2 Aug 2011

Diary of Chaveli and Conchi from Sebeta - The School

The school is the reason that we are here and the centre of activity for our daily routine.  To describe this with appropriate words so that you can understand what we are going through, what we are see, what we are feeling everyday…is very difficult.  Because words are irredeemably associated with the meanings that we know and have formed in relation to our own experiences.  And although we use words that we all share because it’s the only way to communicate, the meaning that we want to give them is different to what we are used to; at least that’s our experience.  What we are going through is completely and utterly new to us and so therefore is it’s representation in writing.  However we’ll give it a go.

We are living in what turns out to be the nerve centre of the village.  Ten minutes walk down the main street we find, on the left hand side, a gateway with a big sign advertising this special school for blind.  The layout of the school is a little chaotic, at least we haven’t understood it all yet.  We know that there is a teacher training part and that future teachers attend the ‘ordinary’ classrooms.  That there are classrooms for the education of the blind.  In addition there are boarding huts for the blind.  During term time all the blind children board and during the holidays nearly all of them remain.  Perhaps we should call this ‘Centre for the Exclusion of the Blind’.

It is difficult to describe the aspect of all of this.  The land that the school occupies is extensive. The infrastructure as far as it goes is not bad but it is extremely badly looked after, neglected and doesn’t fulfil the basic necessities.   The internal organisation of the school also leaves a lot to be desired.  We get the sensation that so much more could be done with the budget that is available to them only with a little bit of management.

The people that we meet (teachers, some workers…) in general are very friendly and charming to us.  Everyone stops to talk to us and is interested in our stay.  They give us a knowing look when we tell them where we come from (normally connected to football).  Above all they smile at us.  Regarding the children they are for us the soul of the school, the soul of the place, of the country, of the world.  They have managed to invade and occupy our souls completely.  These children have in many cases suffered a double injustice, that given them by nature and to be condemned by society to live here! These poor children, that have nothing, absolutely nothing, and yet don’t protest, don’t complain, don’t ask, and demand nothing.  All they do is give.  They warmly greet us from the very first moment of the day with the few Spanish words that they have learnt, with their gestures of thanks, with their gestures of tenderness and with the enthusiasm which is now flowing, because for them this is all very extraordinary, the laughter and the smiles, their smiles.

For this reason, despite all the difficulties, everything that you could possibly imagine, we come to school everyday very content and happy to be able to share our time with these outstanding, surprising and marvellous personalities.

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