Tyrese II

If you have not read “Tyrese” you should probably read that first.

The short story is that Tyrese got to go on the field trip.  The long story is a bit more interesting.

By Thursday afternoon, we had all the paperwork to all the necessary people except that (and I don’t know all the logisitics) we needed a paper filled out by the court appointed social worker and signed by the magistrate.  There was one little hitch; we were informed that all the judges in the country were at a retreat for the weekend.

Ms Candi, “Oh, Mr. Dale, what now?”

A bit of brainstorming later and Candi had contacted a retired magistrate that she knew and received some instructions on how to proceed.  All that she needed to do was to be at the court Friday morning at 10:00 with Tyrese and get the paper work signed.  There was only one slight problem. 10:00 am was smack dab in the middle of one of our three school board meetings for the year.

No matter. She could give her report right at the beginning, get to the court and be back for the latter part of the meeting when we planned to brainstorm for the future. She left with Tyrese at 9:40.  At about 10:15, Ms Darcel received a text that the social worker did not have the paperwork filled out and Candi was just going to stay there and see it through.

And that she did. We learned later that the social worker got just a little tiny piece of Ms Candi’s mind, but the paperwork was finally completed and taken up to the magistrate who signed it.  Tyrese was ready to go, and go he did. He had a great time.

But wait, there’s more. This morning Tyrese didn’t show up to school so I asked where he was. (Remember that he get’s delivered to the school by the van from the youth hostel.) Ms Candi said that he had a court hearing today to see if he could be released. At about 10:00 am we got a call from Tyrese’s mom.  She was at court and Tyrese wasn’t and no one seemed to know where he was.

Now it gets complicated, but I will just tell you what we learned later in the day. The hostel had delivered Tyrese to the local police precinct station to be delivered to the court.  However the bus driver never checked him in so when we called the precinct they had no record of his being there.  Consequently they didn’t deliver him on time to the court.

By the time that was straightened out and he arrived at the court the judge had already continued his case to November 4.  So, through no fault of his own, Tyrese gets to stay in the hostel for another 5 weeks.  It is unbelievably frustration for all of us, but, of course, most of all for Tyrese.

I’d like to tell you that this is uniquely a Belizean problem except that I taught at the short term offender facility in Plainfield for the last year, and I know that this is not uniquely a Belizean problem. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.  A little prayer for Tyrese could be in order if you’ve got the time.

The Field Trip, A Photo Essay

MarAlliance field trip

Loading up the truck to go to the Water Taxi

 

Ms. Candi and I left about 5:30 am to pick up Kevaughn because there was no bus that early in the morning for him to get to school.  The truck was back at school by 6:40 meeting students.

We arrived at the Water Taxi terminal about 7:15 for a 7:30 Taxi.

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Waiting for the Water Taxi

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Loading up

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On our way

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Orientation

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Getting ready to take data

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Gotta kiss the bait for good luck.

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Taking data

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Not many school board presidents are willing to go swimming with the sharks with their students.

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Counting Sharks and Rays

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At 3:00 pm the field trip was over.  There was only a 1.5 hour taxi ride back to the city, then for a few students a longer ride home.  The teachers arrived home about 7:30 pm. It was a long, tiring, memorable day.

 

The Parade

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The balloon salesman before the parade started.

Last Sunday morning I had just dressed to go to church when Ms. Candi and Antione, her young son, walked by my front door and asked if I was going to go watch the parade.  The big Independence Day parade features the all the schools in town who wish to participate.

I quickly changed to some more comfortable clothing, grabbed my camera, and walked down to the post office.  Trying to make a little conversation while waiting for the parade to start, I asked Ms Candi if the Friends School had ever participated in the parade. She laughed that little laugh that some of you know well and said, “Yes, I passed out. We haven’t participated since.”

 

 

 

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Me, “You passed out?”

Candi, “Yes. You are expected to be at the staging area at 8:00 in the morning for a parade that is supposed to start at 9:00 but doesn’t start until 10:00.  You are not allowed to have umbrellas or hats or bottles of water.  I passed out.”

Following that enlightening conversation, I noticed that the battery on my camera was dying a quick death, so I asked how long it would be until the parade started.  Candi said 15 minutes.  I was sure that I could make it home and back in 15 minutes so I walked home quickly, changed batteries and started back.

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This one is for you Luanne Haggee

I was still about a block away on my return when I heard the drummers start and saw the first marchers pass the intersection. I didn’t try to get back to where I was, I just got close enough to get some photos and, hopefully, get a sense of the parade.

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This is for those Quakers who knew Sadie.

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Ms Candi and Ms Darcel’s alma mater.

A lot of schools participate and most of the parade is populated with school children of all ages from young elementary to 6th form (Jr college).  It was fun to see that some schools had practiced marching and their students were walking in step and in straight lines. Some schools had not practiced quite so much.

After a while I noticed that the parade of students was coming to a close and that they were going to be followed by large trucks carrying musicians and really big banks of speakers putting out very loud music. I decided that was enough parade for one day.

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Maybe you should train as hard a you hate.

PS. Can you read the t-shirts on the guys on this last float?

 

 

Tyrese

First a little background. Tyrese currently lives at the youth hostel.  Apparently the youth hostel isn’t exactly jail, but sorta close.  The van brings him to school in the morning and takes him back after school in the afternoon.  (Apparently, in the summer, he was with some other kids who stole some stuff from a local store.)

Now the story. This weekend we have a field trip coming up to the MarAlliance, the local marine preserve. You heard a little about that in the last posting.  Well, anyway, Ms Candi has made a big deal all week about attendance at school being mandatory if you want to go on the field trip. Then Tyrese didn’t show up at school on Friday. Somehow Ms Candi got the message that Tyrese was upset because he wanted to go on the field trip and now he wouldn’t get to go.

At first we understood that the youth hostel had decided that, with all the current violence in the city, they would just keep their kids in the facility that day.  And that may still be true, so Candi called the hostel to find out what was going on.  She also explained that we wanted Tyrese on the field trip.

The case worker at the hostel wanted to tell Candi that Tyrese was a troublemaker and that his mother didn’t care about him and that they weren’t ready to let him go on the field trip.  None of that ‘jives’ with our experience of Tyrese. Yes, he’s all boy, but he cooperates in class, does his work, and is generally respectful of the teachers.  His mother is at school a couple times a week to see how he’s doing and calls on some days when she can’t come by.

So this morning Candi asked if I wanted to accompany her to the magistrates office.  I said, “Sure, what’s up?”

She said that she was going to see Tyrese’s case worker, not the one at the hostel, but the one assigned by the court.  So I asked again, “What up?”

She replied that she was “stepping around” the caseworker at the hostel and getting the court involved so that Tyrese could go with us.  I soon understood that “stepping around” is the same as our phrase “going over the head of.”  I also understood that when Ms Candi believes in one of our kids, you-all just better get out of the way.

When it Rains it Pours

Friday was appointed a service day in Belize.  Citizens were asked to find something they could do to be of service to the country on the Friday before Independence Day Celebrations.  Every school received an invitation from the Ministry of Education to participate.

We had already planned for a visit from MarAlliance, the local marine preserve, to do a presentation in advance of our visit there next Saturday for a school field trip. We hoped that we could do the presentation from MarAlliance, which was to begin about 9:00, and at the completion of that to do our usual “clean up the block where we live” service day and still be out by noon (because the Friday before Independence Day celebrations is a half day).

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Nice truck, must be government.

So, at 8:30, completely unannounced, the department of health sent in a dentist and his helper to examine our students.  You don’t say, “No, come back another day.”

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Dentist at work.

We helped the dentist get set up upstairs and began sending up one student at a time.  He examined the mouth of each of the 11 students who were in attendance Friday and showed Ms. Candi the results of the exam.  Only 2 of our 11 had healthy mouths.  Many need fillings and extractions.  Nine have gingivitis.

“Now what?” I asked Candi.  Her reply was that for a payment of $2 per student the ministry would return and do the dental work needed.

Me, “Really? Two dollars? Will we do that?”

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Flouride treatment

She told me that we were the second school the doctor had visited. He had earlier been to Living Hope, a school similar to ours, and that all the students had declined the treatment.  These children, and their parents, do not go to the dentist or doctor because, one, it costs money, and two, they don’t want to hear what the doctor says. She then said, with some determination, “Can we fundraise the money? I will not let our students decline treatment.” The look in her eyes told me she meant it.

So, I’m considering adding a line item to the Friends School budget called Student Services.  If you would like to help, just send a buck or two to FUM for Belize Friends School.  If you trust us to spend it wisely, please just send it for the school, do not designate it for the dentist (see below).

service day-4Meanwhile, the nice lady from MarAlliance arrived in a taxi.  We got her set up and she handed out a survey for the students to fill out about what they knew about sharks and rays.  They were just in the midst of that when the dentists assistant came down and announced that they had forgotten to administer the flouride treatment while the students were upstairs, so they needed to do it now.

The assistant went around the room squirting a flouride treatment in the mouth of each student which they were to swish around in their mouths to the count of 30 and then spit out.  I’m guessing from the looks on their faces that it didn’t taste all that good.

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I guess my mouth is not quite as big as a sharks mouth

Following that interruption, the MarAlliance presentation continued. It was a very good powerpoint and she did a great job of engaging our students.  Then she announced that next Saturday they would need swimsuits, sun block, and a water bottle.  Candi says they all have something that they can wear for a swim suit, but they will not be able to afford sun block or water bottles.  We are thinking about buying each one a bottle of water ($1) and then have them use the bottle for the rest of the day.  We will need to purchase sunblock.  Student Services?service day-7

By this time it was 11:30.  The government lunches had arrived.  There would be no ‘service day’ today at Friends School. I felt better about that when Candi said that the school does a service day once each term, 3 times a year.

After the students went home, we went to the bank to set up direct deposit for teachers salaries.  Following that, we took our application for the field trip to the Ministry of Education for approval, apparently that is a requirement.  When we presented the application, the woman who received it looked it over and said that they currently were not approving field trips that involved swimming.  Candi protested a bit and the receptionist said that she would forward it to the minister.

When we got back in the car, I asked Candi what it meant if the ministry did not approve the field trip. Did that mean we would have to cancel it? She said, with that determined little smile she gets sometimes, “That means that we will take an unapproved field trip.” I like the way this woman thinks.

PS. For those of you who get uptight about this sort of thing, taking the field trip does not mean that we are doing something wrong, it just means that this field trip will not count toward what is expected of us each year.  You can relax now.

Guess who stopped in to see us today

If you have read the post about graduation last spring, you will remember Leroy Zuniga, of necktie fame.  In fact there is a photo in that blog of Leroy giving the “Vote of Thanks” at the graduation ceremony.

Leroy

Leroy stopped in today just to say “Hi” and to let us know that he is doing well attending Wesley College.  For you Americans, many secondary schools are called colleges. They are sort of a combination high school and junior college.

Leroy’s goal at school is to become a prefect.  That also is a term that Americans may not know.  A prefect is a student leader who is left in charge if the teacher has to leave the classroom. It implies a good deal of trust and is granted to exemplary students.

He is also in the school’s drum corps.  In order to be in the drum corps, a student has to have B’s or better; right now Leroy has all A’s.  He is also taking evening classes, not because he has to but because he wants to stay ahead of the game.

Needless to say, we are pretty proud of Leroy Zuniga

Raising Support

My friend Robert Wafula has recently been appointed the Principal (for you US folks, think President) of the Friends Theological College in Kaimosi Kenya.  This is a position supported by Friends United Meeting.  That means the Robert needs to “raise his support.”

That’s kind of a weird phrase, isn’t it, “Raise his support.”  When I accepted this position in Belize I told FUM that I would not ask for a salary, but that I would ask that my housing, my food, and 2 trips during the year to the US, be paid.  As soon as that agreement was made, the next comment was, “We will do everything we can to help you raise your support.”

I had never had to “raise support” before. I had always viewed my salary as something that I earned by working.  I never thought very much about where the money came from.  Of course, when I was doing concrete work, the money came from people paying for the job we had done. When I was teaching, the money came from the taxes paid by the people in the state of Indiana and from taxes raised in the local community.

But this was a whole new ball game. We operate a small “second chance” school in Belize City that doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in Belize City of ever being able to pay its own bills.  And I was going to go to Belize to oversee the school and to do a needs assessment in the community. Who in the world pays for a needs assessment?

At first it felt like begging for money, but the more I told the story, the less uncomfortable I became.  What I was doing in Belize was worthwhile and if people wanted to participate I would welcome that participation in the form of “support.”

Robert Wafula is also doing a worthy task as Principal of the Theological College.  He also will be working in an institution that doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in east Africa of ever being able to pay his salary.  And so he has to “raise his support.”

I hope that each of you who read my blog will consider participating in that support. Can your church or meeting support Robert to the tune of $100/month, $200/month, or ??