Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Journey home - Day 6 (pt 2) Djati Guinea Bissau

Tuesday 2/21
Day 6
New School for Djati
The Celebration (pt 2)
After we left Quebo we traveled for several hours (although I think it was only about 35 miles) on some of the worst roads you can imagine to reach the remote and tiny Balanta village of Djati (pop 1,000). I'm not going to spend a lot of time on our road trip but of course I have a slideshow link at the end of the post called "The Road to Djati" (what else would I call it?) It's available if you'd like to see the pictures.

Now on with the show!

Going to Djati to participate in the celebration is an experience I will never forget! I could not have imagined how good it would feel to build a little 2-room adobe school house for this village when the project was in the planning stages.  I know that we have made a difference in the lives of the people in Djati and the people have made a difference in our lives.

a typical house in Djati
When we first arrived in the village we were greeted by a huge crowd. The entire village was there. The children were dressed in their best clothing and many chiefs and leaders from near by villages were present. WOW! This was quite a surprise to us.

Freddy and one of the chiefs. Freddy has worked tirelessly on this project, even sleeping in the school
First we went into the old school and the children sang for us and made some speeches about how excited they were and how much they appreciated the new school. The smiles on their faces said it all.
Pictured - the principal Antonio Djati and Freddy the PM@ the old school

some of the students

We each had a chance to say a few words to the students as well.

Next we were entertained by music and dancers. The girls, the boys and the women all performed separately.  Then everyone got into the groove and they really kicked up some dust! It was something else to see! I'm really convinced now that music and dancing are part of our DNA!

Later we all gathered in the new school for the main event. The chiefs and leaders each spoke and expressed their gratitude to us for building the school. They really could not understand "why" they had been so blessed or that we had come so far to see them and their village. It was very emotional. I know they were speaking from their hearts. We had to have everything translated but you could tell how grateful they were, even without understanding the words. It was heart to heart. I was moved to tears. This was truly a wonderful moment. They presented each of us with certificates of appreciation signed by the village leader, principal and Freddy. (The leaders speaking portion is on video but unfortunately I don't have a copy yet. When I get it I will be sure to post it so you can hear it.) 

the new school (and it even has 8 windows where most schools only have 2)
After the speeches they served a traditional meal for us to eat together. Even though we weren't supposed to eat the food (due to questionable preparation and unsafe water) we each ate a little anyway. It was very good and it didn't make us sick.

We brought a lot of school supplies including pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, colored pencils and paints for the children which we left with Raquel to divide between Quebo & Djati.  We gave the soccer balls to the boys in Djati. Randii had some educational material from NASA and she spoke to the children about space.

Before we left the gathering we gave each child a goody bag of candy, popcorn and strawberry Twizzlers! It was supposed to be one bag for each but I began seeing the hands of little ones who I had already been given a goody bag too. Oh well they were very happy!

Then the most surprising thing happened. They honored us by giving us each a tree to plant in front of the school (which we did). AND...drum roll....they gave us a goat!

The new school in Djati is like one of those schools that makes everyone want to move into the neighborhood so their children can attend. Right now more children are walking miles from near by villages to attend classes. It's so popular that it is already at capacity and the students have spilled over back to the old school. Time for an addition!
we gave the goat (a female) to Freddy to keep for us, No way we could fly her home

We still have to build the well and the medical center for Djati so we aren't done yet but this is the most incredible project I have ever been a part of
today was a truly memorable and amazing day!

To see Slideshow videos click here

1 comment:

Toni said...

Ah geez, I really wanted to see that goat come home with you! But I am sure that Freddy can put it to good use for milk and cheese. The school looks wonderful! I am so glad that they are so excited about it...we do need to build a well and medical center so I will get busy making more things to sell. I can't wait to share this story!