segunda-feira, novembro 13, 2006

1. No power = no running water = no flushing toilets = smelly unsanitary bathrooms = no handwashing = all children using one or two working bathrooms in other parts of the school = many young children with accidents on the long walk to said bathrooms SHOULD = school closes

2. No power = no refrigerator = no cold juice or preserved snacks = no food for kids to eat at snack time = cafeteria has no power to cook or refrigerate either (but luckily has gas), nor water to wash dishes = hungry kids SHOULD = school closes

3. Rain pouring down on the streets = chaotic lakes and rivers = areas with knee deep pools of water over the entire road and sidewalk = broken down cars = traffic jams = kids can't get to school unless then spend 2 hours in the car or more SHOULD = school closes

4. Rain pouring down in favelas = mud slide = hundreds of people left homeless or killed = protests on one of the two main roads through Salvador = traffic jams = kids don't make it to school or parents can't pick them up SHOULD = school closes

Now, I arrived at school at 7:20ish. The power went out before 8 AM. We were only in the first set of logical paths (number 1). Then some kids arrive, then some more. We have to combine the two sections of the class because one room is so dark that you can't see your hand in front of you. The kids are fascinated at the open door (open so we don't roast in the classroom with no AC), watching and waiting for the ankle deep lake forming outside to creep into the classroom. The high and mighty director comes in, says if there is no power by 9 AM, we can call it a "snow day" and send the kids home. Various parents are in the room, we pass on this information, so they stick around, having no way to leave anyway because rain is causing traffic jams all over. Frustrated with the noise level, I take the kids on a tour to see the disaster of water around the school including a huge water fall out the front gate. The parents follow. We see utter chaos all over because of the water flow.

Now 9 AM, the parents waiting around take their kids and leave. We are left with about half with both our classes combined. We visit the caf to make sure snack is available. A small group goes in search of the director, who is no where to be found. The principal tells us we are to wait until 9:30, when the situation will be reevaluated. So we wait some more. Eventually the director is found. Director says "I never said if there was no power by 9 AM that the kids would be dismissed." Teachers argue "yes, you did say that" while some stand dumb founded at the blatant lie. Could the director actually be lieing to our faces? Yes (although for most, this is not news).

Parents who tried to leave but got stuck and have come back to wander around the school waiting for some kind of decision. I tell a few that there is no water, no refrigeration, and the caf can't really cook like this, so it would make sense for them to take their kids home. Teachers are unable to get students to focus because parents are there asking questions, it is unbelievably hot in the classrooms, and water threatening to flood your class is just too exciting to ignore. We eat snack with the kids and I spend some time building a large city out of blocks with them.

Finally, word comes down that school will official be dismissed at 11:30 due to black out and rain. It is 10:30 at the time. We have now been without power for almost 3 hours. We are told they don't know when it will be back on, but that we can stay for lunch and take the vans home after. Now we have to call all the parents to inform them that school is dismissed. But, oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that the phones don't work when there is no power here? After we exhaust all the cell phone batteries, we have reached all the parents, and finally it seems we can leave.

But, oh, did you hear? There was a huge mud slide in a favela next to Parallela. Hundreds lost their homes. Huge protests on the road, fires, rocks, the works! So, Parallela is closed. So all the traffic (all 5 lanes in each direction) is now on Orla (the only other street one can take to get anywhere in this city), so traffic is not moving there either. Well, after all, it would have been a normal work day otherwise... Not that I can get any work done without a computer to type, look things up, or lights to read. But that's beside the point really. Because it all comes down to who the boss is that can make or not make a decision (usually the latter).

I pity the next school who takes this director on.

Oh, and did I mention, maybe we still won't have power tomorow? So I assume, when we show up, if we don't, it will probably be until at least 10 AM before they make the decision to send everyone home again. Don't you just love school politics?

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