Yes, it’s the extension to Saxlingham St Mary’s in Pachacutec. It’s only half finished, as (just for a change) the government still aren’t paying the teachers, so the building money that Coprodeli were putting in, is now paying the teachers. However, this is what all the donations received from the Bishop of Norwich’s Lenten Appeal will be going towards – and how worthwhile is that? There are now 280 children (we had 120 last year) up to 11 years old, in the classrooms which are habitable, if unfinished. The new dining room, which is the long room on the top of the new building, with its bright blue roof (so it can be seen from a long way, as it’s for the community too) will have to stay “rustic”, that is, without windows and doors until we have more money. Likewise the rest of the new part. Still, the emphasis is and always will be, on the actual education. So the classrooms are unfinished and unpainted, but the children are in there, being taught every day, by teachers who are receiving a half pay and hoping for the rest, eventually. That sort of dedication is rather rare in my experience. As is the afternoon “talleres”, workshops, which provide the kind of “education” which we consider “normal”, but which here, simply does not happen and definitely not in places like Pachacutec. So the older children stay till 5pm and do theatre, music and English for now; later there will be P.E added (no teacher afforded at the mo.) and other skills-based activities. No wonder the children hang about and don’t want to go home! So it was when I arrived – the ones who know me came rushing out of their seats to greet me, much to their teachers’ consternation, who didn’t have a clue as to who I was.

The old 4 classroom building is now “united” with the new building by a sort of amphitheatre effect, as a way of accessing the different levels without taking out more mountains of sand. It was used as seating later that week (my 2nd visit) for the audience present at the Mother’s Day celebration. The poor builder, one of the dad’s, carried on laying steps and mixing concrete while the whole performance was going on! The children “helped” by rushing up and down his newly-laid steps and putting hand prints on the wet concrete!

You will probably have noticed how there is now street lighting (where the school is anyway) and there is asphalt being laid on the main road sections – no pavements of course, just a streak of asphalt in the sand. Still, it’s all progress. I’ll write next time with the Scouts’ event. They are coming to hold a Reading Campaign in the school. We are hoping to find enough literate mothers to help run a Scout group, after some suitable training. Vamos a ver! Love Jillx