full of 3 to 5 year olds to teach for 4 hours a day, and hardly any resources to do it with. These children come from very poor homes. They may have one or 2 toys at home, but no more. They lack stimulation and need to develop their motor skills and imaginations.
Their smiles say more than my words could to show their appreciation.
The children in one school also hugely benefitted from a Scottish volunteer teaching English for a couple of months. She also gave music lessons to children in a neighbouring village. These opportunities are never usually in the reach of these children. They will never forget the experience and the self-confidence that was built.