During an early February visit to the public school to greet staff members and to check out how registration was progressing for 2011, my sister Hannah was alarmed to hear about the theft of the wiring in the school, the destruction of wiring on all computer lab equipment, as well as the lack of electricity and the lack of funds to clean the classrooms.
Those responsible for the wiring destruction and theft were captured and sent off to Roatan, but no one seemed willing to accept responsibility for what needed to be done to open the school on time. A usual pass-the-buck routine. The director of the school was waiting on the Municipalidad for funds to repair the school. But because the Ministry of Education in Tegucigalpa had not been advised of the vandalism and theft when first discovered, no funds were available. Hannah learned that only recently had Mr. J. Ricardo del Olmo contacted Dr. Mario Pinel, Deputy of the Bay Islands, who helped approve emergency funding in the amount of Lps. 50,000 to repair the school.
Since February business people in the community of Utila and La Ceiba have worked together as a team to clean and repair the school. Electrician Andrew Bernard appraised the electrical requirements and restored power to the main building. Mr. David Rodriquez, a computer technician from La Ceiba, spent an entire day repairing the computer equipment. David left Utila with little sleep, with a sense of accomplishment knowing that 95% of the computers were working properly, and with orders for a few special computer parts. While David said he came to help his friend Patrick, most of all he helped the children on Utila.
Everyone who worked on the team knew they would not get paid up front. Receipts forwarded to Pinel’s office detail an audit trail of all expenses. Del Olmo says the Lps. 50,000 emergency funding will be applied to expenses for the school; but outstanding debts remain to be paid, with efforts being made to reach out to organizations in the US for help.
Pinel arrived on Utila February 7, to present 29 scholarships to children qualifying academically from among the poorest of families attending the public school. During a meeting with the school staff to discuss challenges, Pinel advised them to work together as a team, to make sure a representative from the Keys is present at staff meetings, and to provide him with a list of subjects the teachers would like to have funded for continued education. At this meeting the staff also requested funds to hire a security guard for the 2011 school year to prevent future vandalism of school property. The previous security guard left because there were no funds available to pay him. To date, the school is awaiting approval from Tegucigalpa.
The word TEAM can be defined as “Together Everyone Achieves More.” Through teamwork, the school opened on time for the children on Utila. Through the continued teamwork of school staff members, parents, community members and students, our children can to be equipped for the future through a proper education. A big thanks to everyone who contributed to get the classrooms cleaned, to everyone who volunteered untold man-hours to help repair the vandalism and clean the grounds, to those who listened to the teachers’ requests, to those committed to the safety of school property, and much more. [/private]