Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Peru Part 5

Part 5

Jack Wolff School in Iquitos
Usually the boats depart Yurimaguas in the evening and arrive 36 hours later in Nauta in the morning. Since our boat departed at 1:00 PM and made good time down the river we arrived in Nauta before midnight. It was too dark and early to ride bikes the final 65 miles to Iquitos. There were ten cyclists plus our guide Clara in our group. The other seven people stayed on the boat the remaining eight hours to Iquitos. We had a decision to make about stalling some time until sunrise. The cyclists decided to stay at a hotel in Nauta until 6:00 AM. Our group of riders got off the boat wearing only our cycling clothes. We rode through the desolate streets of Nauta to the nearest hotel. They had three rooms for six of the people in our group. Since these hotels usually rent buy the hour it wasn’t unusual for us to arrive without any luggage. We only needed to stay for six hours and the cost was about $13 per room. The rest of our group found a similar hotel a mile away. At 6:00 AM we arranged to meet and ride the final miles across the jungle to Iquitos.

We rode 65 miles in about six hours including breakfast at a roadside stand and a lunch at a swimming resort. By the time we arrived at the hotel the boat had arrived and the group had moved all the luggage into the rooms. We had a leisurely afternoon in Iquitos. Since we had hustled to get on the early boat leaving Yurimaguas we now had an extra day and a half to to visit some traditional Indian Villages near Iquitos.
The next day we made the 12 mile trip to the Jack Wolff School at the Village of the Dolphins. This is the school we started building in 2004. It has continued to grow from 200 students to over 500 kids now. They started with nine teachers and now need 23. The school was built on the far edge of Iquitos nine kilometers further out than the next school in town. The Village of the Dolphins is very poor and even the teachers would rather commute an hour by bus to Iquitos than live in the village.

This school had some growing pains in past years as the directors, teachers, parents and kids learned how to make a school where the concept of going to school was new. They had seven directors in the past five years. All of the teachers have been replaced at least twice. There is no tax support for the school and the students do not pay tuition. A teacher is paid $335 per month (the national standard in Peru) and teachers are expected to pay the school phone bill and buy classroom supplies from their wages. The education situation is not good but probably not any worse than the other schools we visited across the country.

The support we give them goes a long way in keeping the school repaired and stocked with supplies. Every year we visit there we see the changes and improvements. This past year we gave them about $3,000 to use for over twenty different projects like roof repairs, a new motor for the water well and repairs for the sound system. We will continue to support them on an item by item basis. This year some of their teachers met with members of our group Dan and Debby Berg. They went on a shopping trip to restock the library with books and buy an assortment of educational DVDs. Dan and Debbie paid for all the products from funds they collected from their school at home. We expect the Jack Wolff School to continue to grow in the years ahead.

END Part 5


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